In 2007 we needed to create and dream big.
So many good times. So many great people. So much to be grateful for.
We moved to Forrest back in late February 2008.
Self employed in Geelong, working hard with a young daughter having a few ‘issues’ at that middle years stage. I won’t go into how the opportunity to move to Forrest came about but needless to say, it was a huge catalyst for our next chapter in life and business.
We became involved in trail advocacy, local commerce, creating awareness for visitation to the region, the trails and the businesses.
Our primary focus back in the early days was running a fundraising event for the club in the form of the Forrest 6hr. Members were few, though a passionate bunch.
Norm and Roland were heavily involved in making the Forrest 6hr happen, with club members helping on the day to run a booming event.
With Roland moving to Tasmania for work, with Norm getting tired of putting in the man hours it came to be that the club were happy to hand the event over with no one really equipped nor energised to do so. I guess this happens to clubs all over the country and world for that matter.
And so we were gifted back the Forrest 6hr and this then opened up the door to take events a little more seriously.
Around this time business was picking up in Forrest. Visitation was up and investment really taking place. Norm’s passion was still to share the village of Forrest with the wider community and involve local business so the creation of Forrest Festival came about.
Between Norm and myself we invented a 5 stage race that allowed people to stay in the region and chill out between races with friends and family and spend money in the town as well as have a great time on all of the trail network.
We were now 4 years into our time in Forrest, working hard in our other areas of self employment and running fun events. Yet we were both suffering in silence. Norm and I both introverts bought into a life where we could be left alone for days, and choose not to involve ourselves with the community. Only to come out to play on Thursday night rides and events.
Needless to say, we weren’t in a good mental state - neither of us.
Now we had a message we wanted to share, for we knew we were not alone and then came the birth of Chase the Dog in 2014. An event at the end of winter, to ride with mates in a supported environment to openly share our stories of struggle and survival with mental health issues.
The people who have done this event absolutely get our message and keep bringing back their friends. Puts huge smiles on our faces.
Now our final event, the Otway 300 has been a massive undertaking, call it a challenge if you will. 300km over two days in the Otways with a mate, long days, big climbs and again a supported environment with feed stations and marshals all along the way to make it that bit easier for all. We have ran this for 2 years now and it's a pretty special event, pretty amazing people who achieve this from elite athletes through to hard core adventure types. Small numbers, but it is a niche event and not for everyone. The logistics are huge but so are the rewards for us seeing the riders finish and totally froth over their achievements.
So thats our events in a nutshell.
We have many people to thank, many supporters, sponsors, volunteers, riders, fans and businesses that have added so much to our events. You have embraced them like your brother or sister, like one of your own and treated us as such.
Thank you to Kylie Hayles who has been the hard worker behind all the events, getting all the i’s dotted, doing all the crazy paperwork, having good volunteers on board, and being the person behind the scenes of every one of our events in the past 4 years.
The time has come however to call it a day.
Read this clearly...We Ride Bikes have run their last even - ever.
This includes the following
Norm and I are retiring on top of our game.
That is it for us.
We have had a fair innings, met loads of incredibly beautiful people who ride bikes and been able to pay the bills each time.
Our grand vision of seeing Forrest grow and prosper is a reality, please continue to visit and love this town.
We could cite many reasons for calling it a day.
The jumping through hoops with permits with a growing pile of documents each year with a ‘new’ department needing this “x” document completed with $$$ paid before permit will be issued makes running events a little tiresome.
The slow down in numbers, the slow uptake of early entries etc..also adds to the stress of ensuring you can fund the event in the first place.
And finally, the biggest reason, we feel we have done everything we hoped for the community of Forrest and need to move on to our next chapter well before we become tired and cranky!
Running events is fun and rewarding, we have made a lot of great friends and delivered a lot of good times.
For this we are proud, we are sad yes, but really happy too.
Please join us for our farewell event - the Forrest 3, 6 & 10hr on Saturday May 6th.
A way for us to say thanks and a great fun time racing your mountain bike on some of Forrest’s finest trails.
Thank you to each and every one of you, it has been some of the best years of our lives.
It’s time for Norm and I to get back to riding our bikes and maybe even riding at someone else’s event!
Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts... Jessica and Norm Douglas - 2017