School team rises to Woody's challenge, 25 years on

WARRNAMBOOL College’s Murray to Moyne team has pedigree.

The team will this weekend clock up its 25th year in the epic bike ride across Victoria.

It includes not only members who have taken part for each of the past 25 years but those who have since been inspired by the event’s late co-founder, Graham “Woody” Woodrup, to take part.

Mr Woodrup was tragically killed in a road accident while cycling in 1992 but memories of the camaraderie and adventurous spirit he generated are still strong for Warrnambool College team members Lester Campbell and Dennis Lemke.

Both rode with Woody and still have the motivation to tackle the sort of challenges he encouraged.

Mr Campbell, team manager for the past 25 years, said while he had developed a “template” for running the outfit smoothly, there were variables each year that kept it a challenge.

Apart from helping team members manage the fatigue of taking part in the 24-hour event, other factors such as the weather meant every ride was different, he said.

The team, which this year will comprise 13 riders and three supporters, has raised more than $40,000 for the Warrnambool Base Hospital’s children’s ward during its quarter of a century.

Team members range in ages from Mr Lemke, 80, who ensures riders are fed and watered and fixes bike problems, to 17-year-old rider Samuel Rauert.

Sam’s dad, Peter, also rides in the team and the two have a friendly rivalry to see who can cover the most distance in the relay event that gives teams 24 hours to ride 520 kilometres from the Murray River on Saturday morning to Port Fairy on Sunday morning.

A new local team on the ride is the Brophy and headspace Riding 4 Youth team, which is raising money for an innovative physical activity program for disadvantaged young people.

More than 1200 cyclists in 73 teams have registered for the annual charity event that generates funds for health centres, services and hospitals across Victoria and South Australia. 

Teams have a choice of three departure points on the Murray River. 

They reach Hamilton by Saturday night and continue with the final leg into Port Fairy the next morning.

Motorists using roads on the 2014 route are encouraged to take care and watch out for cyclists this weekend.

Event co-ordinator Maggie Leutton said motorists should heed safety vehicles bearing signs and lights, which  would travel no more than 25km apart at the front and rear of ride groups, which would vary widely in size.

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