Cycling 1000 km over eight days is the annual challenge of Pollie Pedal, led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
This year the ride began in Albury and finished in Manly but not before taking a cruel detour over the Snowy Mountains contributing to a total of over 8000 vertical meters of climbing.
For 20 years, Pollie Pedal has raised money for various charities whilst giving smaller Australian communities the opportunity to meet members of parliament.
From its inception in 1998 until now, Pollie Pedal riders have covered around 18,500 kilometres, raising over $5 million for organisations such as Carers Australia, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Ronald McDonald House, Youth Insearch and the Paralympic Games, as well as supporting medical research into childhood leukaemia, diabetes, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
This year, Pollie Pedal travelled through regional Victoria and New South Wales to raise money for this year’s new beneficiary, "Soldier On". Soldier On exists to help veterans tackle both the seen and unseen scars of war. Veterans on the ride had the chance to share their experiences – during and after their service – with fellow riders and with members of the community.
Sponsors for the 2017 event included The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has been associated with Pollie Pedal for many years. The proceeds of this year’s ride will go towards refurbishing Soldier On’s facilities in Sydney.
A league of politicians and supporters rode alongside Tony Abbott this year, including representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Local leader and long time participant Stake President Leo Gomez led the mormon representation, supported by other Church leaders James Mackie and Alex Gomez.
President Gomez remarked,” There isn’t a lot of difference between the spirit that is felt amongst the riders of Pollie Pedal and the selflessness that we experience in the Church.”
The riders stopped at schools, fires service, cafes, and small businesses along the way.
Evening gatherings provided a forum for the beneficiaries of the charity to share personal insights into some of the blessings resulting from the funds raised and the positive impact the organisation has in the lives of others like themselves.
Pollie Pedal begins as a physical challenge and soon becomes a unified cause, connecting the participants on a very personal level with one another and especially with the individuals from the charity they are supporting.
The eight-day excursion took the riders through several cities, before finishing in Mr Abbott’s electorate at Manly.