I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the founders of the Tour de Cure, Geoff Coombes, over the phone this week. The Tour de Cure is a cycling challenge that raises money for cancer research and experiments and Geoff is one of the main reasons this is all possible. For more information on the Tour de Cure visit: www.tourdecure.com.au
Ellie: How and when did the Tour de Cure start?
Geoff: I rode across America when I was 26 and thought then it would be great to see Australia by bike and help a cause. I used to do one big thing a year (Shave Your Head, Big Walks, Grow a Mo, etc.) and felt it was time to create something. Gary, Sam (co-founders) and I met up for coffee (after a ride) and we were like ‘right, let’s do this!’ Three good mates just wanting to give back!
ES: During the ride how did you keep motivated?
GC: Motivation is really easy when you’re out there, especially when you’re riding for a cause like cancer. Originally we started the tour without knowing that cancer was our chosen cause. We did some research into what we could do that would hopefully make an impact and cancer jumped out needing help. 1 in 2 men and women will be affected, which is pretty scary, especially as a Dad. We try to make a positive impact and year on year more people that we meet and those who are close to us are affected by cancer. Now it’s personal – very much with a cause close to our hearts, to me it was quite pure. I just wanted to get involved with something that could give back and engage people through cycling. Hopefully we can raise a lot of money to help find a cure.
ES: If you could do last year’s race again would you do anything differently?
GC: Each year there’s always learning and I think that’s important – we continue to grow and try to make every Tour as meaningful, impactful and rewarding on so many levels. I don’t know that I would change any of the routes that we’ve done as we go somewhere different each year. In the 6 years the Tour has been going we have ridden the East-Coast of Australia twice, so we’ve retraced our steps a few times, but in a lot of cases we’ve gone somewhere new and this year we’re actually going somewhere new again! Adelaide to Canberra…….3 states and a territory….I can’t wait.
ES: What were you feeling when you crossed the finish line?
GC: It’s not a race and quite often people mistake it for that – we’re a team of 85 (60 riders and 25 support crew) on the big tour and I think that sense of accomplishment, we’ve all fundraised really well leading up to it and that physical output, not to mention the emotional output that we undertake throughout the whole journey when you’re on tour. I think the feeling of crossing the finish line is tempered with all the highs and lows of going out there for a cause, the 6 or 7 months of training and preparation and to then finally cross the finish line and hug your mates and your family that are there to see you. It’s an amazing sense of accomplishment.
ES: What do you think about American cyclist and seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong confessing to performance-enhancing drug use?
GC: I think it’s good that he’s going to admit to the evidence, although I think it’s a real shame for his foundation and for the sport. I feel very disappointed because I obviously put him in such high regards, but the sport will come out the other side as the sport is much bigger than Lance. I think it was the right thing for him to do because the damage has already been done. The evidence is so compelling and after reading a few books, it was a mere matter of time before it was all going to come out. He was committed to his version of the truth and now I think the real truth has come out. If you look at what Lance did for cycling and for cancer fundraising, with those things alone he had a phenomenal impact.