DIRT roads, steep hills and windy conditions over more than 600km – it’s not your average ride in the park for this team of cyclists.
But imagine doing it without being able to see.
About 50 men and women, including support crew, are gearing up for seven days of intense riding action and it’s all for a good cause.
The Calala Inn and Carlo’s IGA Ride for The Chopper event is now in its 14th year and riders are showing no signs of slowing down with some veteran fundraisers in the pack.
Tamworth man Richard Newberry, who is blind,has not only put his hand up for this one but it’s his third ride for the chopper on a tandem bike with good mate Graham Davidson.
“Graham’s the pilot,” Mr Newberry said.
“He’s in the front and I’m on the back.
“It enables me to get out and get that sort of exercise and do those sorts of things.
“Having a good mate like Graham who has a similar passion for riding bikes is great. It’s a good cause and we’re a couple of old fellows so we need to exercise.”
The ride will kick off with a blast of bagpipes on September 12 in the Celtic country setting of Glen Innes before the wheels start turning towards Inverell, Bingara, Barraba, Manilla and finishing up at Tamworth.
Team members hail from all corners of the country, with some travelling from as far as Queensland and Victoria to participate.
They span across generations too, with a father and daughter team from Queensland also joining the pack.
It’s a long trek, but Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service community liaison officer Michael Wilson describes it as one of the easier ones.
“It’s not a race, it’s more about riding every kilometre every day – it’s more of an introductory ride, some others are a bit more serious in terms of kilometres.”
A new addition to this year’s ride is the Miner’s Trophy – with five mine workers signing up for the event.
“It’s a good fun ride, we get involved in the towns we visit and do a bit of fundraising,” Mr Wilson said.
“We encourage the riders to explore the town and have a look around.
“The Ride for the Chopper support crew help fundraising with barbecues and raffles throughout the year and look after the ride logistics.
“All the funds raised from the Ride for the Chopper stay locally and help to ensure that no one ever has to pay to be transported by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.”