More than 180 riders will get their hearts pumping to provide better heart care in the 17th annual Cardiac Challenge charity ride, which arrives in Cooktown on Monday 18 September.
Among them is Thursday Islander Matthew River, riding in his second Cardiac Challenge with the aim of inspiring others in his community to focus on their health and exercise more.
Partner Sandie Edwards, who will join him in a support vehicle, said he had been circling their small island home on daily training rides which had already been inspirational for locals.
“He’s been round and round in circles, and hour in the morning and an hour at night, and we already have six people, three girls and three guys, who want to train for next year,” Ms Edwards said.
The three-day 330km ride, organised by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation, has raised $6 million for cardiac services in the Far North since its inception.
FNQHF CEO Gina Hogan encouraged Cooktowners to celebrate the riders as they arrived en masse on Monday 18 September.
“We would love to see the community come out and support and embrace these hundreds of cyclists, volunteers and supporters who have travelled to Cooktown the hard way – by bike,” Ms Hogan said.
“Not only are there benefits to the Cooktown community in the improved medical services provided in the region, but we book out the town and our visitors support local businesses – cafes, hotels and tourist operations.”
Ms Edwards said her partner had been training more for the ride this year, after a late start and a stolen bike robbed him of the opportunity last year.
“Last year he said ‘let’s do it’ and borrowed my grandson’s bike, which got stolen, then bought a bike of eBay and only had it for about four days before the ride,” she said.
“He was very chuffed with his achievement, and so he should be! But this year everyone has seen him training, which is good.”
Ms Edwards said they hoped to enter a whole Thursday Island-based team in the Cardiac Challenge next year, and also create a local riding group.
“We’re getting a group together, even the little ones can come along for a ride, we can take the bikes over to Horn Island and go for a ride there,” she said.
“We want to get more and more people enjoying exercise and eating healthy.”
The riders are expected to arrive in Cooktown about 12.30pm on Monday 18 September where they will ride as a pack via Harrigan Street and Charlotte Street to finish at William Daku Park on the waterfront.