Why cyclists tackle the Challenge
Every year, hundreds of cyclists from around Australia and overseas are drawn to the city of Cairns in tropical Far North Queensland to saddle up for the Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge.
And every year, the fundraising bike ride from Cairns to Cooktown gains momentum: 2016’s event included 350 riders, who raised more than $300,000. This event was launched in 2007 by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation and has raised more than $3 million in that time.
The three-day, 333km ride attracts people from all walks of life: teenagers, new mums and retirees, cabinet makers and accountants, doctors, nurses and dentists, farmers, and pharmacists, pilots and school principals, lawyers, bus drivers, police and builders.
What motivates them to pedal 333km, up mountains and across plains?
The man who came up with the idea for the Cardiac Challenge, 66-year-old Cairns bus driver, Peter McNally, was born with congenital heart problems and still requires ongoing cardiac care. But he hasn’t let that slow him down.
A cycling enthusiast, Peter persuaded the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation that a fundraising bike ride would be a great way to raise money to improve cardiac care services in the Far North, as well as encourage more people to get into cycling.
As the years have rolled by, the fundraising efforts of the Cardiac Challenge is probably best reflected by the number of cardiologists and nurses from the Cardiac Care Unit at Cairns Hospital who take part in the event, along with former cardiac patients and others who have lost loved ones to heart disease.
At a personal level, many Cardiac Challenge participants describe the event as a “life-changing experience”: inspiring them to achieve new levels of fitness, step outside their comfort zone and take on fresh challenges, while also enjoying the camaraderie and support of the other riders.
Overseas and interstate participants, as well, appreciate the opportunity to experience the dramatically varying terrain of Far North Queensland in a very “up close and personal” way: from the leafy, sun-dappled Kuranda Range road, winding upwards through lush rainforest to the Atherton Tablelands, across rolling golden savannah lands and on to the shores of the sparkling Coral Sea at Cooktown.
Irrespective of your reason/s for taking part in the Cardiac Challenge, by the time you reach Cooktown you will be riding high!