TourXOz is a relatively new name for a cycling event that began in 2010 when Neil Jackson and Gary Denman joined several other riders pedalling their way from Perth to Sydney to raise funds for the iconic charity, the Smith Family.
It was a significant effort, taxing on body and mind – an often lonely journey across the hostile and sometimes unforgiving countryside that is Australia. For the riders, it was a time to bond and also reflect on the vastness of this extraordinary country and the inherent isolation experienced by many individuals and families living in towns and farms dotted across the landscape.
For Neil,the crux was when, on the penultimate leg of the journey, he received the devastating news that his cousin in England had committed suicide.
Committed to the mental health cause
Both Neil and Gary agreed that in future, any rides they organised, would focus on raising awareness and funds towards mental health, an issue that affects many people.
The two friends were committed to their pact and in 2013 they undertook the challenge of organising and participating in the Black Dog Perth2Sydney Ride AcrossAustralia, a 4,200km journey with 35 cyclists raising a remarkable $186,000($60,000 over their initial target). It put them in the history books of theBlack Dog Institute as the largest community fundraiser and confirmed the ride as a regular bi-annual event in the cycling calendar.
TourXOz Sydney to Perth 2013 Documentary
Black Dog signs MOU
In 2014, they signed a two-year Memorandum Of Understanding (renewable on mutual agreement every two years) with the Black Dog Institute.
In 2015, the team of 50+ riders aims to raise $250,000, cycling from Adelaide to Darwin via Uluru. Part of the ride will include visits and talks to local groups as well as indigenous communities where suicide rates rank amongst the highest in the world.
Media crucial to awareness
As in previous years, media coverage has been an important part of the planning as is logistics, finance, sponsorship, project and event management.
In 2013, the ride received overwhelming support with extensive radio, television and local newspaper stories highlighting the journey. The use of social media (specifically a social hub,facebook and twitter) allowed participants and their family and friends to track the team’s progress. It also provided real-time information for journalists to tap into.
State andFederal governments also lent their support with the WA Minister for Health,Helen Morton sending riders off from Perth and the NSW Minister, Kevin Humphries welcoming them in Sydney’s Centennial Park where the event finale was aired live on Channel 9’s breakfast broadcast followed by SBS’s coverage for its Cycling Central program.
The journey was also documented in a 17 minute film focusing on many of the riders, the landscape and the identities met on the way.
Without sponsors, it’s hard to operate
As with most fundraising activities, sponsors play a major part in the overall success of an event.
In 2013, the Perth2Sydney Black Dog Ride Across Australia was supported by a number of different levels of sponsorships whether cash or in kind donations such as food and clothing.
Gold sponsors included Amazon Web Services, Bruce Insurance and, Hub One. Silver sponsors were AthleteLab, Polycom and Fifteen Hundred. Bronze sponsors included Sandbox Media,Sanitarium, Toll, Unilever, Alere and Gatorade.
Participants also vied for the King Of the Mountain and Green Jerseys which were supported by Vittoria, Mediband, Acision and StrataMax.
You need to ask yourself…
This year the ride will continue to spread the message across the continent that Australians need to know that it’s okay to ask for help if you’re not feeling great and that depression, like most other illnesses, can be tackled and managed with the right support.