Presidents AGM Report

AGM 30th November 2022

We are not the only organisation to lose a bit of momentum during the difficult periods of lockdown, however the other side of that particular coin is that as far as I am aware, not one of our riders has been taken by the pandemic. Although it does seem that we will have to endure continuing waves of variants into the future the mortality rate is likely to be lower, given the availability of vaccines and antivirals.

With that history in mind and our hard-working Secretary’s enthusiasm unabated, John and the other two musketeers, Lee and Bernie, prompted the running of our return event out of Halls Gap, over a few days leading up to the Melbourne Cup. Thanks to divine intervention and St Paul ‘The one who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know’ 1 Corinthians 8:2, we were indeed blessed with fine weather for both the first recovery ride and the following day’s main event.

Given a ‘birdcage’ in the hand was better than one in the bush, the risk averse decision to abandon on day three was ordained, however three of our riders Messrs Simmonds, Andrews and Aldenhoven were rewarded for their patience, and enjoyed a fine ride, each other’s company and food aplenty, thanks to Faye and certainly in keeping with the ‘We Sustain’ motto of the bait layers.

Just prior to our sojourn to the Grampians, VetRide also entered a team for the (previously 2019 pandemic cancelled) United Energy ‘Around the Bay’. About 30 riders braved the cold conditions and the back and forth over the Westgate Bridge. The day and the usual 10,000 riders finally began to warm up as we took in glimpses of the bay, followed inexorably by the satisfaction of having completed another 100k milestone. Does the medal go on the left of the others or the right ?

Over the last year and in keeping with our commitment to the wellbeing of veterans, VetRide has also engaged with some other like-minded organisations. Although it is a no-brainer to an artist or a musician, in this era there is an emerging focus on the value of ‘therapy’, based on engagement in artistic activities. The value of the therapeutic programs appears to have mainstream acceptance within the current and the recent serving ADF members, and one such program is now in use by the Australian Defence Force, designed by Tanya Johnston at the Australian National Veterans Arts Museum. VetRide is also collaborating with ANVAM in regard to the proposed building project located in the Arts precinct at 310 St Kilda Road, Melbourne*.

Thanks to Gary (Jazz), who is a VetRide committee member and Lieutenant Colonel, Administrative Commanding Officer – Welfare Land Domain, Paul and I attended a Mental Health and Welfare Event at Victoria Barracks on 3rd November. The invitation was prompted by Gary’s view that as there are riders within our group who are current and recent serving, VetRide would be better informed about how Defence supports its members. It was certainly an eye-opener in terms of the ADF’s focus on the wellbeing of both its uniform members, civilian contractors and employees.

As a flow on, VetRide has pleasingly, also now been invited by Defence to attend their bi-annual transition seminars, and also to participate through our presence as a stallholder. For that to happen we will be ably assisted by both Jazz and Gary (no it’s not binary fission) another one of our riders who as a WO1, previously co-ordinated these seminars. A fortunate stroke of serendipity!

Your ongoing participation in Bicycle Network (BN) events like the Around the Bay and the Great Victorian Bike Ride has solidified our presence within their 50,000 strong membership base, and although we may be a ‘piccolo’ peloton by comparison, the fact of our service has been enough to inspire BN to partner with VetRide for an event.

The Weekender’ *** ride is timed to take place over the weekend immediately prior to ANZAC day 2023, and as you will see from their website, BN will provide their usual full range of support facilities, in the same way they do for the Great Vic.

For our part we will act as the interface, in terms of the recognition and commemoration of ANZAC. This will be achieved in a number of ways, the most important being your presence within the expected 1000 or so members of the public, who it is hoped will sign up.

Your efforts will be supported by our recently appointed VetRide Patron, Dave Sabben MG and our Cycling Ambassador, Shane Kelly OAM, and as a veteran the full cost of your entry and a ‘Ride Anzac’ jersey will be covered by a grant we have succeeded in obtaining, from the Victorian Government’s ANZAC Day Proceeds Fund and Victorian Veterans Council.

On administrative matters, VetRide has been contacted by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV), the organisation who oversee the control of assets that are held on trust for the people of Victoria, and including so called ‘patriotic’ funds, that exist for the welfare of veterans.

CAV has invited VetRide to establish a Patriotic Fund, which will enable us to receive grants and donations from organisations including eg the RSL and the VVAA, who also have a Patriotic Fund. A recent proposed transfer of a generous donation from Greensborough RSL from their Patriotic Fund account was unable to be processed, because we did not have the equivalent account, and that then has given rise to the idea of its being established. At the same time we will need to amend our Constitution, so as to afford the opportunity to receive these kinds of gifts.

On that timely note and behalf of your committee, I wish you all the best for the festive season and look forward to pedalling our wares with you, sometime in the new year.

Peter Liefman OAM
VetRide Incorporated

Presidents Update

What a year! As 2020 continues to have us spinning our pedals backwards the committee has taken advantage of the lull to develop new initiatives to take VetRide into the future.

In keeping with the intent to spread the VetRide ideal and broaden our footprint, Queensland and Victoria have developed a joint strategy to increase our membership. An initial recruiting focus in the Townsville and Brisbane regions seeks to add to our membership from currently serving ADF personnel.

A direct request to the Federal Member for Herbert, Mr Phillip Thompson OAM MP, has seen an in principle agreement to support our efforts. Phillip is an ex-serving member of the ADF; serving with the 1st Battalion he saw service in East Timor and Afghanistan. Severe injuries from an IED in Afghanistan saw return to Australia and a long road to recovery. Since the move from the Army to civilian life he has worked to champion mental health and suicide prevention. In 2018 he was awarded his OAM for his significant service to the welfare of war veterans.

A further focus on current and recently discharged ADF members has seen the commencement of negotiations with a large group of cyclists from the now disbanded Soldier On Cycling. Despite the many generational differences it is pleasing to see the common ground we share in terms on interest and intent.

Mountain Biking in Australia has been on of the fastest growing sports over the last few years. The committee has discussed how we could support this discipline within VetRide more than we have in the past. There are many challenges in achieving this; not the least of which is the risk of alienating current members through the fear of ‘not keeping up’ or ‘I can’t do that’. The same fears could be present among those coming from MTB to road or gravel.

Another growing area of cycling, not only within a Australia but also worldwide, is the advent of electric bicycles particularly pedelec (PEdal ELEctric Cycle) in the MTB world. Advances in battery technology and decreasing costs means that these bicycles are a viable solution to many of the concerns mentioned above. The uptake of these types of MTB has Specialized predicting that production of conventional mountain bikes will cease in the future.

There are also numerous bolt on kits that can be used to convert those old bicycles we no longer use to a pedelec; of course, having a couple of old GT’s lying around this is what I have done; stay tuned for a further post on how I went about this.

In the mean time stay strong ;there is light at the end of this pandemic tunnel and we are sure to see a return to normalcy – however gradual it may be.