Guest post: Help me do something epic!

On October 27, thousands of cyclists will embark on a two-day, 200km+ charity ride to raise funds for cancer research: the Ride to Conquer Cancer. The Donvale Demon will be there … assuming he can raise enough money to take part …

The ride mightn’t be terrible difficult (for the Demon), but it will be emotional.

UPDATE: I’ve just spoken with someone at Peter Mac about the fundraising target. Scroll to the bottom of the article for full details.

I’m being hassled by the Ride to Conquer Cancer people. Someone from Peter Mac phones me every other week, asking how my fundraising is going. ‘It’s going OK,’ I say. ‘It’s not bad’. Can they do anything for me? ‘No, I’ll be fine,’ I say. ‘Thanks for calling.’

I’ve raised $591 so far, and need to reach a total of $2,500 before the deadline on October 5 – nearly two grand. Gulp.

A couple of people have told me I won’t be allowed to take part in the event unless I raise the dough – and the ride website seems to back this up. That strikes me as unnecessarily punitive. What will happen to the money people have already donated if I don’t make it? Is a little cash not better than nothing?

I’m being pressured by the ride’s organisers in unsubtle ways. They want me to feel their pressure, and to act upon it, so that they can:

a) earn an honest wage
b) pump money into research that may or may not advance understanding and treatment for an illness that’s guaranteed to throw a shadow over most people’s lives.

The unrelenting – and unremittingly friendly – badgering from those Peter Mac callers is probably why I’m writing this now.

My fundraising effort to date has been modest.

I stopped letting Peter Mac post to my Facebook timeline on my behalf a couple of months ago because it felt like they were spamming my friends. And I haven’t acted on any of the emails from the organisation – like the one below – for much the same reason:


Are you ready for The Ride? It’ll be here before you know it! Now is the time to kick your fundraising into high gear. Be sure to ask all potential donors for contributions. We’ve made it easy to ask, just forward them our template email below.

Here’s how it works:

1. Click FORWARD

2. In the subject line type “Help me do something epic!”

3. Delete everything above the ********** line

4. Enter in the email addresses of your friends and family in the TO: field.

5. Press SEND!

************Delete this line and everything above it!************

I’m doing something big about cancer, something epic. I’m cycling for two days in the inaugural Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. AND I’m so committed to the cause that I’m fundraising at least $2,500! That’s why I am asking you for a donation to my fundraising account. Your contribution will play a role in the quest to conquer cancer.

Please visit my personal page and donate today:

Thank you in advance for your generosity!


I’d feel a bit weird sending that message to people I know – but, hey, it could be the cash cow I need.

Of course I have personal reasons for doing a ride to support cancer research. Most people, I’m sure, have charities picked for them by circumstance. I’ve yet to meet anyone with Escher Hirt syndrome but if I had, or if I’d been born with it, that would no doubt be my charity cause of choice.

I don’t expect the ride on October 27 and 28 to be physically demanding. I’ll be riding 200km over two days ‘out of majestic Melbourne as the urban landscape gradually gives way to the rolling hills and vineyard views of the world-class wine region of Yarra Valley’. I’d be surprised if we leave the city at race pace. I predict both days will be far easier on my legs than the training rides I do with friends most weekends.

But I do expect it to be emotional. I imagine I’ll see and meet people who are going through all kinds of suffering, and not just on their bikes. I hope to talk to some of them, to ride beside them, to hear what they have to say. And even to act as their domestique if they’re finding the going difficult.

For that to happen, from what I understand, you need to donate whatever money you can spare to my personal fundraising page right away.


This post first appeared at Innocent in Australia, the Donvale Demon’s mostly cycling-unrelated blog.

October 1 update:

So, I’m just off the phone with a guy from Peter Mac. Turns out the minimum I can raise and be ‘allowed’ to do the ride this month is $2,500. At present I’m sitting at $1,000 (which I’m pretty happy with) and the deadline’s later this week.

I asked the guy whether people who have sponsored me so far would get their money back if I didn’t do the ride, given I’d be forfeiting the challenge; and, no, they won’t be – technically they have ‘donated’ rather than ‘sponsored’, which is a clear distinction.

The guy said they’d be able to grant an extension on my deadline until post-ride, meaning I’d have until December to raise the dough. But this would involve me giving Peter Mac my credit card details and giving them permission to make up  the difference – currently $1,500 – if I fall short of the target.

He asked me to email everyone I know three times this week to ask for money, which I’m not prepared to do – I reckon there are loads of good causes and loads of people doing things to raise money for them; I don’t want to hassle people beyond the emails, blogs and tweets I’ve written already.

In short, donate if you want – regardless of the tactics, cancer research is as important as ever, and something I’m still happy to donate to – but there’s a growing likelihood I won’t be doing the ride. Frankly, I can’t afford $1,500 or anywhere near it.

To those of you who have donated money, thanks a million: I’ve been a bit blown away by your kindness and generosity.

Apologies if you believed – as no doubt thousands of people do – your donation was contingent on someone actually doing something. On the plus side, it’s going to a good cause, even if the strategy used by the company on this occasion is, at best, disingenuous.

11 Replies to “Guest post: Help me do something epic!”

  1. I was put off by the $2,500 minimum.

    I ride 3 or 4 charity rides a year and the most I’ve ever raised is $1,000 normally only raise around $500 plus my registration.

    I understand that these rides cost money to put together but it surely doesn’t cost thousands for a relatively small ride.

    I’d rather they raised the registration fees to cover the cost of the ride and removed the minimum donations. I’d be pretty disappointed if I raised another thousand dollars and wasn’t allowed to participate.

    This sort of smells more like a company than a charity.

