[singlepic id=133 w=320 h=240 float=left]A field of more than 65 riders saddled up for the inaugural ‘Ride for Isabel’ on Saturday to launch Bike Week 2010 in Far North Queensland, said Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt.

The 85 kilometre bike ride between Flying Fish Point and Woree was organised to honour the memory of his daughter Isabel and to raise awareness and funds for Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support Queensland.

“Despite the poor weather at the start of the ride, we had a great turnout from riders of varying ages, experience and fitness levels,” Mr Pitt said.

“The group made excellent progress and arrived at all of the rest stops ahead of time due to a strong tailwind.

“I know that the strong winds were courtesy of Cyclone Ului off the coast, but I’d like to think that Isabel had something to do with it.”

Mr Pitt said that the tally for funds raised hadn’t yet been finalised but it will be in excess of $3,000.

“This figure largely comprises the riders who registered for the event, but we received a healthy amount of online donations from as far afield as Brisbane,” Mr Pitt said.

“I’d like to give special thanks to Glenys Duncombe and David O’Loughlin for their advice, the drivers of our support vehicles, Queensland Police escorts and those organisations that gave in-kind support for the ride.

“Most people said they’d be back next year so we’re hoping to make the Ride for Isabel an annual event on the cycling calendar.

“Bike events like this go a long way to changing people’s attitudes towards cyclists and showcase that we have a highly organised and vibrant cycling community in the region.”

[singlepic id=132 w=240 h=320 float=left]Mr Pitt said the ride also had a focus on road trouble spots and cyclist safety as all of the riders had an opportunity to get a first-hand look at the challenges faced by cyclists on this route.

“The rain came down heavily as riders went into single file formation through the Eubanangee Swamp area,” Mr Pitt said.

“We had a couple of spills and a couple of riders were practically forced off the road by other road users.

“Debris on the road shoulders is a common problem – not just glass and pieces of tyre treads, but larger items like scaffolding components, buckets and other unsecured material that most likely flew off the back of a truck.

“The cane train tracks at Miriwinni that run parallel to the road caused problems with some riders coming to grief, and I think nearly every rider said a ‘Hail Mary’ as they went across Wrights Creek Bridge.”

Mr Pitt said that that there was good news on this front following a very successful North Queensland Mayors Roads Summit to determine priority projects to be put to the Federal Government.

“Minister for Main Roads Craig Wallace has listed widening of the Wrights Creek Bridge and realignment of the dangerous section of road at Eubenangee Swamp among his priorities.

“I’ve continued to call for works at Wrights Creek to be fast-tracked, both for the benefit of motorists and the region’s large cycling community.

“Realignment of the notorious stretch of the Bruce Highway that runs through Eubenangee Swamp is already designated as a high crash zone and motorists are warned to take care and reduce their speed to 90 kilometres per hour.”

Mr Pitt also said the notion that cyclists have no place on the road with cars because they aren’t registered has no basis.

“The vast majority of riders own a vehicle, some more than one, and they pay their rego like everyone else,” Mr Pitt said.

“In fact, many cyclists indicate they’d be happy to pay some kind of registration just to put an end to this nonsense.

“Nobody is suggesting that all motorists should get out of their cars and ride bikes, but those that choose this alternative should be able to do so safety.”

Mr Pitt said Bike Week (13 to 21 March) also offered the chance for Far Northern students in grades 5 to 7 to win a new bike to the value of $300.

To enter, visit www.travelsmart.qld.gov.au/bikegiveaway and answer 10 questions about bicycle safety and Bike Week. The online competition closes at 3pm EST on Friday 19 March 2010.

Bike Week is an annual event coordinated by Bicycle Queensland and as principal sponsor the Queensland Government is investing $49,000 in various events and educational activities across the State.