Scorcher before Schoolies: Riders set off on 115km challenge
A BIG wet blanket may have been thrown on Schoolies Week celebrations, but that has done nothing to dampen the fire in the bellies of 15 Ipswich high school lads on an annual pedal-powered pilgrimage.
Aside from training three times a week for the past eight months, a group of fighting fit St Edmund's students has been raising tens of thousands of dollars for important local charities Ipswich Hospice Care and St Vincent de Paul.
All that hard work and preparation was put into practice Friday morning, with the boys handing over a $36,000 check for the two organisations to share, before setting off on a 115km ride from their school's front driveway, to Surfers Paradise.
The annual School to Schoolies Ride has become a proud tradition for the Ipswich school, and COVID-19 stood Buckley's chance of stopping the juggernaut in 2020.
Year 12 student and convoy leader Luc van Meurs said the riders had been in training since term 2 this year.
"It's always a bit of give and take with the bike," he said.
"Some days you feel great, and others you feel a bit flat, but we have put in a lot of training so I think we will be OK.
"The heat will be the main challenge I think."
The boys set off through a guard of honour, amid temperatures reaching the low 30s on Friday.
Their 115km route will take them up Springfield-Greenbank Arterial Rd, Middle Rd and then onto the service roads running parallel to the M1.
Avoiding heavy traffic is another challenge of the ride, but a big convoy has its safety advantages.
The ride usually takes about six hours, and a big barbecue feast awaits the convoy as they arrive at the coast.
From there, Luc says some of the boys will head off for their own Schoolies Week celebrations.
"It has been a tricky year to plan for Schoolies," he said.
"Some of us are just doing a quiet celebration. I'm heading up the Sunshine Coast where I think it will be a bit tame compared to the Gold Coast."
St Eddies principal Ray Celegato said the success of the fundraising effort was a sign of Ipswich's community spirit being alive and well.
"The whole community has come together and done a great job, and to me that is the strength of Ipswich," he said.