Episode 16 - Simon Rimmer

  

  

In this episode we torque to Simon Rimmer, creator and founder of Gibb River Challenge.

The Gibb River Challenge is a socially competitive 660 kilometre team relay event raising community awareness and money for charity.

In this episode we cover: 

  • The story of how the Gibb River Challenge came about and how long it has been running
  • The experiences to watch out for at the Ord Valley Muster Event and the destination
  • What to expect from the event
  • Kind of training recommended for the event
  • The most creative fundraising a team or person has done to date
  • Things people did in the challenge that surprised Simon
  • The most interesting things Simon has seen in the event
  • The Fat Bike National Championships
  • Dates for the Gibb River Challenge
  • How to register to the Challenge

Links

Transcript:

 

FELICITY:

Welcome to the All Torque podcast, where each episode we interview an inspiring person to share their story with you. I'm your host, Felicity Dales, managing director of Body Torque.

I have here today, Simon Rimmer, a Sergeant with Western Australia Police. Who also created and founded the Gibb River Challenge, a 660 kilometre team relay event. It’s a socially competitive 660 kilometre team relay event raising community awareness and money for charity with the principal beneficiary this year being the Royal Flying Doctors Service. Apart from the teams from two to six riders that raised $1000 each as a minimum before joining the celebration of Fat Tyre Fellowship as a qualifying amount, if you’re not riding you can join as a Bloody Heroic Volunteer.

Welcome Simon.

SIMON:

G’day Felicity and thank you very much for the opportunity to just speak today about the Gibb Challenge.

FELICITY:

My pleasure. Simon, tell us your story. How did the Gibb River Challenge come about? From being a Police Sergeant to organising an epic event like this?

SIMON:

Well I got transferred to the Broome Police station back in 2003, thereabouts and was pretty much given an easy charter from my boss to follow. He said, “Make me look good.” So, I was always looking for community opportunities to engage with the community and showcase the WA Police to the communities we serviced and for a long time, I had actually been an aspirant for the Karratha to Broome Bike Marathon which is, gosh I think that’s into its twentieth year now.

FELICITY:

Wow.

SIMON:

It rides from Karratha to Broome, so 700, 800 kilometre trek from Karratha in the far north of Pilbara to the Broome Police Station. I love that event, participated three times and really enjoyed the fellowship that came with it. I found there was an opportunity maybe for us to create something special in the Kimberley and hatched a cunning plan to come up with the Gibb River Road Mountain Bike Challenge.  

FELICITY:

Well, it sounds like a great cunning plan and it’s done very well since then. How many years has it been running now?

SIMON:

Well we’re into our thirteenth episode, we’re going to kick off the new campaign at the end of this year but we’ve completed 12 successful crossings now of the Gibb River Road. Always looking for improvement and always looking for new people to join us each year ‘cause it seems to be something that does attract people for a short period. Maybe it‘s a bucket list journey destination for some and others will come repeatedly and of course now into the eighth and ninth and even their tenth episodes for the Gibb Challenge. There seems to be something for everybody and I think that’s what the special element of the event is and that’s why it brings so many people to us from every State and Territory in Australia.

FELICITY:

Fantastic. It’s part of the Argyle Diamond’s Ord Valley Muster event, what is that? Tell us about that?

SIMON:

That’s a remarkable community event in its own right. Now the Ord Valley Muster commenced in 2002 or thereabouts and essentially it was a community celebration for the Kimberley. A lot of people within Kununurra were celebrating the fact that they live in a remarkably beautiful part of Western Australia and from fairly small beginnings, they’ve created an event now that’s of epic proportions. Has something like 40 events across a ten-day program and we align ourselves quite rightly so with a very successful ending zone right and sort of piggy backed a little bit of their success. And I’d like to think now that our event beings something to their greater community celebrations.

The Ord Valley Muster has everything from a treasure hunt with kids fossicking around looking for pink diamonds that are buried in the sand through to some walking tours that take you through Mirima Park and all the beautiful gorges surrounding the Kununurra town site. And there’s river cruises and then of course there’s the Gibb Challenge, the bike ride that takes you from Derby through the savanna fields of the central and east Kimberley and onto Kununurra in time for the Kimberley Moon Experience.

FELICITY:

Oh lovely. Do you stay there for a night or a couple of days experiencing that or is that just on your way?

SIMON:

Yeah, no that’s a usually an intentional destination. We align our event so that we do arrive in Kununurra in time for the Kimberley Moon Experience and it is just for you to kick back, celebrate, catch up with some old mates from the east Kimberley and enjoy probably one of the greatest outdoor concert events that is available to us.  

FELICITY:

On the website it looks spectacular, the scenery looks truly amazing going through the Kimberleys to the town, Derby and to the world acclaimed El Questro Wilderness Park. That’s going to various stations, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. What can people expect along the way?

