It’s pretty impressive when even before they had set out on their fundraising motorcycle ride on Wednesday morning, navy personnel had topped last year’s result by $4000. Their efforts follow September’s highly successful Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, a global event sharing the same goal: raising money for prostate cancer research and awareness.
After non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in Australian men.
Prostate cancer is generally slow-growing and if it doesn’t become aggressive there are several approaches to treatment ranging from monitoring it and treating symptoms to radiotherapy and surgery.
The important thing for men over 50 – or those who know there is a history of the disease in the family – is early detection. But blokes being blokes, getting them to take their health seriously seems to be an uphill battle.
Events like the navy’s Long Ride and the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride aim not only to raise funds but to get men talking. And there’s hardly a better lure than a bunch of smart Ducatis, BMWs, Hondas, Harleys and Indians (had to slip that last one in – Editor) to draw a crowd of men together.
If 10 fellows gathered around a bunch of bikes spread the word about prostate cancer to five of their mates and that results in just one person avoiding a cancer calamity, that’s a great thing.
There is another dimension to the Long Ride, and one that featured in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride: a message about mental health.
Brandon and Tanya Blank are riding a Yamaha with personalised a number plate honouring their daughter Sarah, who had mental health problems and died three years ago.
If the number plate prompts conversation along the way, and encourages men to open up about their own mental health, that will be a bonus.
As most motorcycle riders will tell you, taking a long ride is great for the soul – once you get out of the big city and its traffic.
Being out in the open on a long ribbon of tar, with the sky above and the smell of the bush around you is strangely meditative and grounding. There’s no mobile phone to nag you, no radio shock jock to inflame you.
To share this with mates and all for a good cause is even better.
We salute our our navy riders taking part in the Long Ride.