Pedal power: fundraising from Cairns to Karumba for bush kids
It’s the coast-to-coast bike ride that started back in 1996 through the Cairns School of Distance Education P&C Association.
With the initial aim to build a multi-purpose activity centre for the Cairns school site, the C2K (‘Cairns to Karumba’) bike ride is now staged each year to support and benefit kids who live in remote regions right across North Queensland.
This year, one of NBN Co’s Sky Muster™ satellite trucks accompanied riders on their exciting seven-day journey, providing them with the opportunity to experience our satellite service.
Connectivity would allow participants to track and share their achievements, recharge their phones and personal trackers, stay in touch with family and friends and, for some, continue to work during the journey by accessing emails and taking Skype calls.
C2K isn't a race – it's a challenge of the body and the mind. The 780-kilometre journey began in Cairns on Saturday 30 June 2018 with a single turn of a bicycle wheel under the pre-dawn drizzling skies of tropical Queensland.
Crossing five shires, the 130 participants – shadowed by their 50-plus support staff – took off at a time of least disruption to those in the northern tourism capital.
Day 1: Cairns to Atherton (94km)
The first day’s enthusiasm wasn’t dampened by the tropical rain clouds that followed the peloton up the Kuranda Range.
The severity of the 11.5-kilometre climb made lungs and legs scream for mercy, but the suffering was rewarded with spectacular views across the Macalister Range.
For ride participant and nbn™ local manager North Queensland Marcello Massi, the punishment came from all angles, testing his body for the first time since major surgery at the end of 2016.
From the time his feet hit the dirt long before dawn until late into the night, Marcello and his NBN Co colleague Ren Wachtler were a vital part of the logistical challenge.
With the damp and drizzle on their tail, the priority was to check the radar to see just what Mother Nature had in store for the pushbike pack.
Day 2: Atherton to Mount Garnet (105km)
What had managed to stay dry on the first day, didn’t escape the second. Tents, clothes and shoes took on a damp depression of their own and the 105 kilometres from Atherton to Mount Garnet was tough in fog and trying conditions. Slippery surfaces and new gravel roads tested tyres and patience.
For the supporters, a 15-kilometre detour put some colour into the day. Yungaburra is a day tripper’s delight, made more exciting when residents painted the town pink to support breast cancer awareness and raise money for the McGrath Foundation.
Annie Power, owner of the eclectic Mad Hatterz Café, explained the heritage village had been connected to the nbn™ broadband access network for nearly a year, with connectivity helping her to operate the business and promote it easily on Facebook. Her bright café and sunny disposition were in stark contrast to those riders that continued to pedal on and leave Cairns 200 kilometres behind them.
The day’s rest time was welcomed, and so too the distinctive blue Sky Muster™ satellite truck, as the pack recharged their batteries and found time to report in to family and friends by connecting to the internet over the nbn™ access network.
On a foggy day, connectivity proved a rare shining light.
Day 3: Mt Garnet to Mt Surprise (113km)
While the riders continued west towards the gateway to the gulf, a lunch stop worthy of the Tour de France was provided by the families of the Cairns School of Distance Education (SODE). The ride raises funds for the SODE organisation, and is their only fundraising activity for the year.
As Melissa Cow, a home tutor with the Cairns SODE explained, "Our students are from all over the state, so it’s a bit tricky to run a fete."
Day 4: Mt Surprise to Georgetown (94km)
Day 5: Georgetown to Croydon (146km)
C2K is a ride divided into two equally keen groups.
There’s nothing rugged about the ‘Rugged Roadies’ who sit upon thousand-dollar carbon fibre bikes with streamlined tyres measuring their kays, speed and averages via an app called Strava.
What the two groups have in common, though, is how quickly they can recount their stories to as wide an audience as possible. No day is complete without a Facebook post, Instagram pic, Snapchat or WhatsApp conversation.
They weren't certain what to expect on this adventure but once they realised our Sky Muster™ satellite truck could charge their fitness wearables, watches, two-way radios and mobile phones while providing Wi-Fi, the 'nbn™ van' soon attracted an eager audience.
Day 6: Croydon to Normanton (151km)
Day 7: Normanton to Karumba (78km)
There was no mirage for the cycle circus, though, as they gathered as one and rolled into Karumba. The gulf’s bluest of waters provided the perfect backdrop for celebrations that were restricted to the sand but not restrained.
Having raised more than $100,000 for the education of kids in the bush along the remotest of routes, the riders and supporters connected over a cold drink, a sunset to remember and a sense of achievement proving once again that good connectivity offers great opportunities.