Ken Barratt’s first Australian Rotary Health Ride for Research (ARH) was in 2003, commencing in Frankston, continuing to Geelong via Berwick, Bacchus Marsh, Cressy, and Apollo Bay. Since then he has ridden in 13 ARH rides, covering different parts of Victoria, Adelaide, Canberra and Tasmania.
Ken’s cycling experience was off-road on a heavy hybrid bike. He believed he was ready to cycle in the ARH ride. The mental challenge, along with the physical challenge to ride for six days is huge! After this experience on his hybrid bike, he changed to a much lighter road bike.
Ken’s Rotary Club, Boronia is one of the organisers. Every year he was ‘encouraged’ to join, particularly as he was a cyclist! Ken said he supports ARH and sought sponsorship through his business and personal contacts, contributing over $20,000. That’s a great effort!
Ken’s most memorable ride was in 2009. The ride was to Hobart via the western coastline of Tasmania through Queenstown and Strachan.
“The countryside was magnificent and the road very challenging.”
This ride was the first leg of the ‘Round Australia Ride’ which took over 7 months to complete. Covering 18,000 kilometres, they raised a considerable amount of money.
Over the past 25 years, The Rotary Club of Boronia and the Rotary Club of Healesville have lead District 9810 clubs in organising the ride. Every year, they encourage participation from new cyclists, drivers and other support people. During this time, District 9810 Rotarians and friends have proudly contributed over $1,000,000.
Until 2 years ago, the ride was arranged by a very dedicated Boronia Rotarian, Rob Henry. His dedication and knowledge was a major contributing factor to the ride’s success. Sadly, Rob passed away in 2017. In Rob’s memory, particularly for his wonderful contribution to the ride, ARH created an annual Cancer Research Fellowship in his name. Funds raised by District 9810 via the ride are applied to this scholarship. This year it was over $41,000.
In recent years, Ken said, safety has become a major factor. The ride’s route is carefully chosen to minimise the risk to cyclists. Over the past 20 years, purpose-built bike trailers which carry more than 50 bikes have been made. Each team is supported by a lead vehicle and a bike trailer. The ride has been fortunate to have several major car companies supporting it with vehicles, such as General Motors, Kia, Nissan, and Toyota.
Another major change Ken has seen is the development of a new category called Virtual Rider. This category enables anyone interested in the ride, who cannot participate, for a small fee, support ARH by arranging sponsors. Virtual riders can keep up to date with the progress of the ride via Facebook.
The Rotary Club of Boronia was chartered in April 1968. They currently have 34 members. Ken joined in 1994. He was a Past President 2001-2002.
Australian Rotary Health
‘Our ride is not a race.’ Ken told me. He continued on to say, ‘ We enjoy the flexibility of stopping at country wineries, pubs, and coffee outlets when we find them, as long as we maintain our schedule.’
For information on the 2020 ride, visit the ride website.