TEN motorcyclists from HMAS Albatross left on a grand adventure, tackling this year’s Defence Long Ride around Tasmania raising money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
The riders left the Nowra naval base on Wednesday morning bound for Wagga where they will meet up with 14 other riders from RAAF Base Wagga, forming what will eventually become more than a 30 rider strong defence team.
And already the local team has achieved its goal of raising $20,000.
One of the local organisers Brandon Blank said the local team had exceeded its fundraising efforts but was keen to add to its tally during the ride south to Melbourne and then the actual ride around Tasmania.
“We had originally aimed to raise $10,000 but then between the two bases we decided we should up the ante to $20,000,” he said.
“All the participants have done their bit in raising those funds, along with HMAS Albatross, RAAF Base Wagga and the many local businesses and community members who have backed our efforts.”
Six local riders headed off earlier in the week.
“We will meet another two riders on the road and then team up together with the riders from Wagga on Thursday,” Brandon said.
They will leave Wagga Thursday morning under police escort, making their way to Melbourne onto the ferry, across Bass Strait and onto Tasmania.
The local riders will cover around 2700 kilometres in their 10-day journey to and then around the Apple Isle.
Onboard a variety of bikes including Japanese, American and European machines, ranging from 250cc up to 1600cc, the locals will visit Burnie, Strahan, have two nights in Hobart, travel onto St Helens and Launceston before finishing in Devonport.
“We must thank everyone who has supported our efforts,” Brandon.
For Brandon and his wife Tanya, who is also making the trip, the ride is taking on special significance.
The couple purchased a new 2017 Yamaha FJHR 1300 machine for the ride and unbeknown to each other, came up with an idea to honor their daughter Sarah who passed away three years ago.
The couple have personalised the number plates on the bike with the word Sezza, Sarah’s nickname.
“Sarah battled with mental health problems and unfortunately we lost her three years ago,” he said.
“Sarah and I would ride bikes together.
“We just saw this as a way of honouring her and the number plate is also a conversation starter. A lot of people have inquired what it means or is for.
“It is so appropriate with it being Mental Health Week (October 8-14) to also to be able to spread the word and raise awareness.”
Commanding officer of HMAS Albatross Captain Fiona Sneath, along with commanding officer of 816 Squadron Commander Anthony Savage and commanding officer of 725 Squadron Commander Matthew Royals, whose squadrons both have members taking part, farewelled the riders, saying it was a “proud occasion”.
“It is really good to see a team get together and support a really good cause,” Captain Sneath said.
“The ADF has been a long supporter of the Prostate Cancer Foundation through the Long Ride for a number years.
“It’s a great example of getting people together from the various units within Albatross to operate together and build up that team environment, spread the word and also involve the community.”
You can still donate to Team Albatross’ efforts - go to https://thelongride2017.everydayhero.com/au/team-albatross