This weekend Kurri Mongrels club member Mad Dog Ben Jacka will recognise the Australian Hotels Association NSW – Newcastle Hunter's $5,000 donation to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service in place of its regular stint as Major Sponsor of the annual Coalface Pedal, by undertaking the Everest
- a gruelling, 24-hour, 8,848 vertical meter mountain bike ride.
2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, especially non-profit and social groups like The Kurri Mongrels bike club headed up by AHA member and The Station Hotel owner Billy Metcalfe.
"We have been severely restricted with riding and fundraising activities this year and our biggest event, the Coalface Pedal has been cancelled which was a real disappointment for the community, our sponsors, and especially for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service for which the event raises money," Billy said.
However, despite the event not going ahead this year Kurri Mongrels club member Mad Dog Ben Jacka has decided he will not be held back, and instead put his body and reputation on the line to recognise the Australian Hotels Association NSW – Newcastle Hunter's $5,000 to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service in place of its regular stint as Major Sponsor of the annual Coalface Pedal.
"AHA NSW - Newcastle Hunter deserves some recognition for their generous support, so I'm going to Everest to thank them, and I want to do it on gravel," Ben said.
For those unfamiliar with mountain biking, Ben is not traveling to Nepal but Moonan Flat in the Hunter Valley where he will undertake a gruelling 8,848 vertical meter ride on a bicycle in one day.
"I was happy to do this ride in honour of the AHA and the generosity they've shown to us as a bike group and charities like Westpac Rescue Helicopter..."
While most who attempt this feat do so on a top-level mountain bike, Ben plans to complete the arduous course on a 1980s Mongrels pub bike donated by the owner of Cessnock Bicycle Company, Steve Whitby.
"The bike is heavy, has no suspension, and has old school cantilever brakes, making the task of Everesting even harder," Ben said.
"I do a lot of 24-hour mountain bike races, and in this one, I'll be doing nine or 10 22km round-trip laps of the trail which should take about 24 hours. A different member of the Mongrels will accompany me on each lap. I know it will be hard but it's worth it.”
When asked the big question of why he is doing the ride, Ben said he values the important service the Westpac Rescue Helicopter provides for the community and recognises the friendship and comradery he found the day he turned up at the local pub to participate in his first group bike ride.
"Pubs have been a big part of feeling accepted by the Mongrels group. I did my first ride with them from The Station Hotel at Kurri Kurri on an old bike, then eventually got a better one and just kept going. It's been eight years now and the weekly ride from The Station Hotel is one of my favorites, not just because it was my first, but because you can just turn up and are made to feel welcome. I've had ups and downs in my life like everyone and there's just something about the local pub atmosphere that's akin to making friends.
"I was happy to do this ride in honour of the AHA and the generosity they've shown to us as a bike group and charities like the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service."
Ben will begin the ride this Friday, 23 October at around 3pm and aims to complete the journey 24 hours later at 3pm on Saturday.
You can support Ben on his EveryDayHero page and there are donation tins on the bar at The Station Hotel, Kurri Kurri.