Leon Riordan is a veteran and came along to a social ride for veterans put on by mountain biking club the Darwin Off-Road Cyclists (DORC) in July.
He’s since become totally hooked.
“Anyone can have a go at mountain biking,” says Leon. “My mental capacity changes when I ride. I absolutely love it. To have something, a community, outside of work is fantastic.”
Now a club member, Leon has been regularly coming along to DORC’s social rides. He’s also gone on to race, is hoping that he can one day become an instructor and has been bringing his young son Abel along for the ride.
“I think it’s great to involve family in sport. We all love riding.”
A thriving community
A thriving club and community with over 200 members, DORC takes the view that there’s always room for more. Formed in 2006 by an enthusiastic group of local mountain bike riders, the club puts on group rides, races and training for everyone from beginners through to advanced riders.
It was a pleasure for Veteran Sport Australia to able to support DORC to put on social rides for veterans and their families in July and in October during Veterans’ Health Week 2020.
20 veterans and family members set off for the ride in October around the Old Pine Forest in Howard Springs. There was also a BBQ afterwards which gave people a chance to get to know each other and talk about some of the twists, turns, bumps and bends that were encountered during the ride.
Safe to say that everybody loved it.
A club for everyone
Jo and Geoff Fox are both volunteers with DORC and are also part of the local veteran community. They were instrumental in organising the veterans rides and in making them successful.
“Our ride during Veterans’ Health Week was a huge success,” says Jo, Vice President of DORC. “A few riders were new to the sport and it was a great chance to jump in. People are already asking about what they can do next and how they join the club.
“Mountain biking is a sport suitable for the whole family. It can assist veterans, their partners and children to reconnect with one another in an enjoyable and active way.”
Geoff’s a lead instructor with DORC and has experienced first-hand the benefits of being on a bike.
“I began riding mountain bikes 10 years ago and moved onto instructing others to ride safely and confidently,” says Geoff. “For me personally, I want to be able to share with other veterans the mental health aspects of being out on your bike. You can ride alone, with a mate or you can join a group or club ride and be as social as you want. A good club provides you with a social network, surrounded by people enjoying the same activities as you.”
Veteran Alicia Runde has been riding with DORC throughout 2020 and hasn’t looked back.
“I first fell in love mountain biking while I was living in Western Australia in 2013,” says Alicia.
“The first time I met Jo was at a beginner’s course. I got a relaxed vibe and wanted to be part of the club.
“Veterans rides are awesome and the BBQ afterwards is what makes DORC. Most things that DORC do have a social element. It’s a club first, mountain biking second.”
Alicia and a group of veteran friends – who also joined DORC – went on to form a group they call ‘the Deadly Treadly’s’. They join in with all club events and also tackle some of the other incredible tracks around Darwin.
Only one of the group’s members owned a bike to start with – but now they all do!
Looking to 2021
More and more opportunities are developing for the veteran community to connect and get involved in sport around Darwin.
A new Veterans’ Wellbeing Centre will be up and running soon, led by Mates4Mates, and we know there are fantastic sporting clubs around the city – including Satellite City BMX Club.
DORC plans to keep up social rides throughout the year, encouraging more and more veterans and their families to have a go and stick with the club if they have a good time.
Here’s betting they do.