SIMON:

There’s something for everybody and I think that’s the beauty of the Gibb Challenge. It offers both a fairly significant personal challenge but the camping is a billion-star rating experience. You get out there on the Kimberley moon and enjoy some wonderful fellowship from like-minded people, doing some great things for the community as well, so it’s not just our principal beneficiary that receives some much-needed funds. But teams can also nominate a second registered charity and then ride in support of those very personal or regional relevant events for them as well.

At the end of it, you have this immense personal satisfaction having completed 660 kilometres, five days of camping and a lot of people come to us with not a great deal of riding experience. So, for them there’s huge personal challenges to overcome and honestly when they cross that line in El Questro they are, there’s sky thumping and fist punching, it’s a lot of fun. They really do celebrate their time.

FELICITY:

I was wondering that, what kind of training would you recommend for doing the event?

SIMON:

I think it’s important to embrace cycling for all that it’s worth, so if you’re not already commuting to and from work, maybe consider that once or twice a week, or as many times during the week that you can. And having that residual fitness is very important but it doesn’t need to be cycling specific and the beauty of the Gibb Challenge is, in a team relay format, it allows you up to six participants within each team. So, you can share that riding each day, as long as you’ve got a reasonable degree of fitness, you’re not going to suffer too badly on the seat and you’ll enjoy the fellowship at the end of the day.

FELICITY:

Sounds wonderful. What is the most creative fundraising a team or person has done to date?

SIMON:

I think the hats would have to go off to Lion Racing, they were a group that came to us from the Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa. And they devised, again a very cunning plan, it was one called ‘Beer Options’. It was a night of quiz night festivities but all of the questions, it was eight rounds of ten questions, all relating to a mystery beer that was placed before the table of competitors and you had to answer questions based on what you thought the beer was. At the very, very least without answering a single correct answer you’re guaranteed eight drinks of beer. That wasn’t a bad way to spend the afternoon.

FELICITY:

Oh yes.

SIMON:

And they were actually very successful, they raised something like $30,000 for WA Police Legacy when we were aligned with them many years ago. But one of our standout successes for a singular day of fundraising but geez it was a lot of fun. I really did enjoy that afternoon.

FELICITY:

And I’m sure everyone else did as well, so it wasn’t just them and getting a great result. I’m sure everyone had a merry time.

SIMON:

Yeah.

FELICITY:

Yeah.

SIMON:

It was very good.

FELICITY:

What sort of things have you seen people do that surprised you?

SIMON:

A lot of things, in fact after 12 years I’m not surprised by a great deal of things now, I’ve always got this expectation people are going to do something pretty wacky. But I love one in particular Gibb Challenge we had many years ago and a young fellow jumped up on stage, it was the second last night, we were at Home Valley Station and traditionally we have an auction to try and drive a few more fundraising dollars into the kitty. So this fella stands up and he auctions himself off, he says to the group in front of him, “Listen, I will ride to the Pentacost River tomorrow naked.” Well we’ve got to tell you, there wasn’t a great deal of takers because he wasn’t the most glamorous looking fella in the world and didn’t get a lot of interest.

But another young lady, she stood up right next to him, beautiful young lady and she offered the same thing. Well together, they raised a fair decent amount of money because there was a lot of interest and you’re seeing them both.

FELICITY:

Wow.

SIMON:

Pop down to the Pentacost without their gear on, so there’s some great examples of what people are prepared to do and I really do enjoy that. But we’ve had everything from marriage proposals, we’ve even celebrated two marriage ceremonies where people have..

FELICITY:

Oh really?

SIMON:

.. punched forward, got into camp early, exchanged their wedding vows and then joined us at camp dinner essentially as a reception. I’m really proud of those days, they’re fantastic that people would share such an important part of their lives with the dusty pelotons. So, it was really nice to have them join us in that capacity too.

FELICITY:

They’re both great examples and polar opposites, so fun and creative to say the least.

SIMON:

Yeah, very much.

FELICITY:

What was the most interesting thing you’ve ever seen?

SIMON:

Again, I just love the way that people work together and having being part of the event for so many years, it’s always lovely to see that often some relationships that were once fractured can be repaired. Beautiful example of a father and son riding together as a team and they’ve had some challenging times in their past and the young man joined us with a fair bit of baggage but by the end of it, they renewed their relationship and they were back on a stronger footing. I think the event has a wonderful potential there to mend fractured relationships as well as strain some great relationships as well. With my wife being with me now for 12 years through those periods, there’s some testing times for each of us on the bike ride but good to see we’re back through it and stronger for it.

That’s one of the interesting facets, I suppose, just seeing the relationships between people play out in a small five-day event that really is quite remarkable for the way that it can heal and play some little stresses in your relationships as well, it’s all good.   

FELICITY:

Yeah, it’s a challenge to overcome. It could be a good counselling service for people.

SIMON:

Or disastrous, Felicity. I’m not sure that I’d recommend it. Really depends on your strengths.

FELICITY:

That’s right and your courage.

