Advrider Older Magazines

Holding Hands with Karen Ramsay

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #39

Early-morning text messages are met with trepidation when bushfires are around, but the message from Kylie Connolly was on the other end of the spectrum. She asked if we’d be interested in helping organise a fundraiser in aid of those who suffered in the Rappville fires. She suggested an adventure poker run with a twist Holding Hands with Karen Ramsay.

Holding Hands with Karen RamsayThe night was not only a success for the Rappville community, but lots of fun for everyone who attended.

As members of the Kyogle Dirt Bike Club, Greg and Kylie Connolly had ridden on private properties that had been devastated by the fires in the area, and a couple of people they knew had lost every-thing. Husband Dave and I jumped at the fundraising idea and that night we four met over dinner, came up with a plan, created posters and created an event. We posted on the Northern Rivers Adventure Bike Riders (NRABR) Facebook page and it was shared widely.

Holding Hands with Karen Ramsay

Holding Hands with Karen Ramsay

Almost every business was more than happy to donate amazing items as prizes and auction items. The final figure paid in to BlazeAid accounts was $14,577.

We knew we needed to hold the event as soon as possible while the fires were still in the forefront of people’s minds.

It became rather ironic then that the fires in the Northern Rivers area of NSW continued, plus it seemed every day there were new fires raging out of control, not only in NSW, but right across the country.

Rappville became just one of many devastated communities.

Regardless, we stuck to the original plan.



Unfortunately, the closure of State Forests, National Parks and some roads meant highly modified routes to get to the event. In other words, lots of blacktop.

Our idea had been to give everyone one card per 50km, but in the end we settled on all participants getting a full hand. The NRABR had one of its regular rides to support the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service already planned (which ended up raising $1650 and was expertly hosted by Greg and Ness McFarlane on their property, complete with delicious pizzas) and although that put the fire fundraiser back another week, it worked out well. Greg and Kylie had the perfect place for hosting a large function of this type. They’ve held plenty of events there, including training and practice sessions for dirt bikes and adventure bikes. Greg was in his element designing and building tables, seating, the ‘Handle Bar’, and all the infrastructure, as well as doing all the running around that was needed.

Next job was approaching potential sponsors. I have to say we were absolutely overwhelmed by the support we were given. Almost every business we approached was more than happy to donate amazing items as prizes and auction items, equipment, and a large portion of the food for our ‘Quirky Black Tie Dinner’. On top of that, we even had people approach us to offer incredible donations, too. Then, for everything to run smoothly and professionally, we needed a small army of volunteers to make it all happen. These families and friends worked behind the scenes, building, cooking, serving and doing everything to make sure the night was not only a success for the Rappville community, but lots of fun for everyone who attended.

An impressive, sidecar-friendly gymkhana course.

Weighty matters

Greg had a stroke of genius when he came up with the idea of weighing each bike as it came in (it was a bit interesting weighing Col and his sidecar). Riders guessed the combined weight of them, their bike and load, with the closest winning a prize. Tac was just 500g off.

The winning poker hand of the night went to Rod Colling, while Mark Shipton won the lucky-door prize. Riders came from near and far, and so did people in cars and vans. The evening was filled with a fabulous meal, stacks more prizes, auctions and lots of laughs.

Each bike was weighed as it came in. A prize went to the best guess at the combined weight of rider, bike and luggage.

Weighty matters

The next day, with no visible signs of hangovers, the gymkhana took place.

It seemed some people were very happy to pay extra money to not participate. Dave had a pretty impressive, sidecar-friendly gymkhana course set up, complete with undergrowth sectionand seesaw. Steve Moore from Toowoomba took out the under-800cc title while local Doug Rule won the over- 800cc section with a very impressive clean round. Greg and Macca showed it was possible to complete the course on a mountain bike and motorised esky.

On the gymkhana circuit.

Ending in tears

The weekend finished off with a slow race, egg-and-spoon race and the inaugural staging of the demonstration sport ‘pool-noodle jousting’.

Kylie said there’d be tears and we were regularly overwhelmed by the generosity of businesses and people, and I know Dave had to go hide in the loo to compose himself when we looked at the figures on Sunday morning and found we’d raised over $12,000.

The final figure came in at $14,577, which included an additional $2000 via the Mullumbimby Chamber Of Commerce’s Music Festival.

One of the highlights was delivering the total to the BlazeAid volunteers based at Casino, NSW. It was a privilege to contribute to the indispensable work these extraordinary people do. The money was paid directly into BlazeAid’s account at two local businesses for fencing materials like star pickets and barbed wire.

Bike riders (and other groups) are regularly raising money and awareness for different causes. While we can’t go around doing this all the time, we can contribute in other ways. On your travels,visiting communities impacted by drought or fire, then spending your money in those towns and stopping to chat to people, won’t just raise spirits, it’ll also raise the profile of bike riders.

It’s amazing the places you’ll be invited to ride through just by taking the time to talk and listen to locals, and by riding

It’s when times are toughest we all need to stand together.

What I’ve learned

• People love an opportunity to help others
• Sidecars can go just about anywhere
• Volunteers are a special breed
• Pool-noodle jousting is worth trying
• The riding community is awesome

Learn more about through this link:

Series Navigation<< Sole man with Andy StrapzFit Out – Touratech Yamaha XTZ 700 Ténéré >>

Sole man with Andy Strapz

Previous article

Fit Out – Touratech Yamaha XTZ 700 Ténéré

Next article

You may also like


Comments are closed.