    I’ll sadly keep to the other rides I do MS Cycle, Cairns to Kurumba, Hume Cycle challenge etc.

  2. My Wife has signed up this year for the event. Very excited. What I cannot believe though is the amount of people that so quickly forget that this ride about raising money for a charity. A darn good one at that. Nearly everyone is going to be affected by the curse of cancer at some stage in there life with 1 in 3 people being affected. You or the people you know cannot escape those odds.
    These rides actually cost money to run. It roughly takes $500 per person to cover the logistics of the events, i.e feeding, snacks, drinks, vehicle management, portable toilets and tents, insurance and the list goes on and on. There is a physical limit to the amount of riders that can participate. They cannot allow 50,000 riders to clog the streets to the peninsula. It therefore makes sense that for those to ride it means a significant effort for fundraising. This might mean doing trivia nights, raffles and all those sort of things. It is not supposed to be about the rider having a chance to have a nice ride. If you want a ride or a harder ride, go out and do it yourself. However if you want to take part in something truly epic, then do something significant for the charity.
    Well if you don’t raise the benchmark then it shouldn’t have to be a major let down because after all it is more about the charity than the person! How could you be upset that the money would go to the charity still? If you want sympathy from me you are not finding it here.

    1. Samuel, I wish your wife good luck both with the ride and more so with raising the donations.

      I did the inaugural ride and woved not to do it again. There are lots of charity rides around but R2CC is run differently.

      Perhaps you/she will understand how pesky the R2CC callers can be.

      No one is saying it is not a good cause. But IMHO the style they run it, is more suited to the Northern America folks.

  3. Completely agree with you mate. I used to work at Peter Mac and have a few former colleagues riding on the days. I was keen to participate as well but just could not believe I had to raise 2.5k to ride. These days everyone is asking for money and I simply don’t feel comfortable hitting up people for cash. And this is not a trivial amount of cash you are asking for! 10 mates giving 25 clams is only $250! My mates at Peter Mac have organized teams so they are able to raise cash at trivia nights, sausage sizzles etc and then divide the takings.
    You can guarantee the people have they brought in to run the event are taking a good portion of the cash!
    Good luck mate. I would like to donate but have already given cash to 2 lots of mates.

  4. Hartley has a yearly charity ride that goes from Canberra to Charlottes Pass. It’s a similar thing where you need to raise minimum of several thousand dollars (don’t know exact figure) before you can participate. I share your views exactly and regard it as “chugging”.

    I couldn’t ask family, friends and work collegues for money to do something that I do for free 6 days a week because I love doing it (OK, I don’t ride up CP every day but I have done it several times before and it’s not really a “challenge”).

    Have you thought about having a fund-raising BBQ at your local shopping centre on a weekend? Every weekend the local hardware shop down the road from me has a different charity/community group selling steak and sausage sandwiches and soft drinks out the front. I think they have a roster type system in place though, so it’s say Hartley this week and Peter Mac the following week and someone different again the next week.

    Hope you make your target and enjoy the ride.

  5. I was interested in this ride until I saw the minimum fund raising clause, it just made me feel uncomfortable that would be exclude people based on their ability to raise a certain figure. This may penalise people from lower socio-economic areas where it may be impossible to reach the $2500 limit.

    The minimum casts a dark shadow over this event and almost feels like they are pimping entrants out to raise money.

    1. I had similar concerns. I saw the first ad for the event probably back in Feb and didn’t register till April. I thought it was odd but I liked the $50 registration fee for a two day event! 🙂 The largest I had ever raised was around $700.

      But as a cyclist, I couldn’t resit yet another challenge to triple my past efforts. So I signed up in late April and didn’t let go until I hit the limit, just before EOFY 😉 Strategically timed, I might add. Yep, people seem to be more charitable that item of the year.

      I got overwhelming support from all corners. Colleagues I hadn’t see in many year donated many hundreds of dollars. All I had have to do was just ask. You can hardly find anyone who hasn’t been touched by cancer and don’t know if someone who has benefited from Peter Mac’s services in Melbourne.

      Well, I just checked Paul’s progress and in just a few hours he has almost doubled his previous efforts. All he had to do was ask. Remember you are not asking for yourself. It is to save lives.

  6. So your personal reason was the reason in your early article about 3 peaks challenage: ‘It was an emotional day for me, for reasons unconnected to the ride, and reasons I won’t trouble you with here.’ Both articles – the 3 peak challenge and your mum’s made my eyes tearing in totally different way. I myselft had been through very emotional experience of fighting every single stages for my 2 years old (then) son’s brain tumor, we are lucky he is a happy health 7 years old boy now, but not everyone is luck as us. I would love to join the ride, but can’t afford the time away from 2 kids for 2 days, so I guess this is the way to show my support for a rider like you, not much but I hope the heart count. I personally think they shouln’t put a minimum bench mark for event like this, every dollar should be counted. Good luck with your fund raising, I do hope you are able to ride, and enjoy the 2 days journey.

    1. Heidi, thanks for this! That must have been such a challenging time with your son; I can’t begin to imagine. So glad to read he’s doing well now. Cheers!

  7. Paul,

    I’ve just donated. It is for a good cause. I am a rider as well. I know how you feel.

    But a couple of remakes, if I may…

    I have managed to just get to the $2,500 limit and I still get a call every two weeks.

    The callers are not from Peter Mac. They are just volunteers working for RTCC charity organisation.

    Yes, it is true. You need to reach the limit or be close to it to be allowed to ride. Though no one seems to tell what the limit is. In one of the orientation sessions I attended, I was told if you are a few hundred dollars short you may be given a few weeks post ride to “allow for all postal” donation to come in! 😉

    Good luck and hope to see you there.

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