SIMON:

Very much, yes you certainly need that.

FELICITY:

You mention the Mountain Bike Australia, the Fat Bike National Championships that you also run, so tell us more about that event.

SIMON:

I suppose that came by way of, a real gap in our calendar. We get most people together, we arrive in Broome, there’s a lot of excitement. We’re arriving usually on the Thursday or the Friday and the event is not until Sunday. But of course, Broome’s the actual gateway to the Kimberleys. So, a lot of people and a lot of teams were arriving, there’s a buzz of excitement around town and we didn’t harness that and I felt that was a terribly wasted opportunity.

So, a few years ago, we trialled some beach racing. We got everybody together down at Cable Beach Amphitheatre, we threw a little bit of a sundowner event with a few casual drinks and some beach racing. Put together a small improvised obstacle course on the beach and raced bikes around. Well that really sparked my imagination and I thought then to take the proposal through to Mountain Biking Australia to see whether they might sanction Australia’s first Mountain Biking Australia Fat Bike Championships.

They were very gracious and they allowed that to go ahead, so this year, we inaugurated the MTBA Fat Bike National Championships and we awarded national championships with jerseys and accolades to, I think, nine classifications across our offering including a junior champion for the first time. That was a really exciting development, so we see that now as being somewhere of the growth for the Gibb Challenge. Is that we can now offer a genuine prologue stage, all set on the beautiful beaches of Cable Beach overlooking the sunset and the camels in the background. And we get to race around on fat bikes and we vie now for national championship status. That’s pretty cool, a good way to start the event and then get ready for our epic adventure coming out of Derby and on our way to El Questro.

FELICITY:

Fantastic, so what day is that? That we can promote that to our listeners.

SIMON:

This will be the second MTBA Fat Bike National Championships, so I’m proposing Friday the 17th May 2019. Mark that one in your calendars, you don’t need to be a participant of the challenge to compete in that. And as I said, genuine national championship status is attached to it, we have a commissaire from Mountain Biking Australia comes over, he assesses and adjudicates on our behalf and then awards those championship medals and the jerseys. Come over to Broome..   

FELICITY:

Great.

SIMON:

.. and compete for a gold jersey.

FELICITY:

Great and what dates have you set for the Gibb River Challenge?

SIMON:

Well it follows on, given that’s the prologue stage we’re going to kick off on the 19th of May next year through to the 24th. So, Sunday through to Thursday, then a day of rest and exploration in El Questro and then we can push back into Kununurra. Now there is a small footnote to that and without giving too much away, I don’t think we’re going to be aligned to the Kimberley Moon Experience this year. Unfortunately, the dates may have some conflicts there with tidal movements in Broome and stuff so, if you join us for the Gibb Challenge it may be that we miss out on the Kimberley Moon Experience this year.

FELICITY:

Right. And what do people need to do to qualify because I know that you have a limited entrance, like you have a cap so people have to apply, don’t they? So, what do they need to do to register their interest there?

SIMON:

Probably the best way is to subscribe to our newsletters in the first instance and then we do a nomination process that kicks off on the 31st of October this year. So, keep an eye out for that, usually a two-week period to receive those expressions of interest and paint the colour in your application. Let us know how great a team you are and what you’ll bring to the event and then we choose our teams based on a ballot system and some other parameters as well to make sure that we get a good blend of old and new and some great vibrancy within the event, as well. Nominations open on the 31st October and we should have our decision within a couple of weeks of that.

FELICITY:

Fantastic and people can find that on the website called www.thegibbchallenge.com.au which we’ll have in our show notes as well. And they can submit their application and you’re also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thegibbchallenge and..

SIMON:

That’s right.

FELICITY:

..Twitter @gibbchallenge so people can see you on those various social media platforms.

Are there any other stories that you’d like to share with us, Simon, before we wrap up?

SIMON:

Oh gosh, there as so many and honestly I would love to share many, many more of them but I think it would be great if your readers were to get online, have a look at us, throw an application forward, then they don’t have to share any of those stories they can actually be part of our story and our fabric for the Gibb Challenge in years come forward. Come and join us, it really is a great life to finding adventure.

FELICITY:

Absolutely. I’ve looked at the photos and I can absolutely say that it’s inspired me and I’d love to participate, so it’s definitely got me thinking. I’d like to thank you for joining us today and hopefully I will see you in the Outback one year. I’d have to see who I can have as part of my team.  

SIMON:

Open invitation, Felicity, you’ll always be welcome. Thank you very much.

FELICITY:

Thank you, Simon. Great to speak with you.

SIMON:

You too mate, good day.

FELICITY:

Bye, bye,

Thanks for listening to the All Torque podcast. We'd love it if you would leave us a rating and review on iTunes. This helps us to deliver content you want to hear about. Please take a moment to share it with your friends and family on Instagram and Facebook. I'm Felicity Dales, see you next episode for another story of inspiration and motivation on the All Torque podcast.

 

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