James Rigg: Ride for Unity Diary

The Ride by James Rigg

We were planning on riding the some 578km in 6 days, or so I was lead to believe. I was thinking this was a manageable effort when invited to join, worked out at a little under 100km each day. Little did I know that this was just a ruse to get us to commit, Brendan Parker, CEO IF Foundation had a little secret install for us that he broke to the bunch during day 4.

Day one, the organisers added a little extra on the day (30km), deciding to ride to the Whim Creek pub. Better accommodation, toilets and showers!!! Plus the chance of having a cold beer to celebrate the first day on the bike. The group was especially excited about the chance of a hot shower at the tiny cost of $5 across the bar, a donga style shower has never look so inviting.

11894581_10153632411239052_6398774466233052925_o IMG_3945

Not much to report other than all happy and healthy at the end of day one. Big camp cook up – steak burgers, coleslaw and potato. A few of us may have picked at the left over steaks, I may or may not have consumed 2 burgers, a full plate of slaw and potato and 3 reasonable sized bits of beef off the BBQ (big day, I needed to refuel ).

All happy after day 1 – 126km done!

Day two stayed to plan and finished in Point Sampson where we all refuel with health options – best deep fried fish and chips in Australia (maybe not but by god it was tasty). Warm showers at the well-equipped camp ground. One of the school kids that lived at this caravan park must have made a killing for book week! I’m quietly confident he topped his class in donations raised by hitting up fatigued cyclists that happened to lob in the area for 1 night. He got 15 good donations with people clambering over each other to give the kid cash and sign his donation page. I hope he did his reading that night.

Camp site – Point Sampson (104km day) Scott Cummings had a chainsaw in his swag again! Ear plugs essential

IMG_0831 (Medium) (2)IMG_0794 (Medium)

Day three was the most brutal day of the ride. Only 60km but what a 60km. We left the caravan park a little late needing to make up time, not wanting to be tardy – scheduled assembly at Roebourne School 20km down the road. The ride was made more difficult by a strong head/cross wind. The clock was against us, the wind against us and the leaders started stomping out a frantic pace. At approximately the 10km mark shouting started coming from the back of the pack. I turned around to see what was happening and we had split the bunch, about half the group of 15 had dislodged from the train and were shouting at the people in front to slow down. Thankfully the pack slowed, the wind did not, we managed to arrive on the bell at Roebourne School. Many of the 15 riders were feeling their lack of fitness, a few of us carrying a little extra belly fat, nice white winter tans, sweating profusely through our plastered on sunscreen and red faced in lycra – not a very attractive sight standing in front of a full school. We sat through the assembly and caught our breath. At the end of the assembly we were mobbed by about 25 kids who were super excited about the road bikes leaning up against the wall. Kids being kids, they wanted to ride. We all played it cool and let the kids handle the bikes, I was a bit panicked as my bike hurtled around the under croft, narrowly missing other bikes, poles and people. Seeing an 8 year old kid sitting on the top tube struggling to reach the pedals throw a bike around as only I could dream was exciting but also nerve racking, these kids had skills.

We donated 15 stand up desks to the year 2 class – putting them together is not my strong suit, the 14 year old kid who just happened by was instrumental in my desk getting constructed correctly and efficiently. The desks are aimed at creating healthier children. Standing is supposed to improve health, academic performance through increased concentration and other benefits. It’ll be interesting to see how this pilot program goes (if anyone wants information over the coming months hit me up and I’ll provide info on the year 2 classroom trial, or search Up Standing Kids http://www.upstandingkids.org/ ).

Back on the bikes and the wind had swung around to remain in our faces for the next 40km. Great day, but so happy to park up the bike on day 3.

(60km day)

20150824_151356  20150827_112418

Day four was our large day. It was supposed to be 150km. I was excited as I’d never hit 150 before, 130 a few times but 150 was going to smash my personal best. Little did we know that a few minds had conspired the night before and picked a different camp ground. I got wind of the news early and told to keep quiet about it as the organisers were going to test out individuals during the day and plant the seed of attempting the next 3 days kilometres in only 2 days. So, as the day goes on the chatter increases about ‘what if we ride….. we could finish a day early….. 170km today and 135 tomorrow, what do you think?’ Too many macho alpha male types on this ride for anyone to push back. So we all puffed up our chests and declared we had it in our legs to handle the challenge (rightly or wrongly). Anyway, the end result was we rode 171.7km on day 4. It’s kind of nice looking back at the camaraderie as we pushed each other to make the distance. There were moments during the day where we all struggled but the support between the riders was awesome and a huge cheer went out as we cracked 100 miles – I’m a little proud to say I’ve ridden 100mile+ in a day.

Awesome camp site. Pasta under the stars sitting in the glow of a glorious camp fire. Best night of the trip. True bush camping experience.


20150827_093153_001   20150828_062651

Day 5 was horrible for me. Poor personal management the day before and insufficient pre-ride training showed. This was the hardest 100+km ride of my life.  Anyway, on this day the legs were empty, the desire to pedal gone, nowhere comfortable to sit on my saddle (use chamois crème people!) and bruised soles of my feet. Very unpleasant to say the least. Riding the last 10-15km into Onslow was awesome though. The sense of accomplishment, the jokes and chatter was at an all-time high, smiles, high fives, bum slapping and laughter. We were met by about 30 locals who were aware of the ride (they may have just by chance been at the pub having a non-alcoholic drink – 10 ladies in a mothers group, a handful of kids playing nearby (school just finished) and my brothers family who live in town (only pre-arranged people meeting us). However, it didn’t matter to us how they happened to be there, we felt like hero’s crossing the line getting cheered on by our flash mob finish line crowd.

 Amazing 5 days with some inspiring people. 

After meeting a handful of IF Foundation employees working in the Pilbara I am confident that our contribution will make a difference. I take my hat off to these people working in a difficult space in a challenging community. For more info check out 



20150828_114949   20150828_153945_resized