A CONTINGENT of bike riders sporting some unusual cycling gear will pass through the region tomorrow, all in the name of bowel cancer awareness.
The tutu-wearing riders of the Little Black Dress Classic will travel from Armidale to Walcha tomorrow on their tour from Coffs Harbour to Bondi Beach.
The ride is an initiative of the Jodi Lee Foundation and its participants wear the black tutus in memory of the organisation's namesake, for whom the "little black dress" was a favourite item of clothing.
But despite their eye-catching outfits, the riders have a more serious side to their challenge promoting early detection strategies and screening for bowel cancer.
Founder Nick Lee said 90 per cent of people diagnosed with bowel cancer could be cured if it was detected early, and this could happen through a simple test.
It is recommended that everyone over the age of 40 gets screened annually, with the incidence of the disease increasing significantly after 40 and dramatically after 50.
Based on current trends, one in 12 Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer before the age of 85.
Mr Lee established the foundation after his wife died of bowel cancer in January 2010.
Jodi was a fit 39-year-old with two young children when she was diagnosed with the disease two years earlier.
She had no family history of it and one day, while the family was living in Vietnam, visited the doctor with abdominal pain.
That night she was airlifted to Bangkok, where she underwent surgery to remove a tumour that was almost blocking her bowel.
While the surgery to remove the tumour was successful, she was diagnosed with stage four cancer and given three years at best to live.
Mr Lee said while they tried everything to change the prognosis, Jodi lost her battle at the age of 41.
He said he wanted to do something to prevent others going through the same experience and so set about raising awareness of the disease.
The ride will also collect funds to be put back into projects surrounding awareness and early detection.
To donate or for more information, visit www.jodileefoundation.org.au