Sunday 7 January saw the Tumut Cycle Classic reach a formidable milestone, when some 400 cyclists contested the annual charity bike ride.
As its name suggests, the cycling showpiece is held in and around the charming New South Wales township of Tumut, a location with a rich history and breathtaking natural beauty.
Located more than 400 kilometres from the bustling Sydney CBD, this picturesque hamlet of almost 7,000 residents has become the backdrop for an annual event that has captivated cycling enthusiasts.
Held every January, the Tumut Cycle Classic is now more than just a cycling event; it’s a testament to the power of community, charity and the enduring spirit of those who organise and participate in it.
The brainchild of Dr Tarek Sari, a well-known Sydney chiropractor and the founder of The Back Specialist Health Clinic in Greenacre, the Tumut Cycle Classic came into existence in 2015.
Dr Sari, who served as the president of the Classic from its inception until 2022 and remains its treasurer and chief organiser, was inspired to create an event that would not only bring together cycling enthusiasts but also contribute to the betterment of the community.
With the support of co-founders Sydney Muslim Cyclists (SMC), Dr Sari and 50 SMC members embarked on the inaugural Tumut Cycle Classic, marking the beginning of an annual tradition that would quickly evolve into a major fundraiser for the Tumut Hospital.
The first-ever Classic in 2015, with approximately 50 local Tumut cyclists also joining the cause, managed to raise almost $5,000.
This initial success set the stage for what would become an annual gathering of cyclists from all corners of Australia, coming together in the scenic Snowy Mountains for a day of cycling and camaraderie.
The funds raised from the event have steadily grown over the years, with this year’s Classic pushing the total raised to a staggering $275,000.
Dr Sari told AMUST, “The appeal of the Tumut Cycle Classic goes beyond its scenic routes and challenging climbs; it is a community-driven initiative that attracts around 400 riders, along with approximately 600 family members and other supporters, each and every year.
“The event has become a source of substantial economic support for the local Tumut community, with riders and their supporters staying in local hotels and motels.”
“We are proud to be supported by many local businesses, and we would like to thank all the riders, sponsors and volunteers for their support.”
As indicated earlier, the Tumut Cycle Classic isn’t just a race; it is an iconic, inclusive event open to both males and females of all ages, offering four different distance options for participants: 100, 75, 40 and 20 kilometres, with some age restrictions in the longer and more challenging rides.
Dr Sari outlines the impact of the funds raised, stating, “The proceeds from this year’s event are intended to include the purchase of an infrared vein finder and trolley for the Tumut Hospital and the donation of $40,000 to Careflight, for the use of the rapid response team which assists those in urgent need.”
Over the years, the Tumut Cycle Classic has been instrumental in funding various other essential medical equipment and services for the local Hospital.
Dr Sari recalls some of the milestones, saying, “In 2017, $20,000 was donated towards the purchase of eight mobile hospital beds, while in 2018, $40,000 was put towards the acquisition of endoscopic tele packs.”
The impact extended to 2019, where five heavy-duty bariatric beds were acquired at a cost of around $40,000, he added.
Even in 2020, when the event faced cancellation due to bushfires, sponsorships and registrations totalling $30,000 covered the donation of $20,000 to Tumut Hospital and $10,000 for the purchase of iPads for the Tumut Rural Fire Service.
The challenges of organising such an iconic event are not lost on Dr Sari, who acknowledges the meticulous planning required.
He explains, “There is a lot of organisation involved in putting the event together, seeking approvals from the local Council, the RMS, the police, ambulance and fire brigade, as well as cycling insurance, government bodies and more.”
There was even further complexity during the COVID-19 pandemic, when safety plans were required.
“Early and careful planning has been crucial in ensuring the success of the event each year,” Dr Sari emphasised.
Beyond the immediate impact on healthcare and emergency services, the Tumut Cycle Classic has also proven to be a significant boon for the local economy, as previously referenced.
Dr Sari proudly states, “The event is great for the local economy, bringing in over 1,000 visitors (cyclists and their families) every year, and we estimate that the Tumut Cycle Classic has injected more than $1.5 million into the local economy since its inception.”
The enduring support from the Sydney Muslim Cyclists, who consider it a great getaway and a fun event for a worthy cause, reflects the event’s ability to bring people together for a shared purpose.
As the Tumut Cycle Classic continues to grow in stature and impact, it stands not only as a testament to the beauty of the Snowy Mountains but also as a shining example of how a community-driven initiative can make a lasting difference in the lives of those it serves.
The organisers, sponsors, volunteers and participants have created much more than just a cycling event; they have woven a tapestry of support, compassion and camaraderie that will continue to resonate in the hearts of all who are involved.