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16 May, 2022

Bikes to help Quilty riders

The Tom Quilty Gold Cup is a feat of horsemanship, with horses and riders working together to cover 160km in one day, but behind the scenes is a troop of equally dedicated motorbike riders.

By Supplied

The Bike Boys have the important job of checking and maintaining the track for the horse riders and to be first responders should there be an incident.

They camp away from the main site so as not to disturb the horses, and while they are heard, they are rarely seen.

The roar of bikes infiltrates the air before competition starts. As quickly as it begins it fades into silence.

At Tooraweenah the Bike Boys are an experienced bunch.

Each year, Tooraweenah Endurance Club hosts its own event, with courses for 7km, 20km, 40km or 80km.

Ben Gale has been working on the Tooraweenah Endurance Ride track for the past 27 years. He became involved through his uncle Paddy Gale, now 87, who was an avid endurance rider.

“The bike riders needed some help, so I helped out, and then took over and never stopped doing it,” he said.

In the lead up to an endurance ride the Bike Boys, together with club president Anthony Blessing, spend many of their days off and weekends preparing the

track. This includes grading roads, swinging gates, slashing, filming the tracks with Go Pro cameras, liaising with landholders, and erecting directional arrows and caution signage.

“On the day of the ride we leave in the dark at least an hour before the horse riders,” he said. “During the day we then shut all the gates and open gates for other legs. I think on ride day we ride at least double or more than the actual horses.”

“The Tooraweenah track is largely accessible for vehicles however bikes are quicker we also use a side-by-side buggy to put out arrows.”

“On the tracks we see lots of wild ani- mals, kangaroos, pigs, goats, emus, sheep, and we have had a few close calls with kangaroos.”

The Bike Boys tend to use trail bikes mostly 450cc trail bikes, with a buggy on hand for rescues.

“The buggy does the rescues usually, but the bikes have been used to go look- ing for riders who may be lost.”

Ben’s son Nick who is nearly 15 has been waiting many years to join the bike boys he has been helping for a long time in many ways and started riding full time with the crew just over two years ago when he was 12. 

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