IN the seven years Carole and I have been riding and socialising with the Sunshine Coast branch, we've only missed one "Ulympics", hosted by the Redcliffe branch.
Up until two Ulympics ago, they were always organised by their very capable president, Russell Wheeler with the help of Herb Heeschen. However, when Russell's wife Kieran came off her bike and suffered horrific injuries, he handed the reins to Herb Heeschen, who has also proven very capable in the role.
Last year and this year the venue was the Blackbutt showground, which is an excellent venue and is only about 150 kms NW of the Sunshine Coast.
There's an enormous oval; a big undercover area with lots of tables and chairs; clean toilet and shower facilities; free tea and coffee all day long; BBQ facilities; containers and wood for camp fires at night; heaps of parking for bikes, cars, campervans and caravans and tents - and even cheap powered sites!
For example, she told me about CareFlight – it is thanks to them that Kieran is still with us today.
Saturday brings a lot of day trippers, but most members arrive on Friday; set up camp and sit around in the evening chatting, having drinks and enjoying the freshly barbecued sausages ($2 pp for all you could eat this year!) Members meet new members and get reacquainted with old friends.
I didn't have Herb's number when writing this, so I rang Sandra Carroll, secretary of the Redcliffe branch (who unfortunately couldn't make it this year) and got some of the following information from her. For example, she told me about CareFlight – it is thanks to them that Kieran is still with us today.
From Google: "CareFlight is dedicated to providing the highest standard of rapid response critical care to the ill and injured. Our specially trained doctors and nurses use helicopters, aeroplanes, medi-jets and road ambulances to bring a hospital level of care to our patients."
A cheque for $1000 raised from the event this year was presented to CareFlight.
It was great to see Kieran and Russell rock up on Saturday on a fantastic looking long, shiny blue trike, and to also take out the gold medals for the discus throwing game with Kieran on crutches!
Money is raised by members paying a small sum for entry to the rally, which includes a rally badge plus the usual raffle and an auction of goods supplied by various people and businesses Redcliffe members have approached for donations.
And fines! (people fined for cheating or anything, however trivial, that Herb could think of - and he carried his wooden 'fine box' around with him a lot. But its all in good humour, and no ill feelings.
The raffle is always a big highlight on Saturday night, with great prizes. Towards the end of the day most members sit around in circles around campfires, but I was with a group that went to the local pub, where they put on a special meal for us: nice tender steak and veg. and dessert for just $15!
The four most represented branches were Redcliffe (of course!), Lockyer, Glasshouse and Sunshine Coast. Smaller numbers also attended from other branches. Redlands branch members were conspicuous by their absence, probably due to "River Fire" fireworks displays on in Brisbane.
The games themselves include:
*Stone The Gnomes (knock them over with tennis balls from a distance).
*Last man (couple) standing with intact water-filled balloon. Pairs throw the balloons to each other ever increasing distances until only one (dry) couple is left with an intact balloon. Not mentioning any names, but some people grab and pocket a spare balloon or 2 when nobody's looking, not that it necessarily helps them. And if they leak in your pocket, you look like you've wet yourself. But cheating is all part of the fun. If caught, you're fined on the spot.
I think it's often the branch that cheats the best that wins.
*Tyre tossing. Just about everyone takes part in this, so there's lots of tossers! And cheating at this is not possible.
I have a suspicion Sunshine Coast might have been declared winners this year partly because we've only won once before,
The Sunny Coast branch won the Rowing (aka Drinking) competition Gold Medal (our president was very proud!)
Five in each team have to sit down as though in a boat, and 'row' i.e. move backward and forward with a full paper cup of beer in one hand. The cheaters (most of us) who start drinking before the whistle goes get their cups refilled - this can happen several times, especially on a hot day.
At the start, the first rower has to drink his/her beer and then put the cup on his/her head upside-down which is the signal for the next rower to start.
The last rower has to jump up when finished his beer and run down to the finish line. This game can be quite hilarious, I've seen a lady get it wrong and fling the beer over her head, giving the team member behind her a sticky shower...
*A newly introduced game, the name of which escapes me, but I'll try and explain it: there are twp vertical plastic poles about a metre high, which support three horizontal poles about 60 cm long and 30 cm apart. You fling a cord with a weight on each end at it from 10-15 metres away. If it wraps itself around the top pole you get three points, two for the middle and one for the bottom.
I have a suspicion Sunshine Coast might have been declared winners this year partly because we've only won once before, but have won the 'Wooden Spoon' a record three times, and we actually didn't do too badly this time! Perhaps Herb and Co. were also being generous because they always outnumber us?
All Ulysseans are welcome, so why not rock up one of these years? We'd love to see you.
Uwe Sinn # 5041