After riding 780 kilometres through heavy rain over the infamous Kuranda Range and crossing the harsh Gulf Savannah, seven riders from HMAS Cairns made it to the outback town of Karumba.
The riders and their support staff were participants in the Cairns to Karumba C2K bike ride, an annual fundraiser aimed at raising much needed funds for the bush kids of outback Far North Queensland.
This year’s ride began on 24 June at the Cairns Esplanade. Over seven gruelling days riders wound their way through World Heritage rainforest, over dry creek beds and through outback towns off the Gulf Savannah.
Commanding Officer Cairns Commander Carl Capper had done a long distance ride to Cooktown in the past.
“The C2K was challenging but beautiful at the same time,” Commander Capper said.
“It’s about pushing yourself each day and the teamwork in each pack was great to see.
“I would encourage anyone with even a medium fitness level to give it a go.”
One of the biggest days of the tour was a 161 kilometre ride from Croydon to Normanton.
Tradition has it that the famous Gulflander train races the riders from early morning until the finish.
Riding for the first time was Petty Officer Physical Training Instructor Kristian Weldon.
Petty Officer Weldon thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie and challenge of the whole event.
“There was no way that train was going to beat us today,” he said eagerly.
“In recent years packs one and two have successfully arrived in Normanton before the train and this year we were successful again.
Veteran rider Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor Justin Bailey said that you would suffer some pain if doing the event for the first time.
“If you have never ridden for seven days in a row before, it's likely that you will experience some chafing mid-event,” he said.
“We always pack extra solutions for those awkward chafing moments.
“Last year I had real dramas, but not this year as knowledge of long days and hardship from previous years kicked in.”
One of the standout highlights of the whole trip was the important support Navy gave to this event, in providing Navy chefs from Cairnsto prepare and cook meals for over 250 hungry cyclists and support crews.
Event organiser Steven Corrie said the chefs provided a much needed addition to the event.
“Without the Navy cooking for over 250 people for seven days, the event wouldn’t have been as good as what it was.
“Their dedication and professionalism on a daily basis was second to none and the Navy support team should be extremely proud of their efforts,” Mr Corrie said.
It wasn’t just the community that appreciated the feed.
“Even with the amount of calories burnt daily from each rider averaging over 110 kilometres a day, most people still put on weight during the trip because the meals were so good,” Commander Capper said.
With the finishing line at the Gulf of Carpentaria’s town of Karumba, Navy personnel celebrated their achievement with a glorious sunset and many stories from the week.
The route encompassed far north Queensland’s unique and diverse environment in some trying conditions.
All Navy riders displayed toughness, increased their confidence, health and well-being which are all part of being resilient and fit to fight.