Victorian bush fires trigger generosity

The devastating bush fires raging through Australia have triggered generosity in the cycling community. The 111th Austral Wheelrace and the Pimpama Road Race have put in place donations programmes.

The Austral Wheelrace takes place on Saturday 14 February and the organiser's will be offering free general admission to Saturday's race at Hisense Arena for anyone who brings a working bike to donate to the Victorian Bush Fire Appeal.

The Kinglake, St Andrews and broader Yarra Valley region affected by the fires are close to the hearts of many cyclists as key training areas.

Some of Australia's leading cyclists, like Tour de France star Cadel Evans and former Australian road champion Darren Lapthorne, regularly use the areas damaged in the bush fire as their training ground.

With memory of the not too distant fires in the Bright and alpine area, the tragedy has hit home with 1984 Olympic Games gold medallist Dean Woods, who is urging those who are in a position to donate a bike to the appeal to do so on Saturday night.

"Everyone is thinking about how they can help and if this is one way, although it might be minor, it's all the little things that add up," said Woods.

"Seeing the way people have responded, offering what support they can, has been heartwarming and is something the larger community can take great pride in.

"Hopefully for the kids, and the adults, in these areas having a bike to get around on once again will help them on the road to recovery as exercise is so important to our emotional wellbeing."

As many of the people in the affected areas are without a home and unable to receive such goods, bikes will be stored in association with CycleSport Victoria and distributed to people, once they are in a position receive them, through cycling clubs in these regions.

The Pimpama Road Race on Sunday, February 15 will be run to benefit the victims of the bush fires. All race entry fees will be donated directly to help the people who have lost their homes, livelihoods and family members in this terrible disaster.

No prize money will be paid. Entry fees will be a minimum of $10, and riders are asked to consider paying as much as they can toward this appeal. The Goldstars will cover any running costs incurred. All income will be donated.

The organisers hope for many people to come out and show their support for fellow Australians in this time of need.

The Pimpama road races are held near Dreamworld on the M1 Eastern service Road, with start/finish at Le Mans Kart Racing.

(Additional editorial assistance from Susan Westemeyer)

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