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Loop the Lake – then and now

The Rotary Club of Warners Bay has run the Loop the Lake  event around beautiful Lake Macquarie for 18 years; we thought it worthy of recalling how it all began.

Alan and Laurie Beard, long time members of the Rotary Club of Warners Bay, were instrumental in kicking off the first formal Loop the Lake for charity in 1997.

Alan, a keen cyclist, had been on Big Rides and observed recreational rides around Newcastle. In fact the Newcastle Cycleways movement already conducted their own ride around Lake Macquarie, called ‘Loop the Lake’, for about 20 riders. Alan liaised with this group about extending this ride into a much larger community event as a charity fundraiser.

“They were happy for me to retain the name Loop the Lake. My vision then was to raise money for a play therapist for the John Hunter Children’s Hospital. So funds from the ride went towards this worthy cause. Our first formal event had 600 riders. We did everything on a shoestring including making our own masonite signs,” said Alan.

Laurie said, “I bought cheap calico and painted numbers on 1000 square rider bibs. An it was very important for me to train the marshalls well.”

Alan and Laurie came along to this year’s event and reminisced. “It was like old times, with riders sitting under the trees comparing stories.”

Eighteen years later, the foundations that Alan and Laurie developed are still in place and organisers are very grateful for their hard work and commitment. “But we now use our data-base to communicate regularly with our members and have our own Facebook page.  We no longer make our own bibs and signs.

“To gauge how we were tracking with this event, in 2014, we undertook a rider survey. A total of 298 riders completed the survey. Of around 1800 riders, those completing the survey comprised some 16.6%.

“We found that of all aspects of the event, the route rated highest, followed by how the event was run and then camaraderie and finally food.”

57% of riders were local, 25% were from Sydney, 13% from the Hunter.

The riders were asked to give the event an overall rating out of 10, with the average overall rating 9 out of 10.

Loop the Lake raises funds for local and international charities including the John Hunter Children’s Hospital, the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children and Mercy Ships.

You can register and find out more  by visiting www.loopthelake.com.au or on the day at Speers Point Park, Morisset or Belmont South. This year kids under 15 are free.

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