Brush with a ?bloody idiot
By TONY WHITE
FORTY kilometres outside Grafton yesterday, Peter Forbes and other cyclists involved in the Amy Gillett Foundation Fundraising Ride, could not help but shake their heads in disbelief.
The group was cycling between Coffs Harbour and Grafton on the Orara Way, the fifth leg of a nine-day, 900km ride between Maitland and Brisbane to raise funds and awareness of safety between cyclists and motorists.
"Because of the poor conditions on the Pacific Highway and lack of shoulder between Coffs Harbour and Grafton, we chose to come through Nana Glen and Glenreagh," Forbes said.
"We were riding single file with a support car with lights warning motorists.
"About 40 kilometres outside Grafton we were passed by a logging truck, up a hill and across double white lines.
"Obviously he wasn't particularly impressed but we (the riders) just looked at each other and said 'you bloody idiot'. I couldn't believe it, especially considering what we're about.
"We're not only about cycle safety but general road safety. We're trying to promote better awareness of safety between motorists and cyclists, but also better drivers using the road and conditions.
"Having said that (the logging truck) most truckies on the whole have been better than many of the motorists."
Forbes is the partner of Lorian Graham, who along with Australian women's road cycling team members Kate Nichols, daughter of Grafton's gold medal-winning Olympic cyclist Kevin Nichols, Katie Brown, Alexis Rhodes and Louise Yaxley, was badly injured in a road accident in which Amy Gillett was killed in Germany on July 18.
Forbes said the general public's response to the fund raising ride had been 'fantastic'.
"Fifty to sixty per cent of the cars have given us a wave or toot and everywhere we've stopped the response and support has been great," he said.
"We even had an impromptu stop at a coffee shop in Coffs Harbour this morning and with help from the local cycle club raised another $300 towards the foundation."
Forbes is not only a staunch advocate of better motorist awareness to cyclists, but believes upgrading the Pacific Highway is paramount to saving many lives.
Graham joined the group yesterday after returning from a special camp at the AIS in Canberra.
She was on hand at Market Square late yesterday for a public forum and barbecue when Graham and other riders spoke of the aims of the Amy Gillett Foundation and promoting safety between motorists and cyclists.
Until the cycling awards evening last week in Sydney, Graham and her injured colleagues had not seen each other as a group since their stint in a German hospital.
"It was important for everyone involved in the accident to be there (AIS)," she said.
"The Australian National Cycling coach and AIS head coach were there and it was important for us to find out what the year holds.
"Until the cycling awards we hadn't seen each other since we were in hospital gowns."
Graham, who is still unable to ride, said a decision had been made to put the injured cyclists on a sports medicine scholarship for 12 months to allow them access to facilities and fully assist in their rehabilitation.
"Everyone's moving forward, small steps with their injuries," she said.
"Katie (Nichols) is on her bike and riding again, Alexis (Rhodes) had no leg injuries, mainly internal and is cautiously doing a bit of riding, Katie (Brown) had severe leg injuries and last week underwent an operation on her tendon, Louise (Yaxley) has had a lot of work on her wrist and arm and at the moment is focusing on rehabilitation and I'm still quite limited, but my biochemist is organising to get a smaller custom-made crack to hopefully allow me to free up my joints and get a pedalling motion going.
"I can't work or ride but doing this charity thing has helped me cope with things and help raise money for a very worthy cause."