North Wollongong’s Stuart Park was a sea of lycra and wheels as 10,000 cyclists rehydrated and rested numb behinds after finishing the MS Sydney to Gong bike ride.
The event held over two courses, 90 kilometres from St Peters and 58 kilometres from Engadine aimed to raise $4.5 million for MS Australia - $500,000 more than last year.
About 23,000 Australians live with multiple sclerosis which is a devastating neurological condition attacking the central nervous system.
The money raised will help support MS sufferers as well as to fund research into treatments.
Cyclists rode alone, with family or friends or represented their workplace in corporate teams.
SBS and Broadcast Australia joined forces this year to enter the largest team with 215 riders and had a fundraising target of $200,000.
Now in its 32nd year, the bike ride snakes along the northern Illawarra coastline. Highlights included riding through the Royal National Park, a rest stop at Bald Hill and the Sea Cliff Bridge.
Some dressed up for the event. Santa made time from his busy schedule to join the ride and there were plenty of super heroes along the way, including an appearance by Wonder Woman.
William Bond, 24, of Randwick, looked set for action in a Spiderman cycling suit.
‘‘My super hero friends should be here any minute on a tandem bike,’’ he declared. ‘‘One is Superman and the other is dressed up as another Spiderman.’’
But Mr Bond’s super human powers trumped all the other heroes having arrived almost an hour ahead of his peers - not that he was gloating.
‘‘I just love the event,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s for a good cause and it’s a great way to keep fit. Dressing up just adds to the fun of it.’’
Families, keen to make the ride an annual tradition, were also out in force.
Michael Earl and his son Matthew, 12, needed a lie down to recover after cycling from Engadine.
‘‘It’s just a good father and son activity,’’ said Mr Earl. ‘‘It’s a really nice way to see the coast and it’s a nice three hours away from his sister and mother. We’ve done a bit of training over the last six months so it didn’t take us that long - 21/2 hours.’’
For Sydney’s John and Jane Estell the Bike Ride has become a family tradition. After each ride they head to Figtree for a celebratory lunch with John’s mother.
‘‘We’ve done it about 12 times in the last 20 years,’’ said Mr Estell. ‘‘It’s taken us four hours, but we ride regularly, so it’s not too bad.’’
Mrs Estell first did the ride in the late 80s with her father when she was 21.
‘‘When I got married we decided to keep up the tradition,’’ she said. ‘‘We’ve done it pretty consistently for the last ten years.’’
It was their son Ben’s first ride and his only complaint, even after having to stop to fix a flat tyre, was that his backside was sore.
Considering the amount of riders the number of accidents was low this year. Ambulance officers were called to six incidents throughout the morning - some more serious than others.
At Stanwell Park a rider was transported to Sutherland Hospital after suffering a fractured collarbone and multiple abrasions. In the Royal National Park a 14-year-old boy sustained a shoulder injury and in a separate collision later three other riders were injured. At North Wollongong a 38-year-old man was treated for a deep cut to his ankle and at Sans Souci two riders were injured, one with a head injury, following a fall. All were transported to hospital.