Triumphantly rolling into Mudgee on Saturday afternoon, the 2019 Late Mail Postie Bike ride finished their trek through NSW in the name of raising money for families in need.
Having raised just over $208,000 this year for the Wingz4Kidz charity, 61 riders and support crew were glad to be back after a ride that was almost derailed by the theft of several motorcycles and equipment on Thursday.
CEO and co-founder of Wingz4Kidz, Brendan Crane - who has ridden every one of the last six years - told the Mudgee Guardian that despite the setback, this year's Late Mail ride was as good as it's ever been
"The ride was fantastic, we travelled through some pretty drought-stricken areas which is...it's a hard thing to see. I come from Sydney and you don't quite have an idea of the scope of how bad these things are. The reason I say it's fantastic is because we can go out to these areas and we've taken fresh money into these areas," Mr Crane said.
It was a hard thing to see first thing in the morning.Wingz4Kidz CEO and rider, Brendan Crane
"The locals are always quick to come out and support us, Moree Public School, they raised $1216 for us. You know they have a student population of 130 kids so you know, it was great to have their support,"
When the group was robbed in Forster, it threatened to force some riders into support vehicles, but thanks to generous supporters, they were all able to end the ride together.
"[Thursday] We were sadly woken up to the grim reality that we had three bikes stolen from us overnight as well as a donation box," Mr Crane said.
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"But, it's one of those things where - as gut-wrenching as it was, to be experiencing that it shows how close our team is,"
"All it took was a couple of phone calls and we had people driving out from Mudgee with spare bikes and spare motors so we could ensure everyone was back on a bike to ride in the next day,
"It was a hard thing to see first thing in the morning but to see the eventual outcome of having everyone back on the bike...from bad things, great things come, you could say."
Brendan said the feelings he gets riding into town with the whole team can be mixed.
"It's always a feeling of relief first from my side of things. Because we have 61 people we have to make sure get home safely. You have to feed them all every day and have somewhere for them to sleep," Mr Crane said.
"But then you've got the elation side of things, this is something that is 10 months in the planning. You have to have a brilliant team, and I'm lucky we do,"
"We call them our late mail family, who just continue to blow us away year after year with such huge fundraising totals."
Brendan said there are three primary goals for the event every year, all of which he says they managed to tick off.
"This first one is to have fun. We ticked that off, as we have every other year. Because if the guys aren't having fun, they're not going to come back,"
"The second one is fundraising. $208,000 was raised. We've definitely ticked that one off,"
"The third is just to raise awareness for Wingz4Kidz. We're building our reputation, we're still relatively new as far as charities go. It's just about making sure that people know we exist so we can continue to grow our family base and keep helping more and more families that really need it,"
"We couldn't do it without the incredible work of our families, volunteers and supporters."
Over the last six years the Late Mail Postie Bike ride has raised over $810,000 for Wingz4Kidz with a goal of surpassing $1 million in 2020.
Wingz4Kidz provides flight transport to children and their families so they can access treatment otherwise only accessible by hours of car travel.
To support the Wingz4Kidz, visit their official website at: wings4kidz.org.au