THEY are generations apart but Tony Bainbridge and Cooper Bell have one important thing in common – cycling to save lives.
While Tony was born before WWII and Cooper just 11 years ago – their common bond is that both are taking part in the Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge this year.
This is Tony’s fourth Cardiac Challenge and Cooper’s first – but the two and their support crews are just as determined as each other to make it through the three-day fundraising bike ride from Cairns to Cooktown. Tony, 77, says his first Cardiac Challenge was a natural progression.
“I had pretty bad arthritis in my knees … I almost couldn’t walk, but then I started riding a bike and found I could get around pretty well without any pain,” Tony says.
“Then I decided to join the Karumba ride, so I did that in the July and then I thought ‘well, I’m fit now, I’ll go and do the Cooktown ride’.” He suffered a serious accident on December 12 last year when he was struck by a car whilst on his bike but after four weeks in hospital and surgery, he is now back on the bike and ready to ride again.
Tony says of his six siblings, three have died of heart-related issues and the other three are still alive with heart issues. “I’m the only one without and I put it down to pushing a bike around.”
Cooper Bell’s father Andrew is a first time Cardiac Challenger and says the whole family are now cycling addicts. “My father-in-law had a serious heart condition and I know that if it wasn’t for the people in the heart ward, he wouldn’t be around today,” Mr Bell said. “I’m not joking, every single day, Cooper says he can’t wait for the bike ride.”
The pair are dedicated mountain bikers, as is the whole family, with Andrew and Cooper riding Lake Morris Road every Tuesday after school, and out to Palm Cove and back (about 70km) every spare Sunday. “I just wish we’d discovered cycling sooner,” Mr Bell said.
The Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge is held September 19-21 and raises funds for cardiac services at Cairns Hospital. Every year up to 350 riders raise up to $350,000. Foundation fundraising and marketing manager Glenys Duncombe said the motivation of all riders was admirable and she was excited about this year’s event.
Cardiac Challenge is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of a dynamic calendar of events throughout the state.
For further information about the Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge visit www.cardiacchallenge.com.au.
Back to all news