ON THE WILD SIDE: Malcolm Keys with his happy pillion from a past Cruise for Cancer.
ON THE WILD SIDE: Malcolm Keys with his happy pillion from a past Cruise for Cancer.

Climb aboard a Harley and Cruise for Cancer

WHAT is so good about climbing on the back of a Harley Davidson as part of the Cruise for Cancer?

Co-organiser Dianne Hubbard is the perfect person to ask.

She and her husband, John, started out as event sponsors, providing the supporters' bus 16 years ago, and loved it so much they bought their own Harley ... now they own three.

Dianne says the allure of riding (or being a pillion in her case) is hard to put into words, but includes the feeling of the wind in your face, the freedom, the openness and uninterrupted views.

Each year about 100 people get to experience that joy as pillions on the Cruise for Cancer, climbing aboard for a three-hour tour through the Downs.

On August 27, this year's 200km ride - which includes highway and twists and turns down the backroads - will head to Warwick for a country morning tea, before returning to Queens Park for a barbecue lunch.

Your $125 registration also includes a commemorative ride t-shirt and photo.

Participants are asked their height, weight and age, so they can be matched with a bike (and seat) to ensure the best day possible, with some, Diane said, feeling like a lounge chair on wheels.

The majority of pillions (not to mention the riders) are over 40, with the oldest participant to date being 83 - but don't let that stop you!

Many pillions are cancer survivors who have always wanted to ride a Harley and see this as the perfect way to do so and help a cause close to their heart.

"A lot of people once they get on the bike for the first time, come back and say 'now I understand why you love this so much', and a lot of them come back to ride again," Dianne said.

She remembers fondly her late mother-in-law taking part after her first bout of cancer treatment, with no idea her best friend was on the back of another bike, and the pair's elation at having shared the experience as they met up afterwards.

Over the past 15 years, the event, run by the Darling Downs Harley Owners' Group and Toowoomba Rotary, has raised $250,000.

The first $10,000 raised each year goes to sponsor a room at the Olive McMahon Lodge, run by the Cancer Council, where cancer sufferers can stay during treatment at no cost. The remainder goes to cancer research.

"It's just a fantastic day, helping a worthy cause and the money raised stays in Toowoomba," Dianne said.

And she said the riders - everyone from doctors and solicitors to tradies and business owners and beyond - love sharing the experience.

Members of the Darling Downs group are supported by volunteers from Brisbane, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and Dalby, some of whom have been taking part for over a decade.

Family and friends of riders who would like to go along but don't want to ride themselves, or can't afford to, can hop aboard the supporters' bus and join in the rest of the day's activities for just $40.

To find out more, go to www.cruiseforcancer.net.au or call Dianne on 07 4630 7074 or Maureen on 07 4613 6345.

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