The Call Of The Beast

I’m very excited to announce that the crew from BEAST-WORX, the organisers of the Battle Of The Beasts, have invited me to compete in their next venture: THE CALL OF THE BEAST.

BEAST-WORX are unbelievable supporters of SOLDIER ON & all Australian veterans, which is why they run their adventure races.  They have partnered with SOLDIER ON to bring you the best mountain biking/obstacle course/adventure races in Australia to raise money and awareness for SOLDIER ON.

The CALL OF THE BEAST is an obstacle course like no other.  It is not for shirtless posers taking selfies covered in mud at the end of leisurely stroll with 4’000 other wannabes!  This is an event that will test you physically, mentally and make you earn crossing that finish line!!

I’m extremely proud to announce that not only am I competing in the Battle Of The Beasts mountain bike festival in October I will be competing in the Call Of The Beast on November 30; racing for and raising money for SOLDIER ON!

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PLEASE SUPPORT THOSE THAT SUPPORT YOU

.:MY DONATION PAGE:.

New Posters For My Fundraising!

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Riding For Soldier On – Doing My Part For Australia’s Wounded Warriors

Riding For Soldier On
Doing My Part For Australia’s Wounded Warriors

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To increase my social media profile I made a Facebook Page for my fundraising for Soldier On

Battle Of The Beasts 2012 – In Review

As I crossed the finished line next to my riding buddy Argonut, it felt like a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was a shell of the person who started the gruelling ride a little over 7 hours before. I was exhausted, physically, emotionally and mentally. Like many of the 119 riders that began that morning, I too had under-estimated the Namadgi National Park course.

In mid September I ran into an old friend at work and took some time out for a quick catch up over a coffee. I mentioned in a few weeks I was riding the Kowalski Classic and he told me about a charity called Soldier On that was teamed up with an upcoming mountain bike race… The seed had been planted in my head.

I had left the full-time Army earlier in the year and had begun actively supporting and advocating the rights of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in conjunction with my late Grandfather’s RSL and Legacy. In front of me were two things I had a vested interest in; mountain biking and veteran’s affairs.

I looked up Soldier On and the Beast-Worx Battle Of The Beasts and signed up not only to ride in the event but to raise money for Soldier On. It’s a sad fact that the Australian Government and Australian Defence Force does not do nearly enough for wounded returned servicemen, servicewomen and their families. The ADF has an appalling record for dealing with mental health issues and it’s often left to outside support agencies to seek and provide the help that they so desperately need. And this is exactly what Soldier On aims and succeeds at doing.

So I set out with two things in mind, raise a heap of money for Soldier On and train for this Beast of a ride on Saturday 24 November 2012.

I drove out to Caloola Farm at Namadgi National Park early in morning. I registered for the race, affixed the race plate to my trusty steed and prepared for the race. The event centre was well set up and the riders were getting excited. A comprehensive race brief was delivered and we rolled down to the start line. The inaugural Beast, Jeremy Ross, rolled off the ‘black carpet’ and the race was on. Five minutes later the chasing pack followed and a few minutes after, the remainder of the solo riders started. Argonut and I stayed together pacing ourselves early, after a few kilometres and a few creek crossings the pack started to spread out and groups of evenly matched riders started forming across the track. Everyone on the track was in a good mood; everyone was friendly and even though the morning was rapidly heating up the atmosphere of the event was very fun.

And then came the start of the climbs. I won’t lie; I seriously did not think this course would be as hard as it was. Yes it was almost completely comprised of fire trail, but some of them were so steep and deeply rutted I would have avoided them in a 4X4. We were only approximately 16km in with very wet feet when the sporadic hills were actually faster to walk and push the bike than it was to ride them. “Energy conservation” I kept telling myself as I would un-clip my shoes from my pedals get off the bike and begin the shuffle up another hill.

Argonut and I kept a good rhythm and pace but the climbs, the creek crossings and the increasing heat were beginning to take their toll on most riders. A hill that would normally be tackled with bit of extra effort and some heavy breathing was replaced by a single file of riders walking. My cramps began around the 25km mark, my calves as always, and they were quickly followed by cramps in my quads and triceps. I was hurting but with just under 50km to go I knew I had to push on.

We saw riders starting to fall back and slow right down, we pushed on as best we could but more and more hills stopped being ridden and started being walked. Solo riders and teams were helping each other, although we were all hurting the aim was the same; to finish this race.

At the 33km checkpoint we stopped for some food and refill the water. My other half was there and passed on some words of encouragement. Other volunteers muttered words about the course being “all downhill” from here. Now let’s get one thing straight; it was not downhill, yes there were some downhill sections but after spending the last couple of hours steadily climbing almost 900m I was in no mood to climb anymore.

We pushed on and some things were said about life, mountain bikes and the race. There was a little bit of swearing as we weaved through the next half of the course, relishing the tiny downhill sections and hating the ever present short but steep climbs. I kept telling myself I had been through worse than this, and yes it was very true, but I was younger, a hell of lot more fitter and too be honest in that moment I would rather have been back patrolling in Afghanistan in 40degrees than riding that track. I was starting to make “woo” sounds whenever something annoyed me… There’s another hill “woo”, kangaroos “woo”, I just fell over “woo”. Maybe it was the heat, but to be honest, I was starting to realise like most other riders, we did in fact underestimate the challenge of this race.

But we pushed on and it strangely became easier, I was tired, hurting, but I felt strangely okay. I wasn’t going to let this course beat me. We passed the checkpoint of 58km and met the asphalt. As soon as I saw the hill my legs cramped in response. I rode a little bit of it, but like everyone else around, I too succumbed to the ‘easier’ option of walking my bike. It didn’t seem to end, but eventually it did and there was another checkpoint. Argonut was waiting for me, chatting to the volunteers; if he was hurting he was really good at hiding it. We pushed on and were met with a very tricky and fast downhill section of loose rocks and potential death. And then it appeared. I’m not sure if the Beast-Worx guys named that particular hill, but I sure came up with a few that aren’t fit for publication. For a family friendly named I’ve settled on is “Death Legs”.

I didn’t even attempt to ride any of it. It was heartbreaking, it was demoralising and it was right in front of me taunting me to get to the top. I started walking, and then I would stop and catch my breath and walk some more. I cramped in every muscle in my legs and lower back. Surely this hill would end soon; but step after step I couldn’t see the end. Argonut was in front pushing on, saying words of encouragement to me, they were helping, but my stints of walking became shorter and my stints of rest became longer. Finally we got to the top and we rested for a few minutes, I felt nauseous and was exhausted but I knew we still had 10km to go, and thinking back to the course profile I knew it was in fact almost all downhill from here.

We began the last section of the track to the finish line. Argonut pushed forward in front of me, the steep downhills burned the arms and I’m sure the brakes were glowing red. There were a few short climbs but most of it I was able to roll up with my momentum from the downhills; 29ers just keep rolling I said to myself in my head.

I cramped up around 3km from the end and stopped to stretch. Then we pushed on to the finish. We came down a screaming downhill, across a little creek and could see the farmhouse. Argonut called me up so we could cross the finish line together and suddenly I felt no pain, the legs were fresh and we sprinted to the finish. And after a little over 7 hours the inaugural Battle Of The Beasts was over for me.

I was exhausted and found a nice spot in the shade and lay down. I was spent, I was happy, but there was not a lot left in the tank, so trying my hardest not to throw up seemed like a good idea. Other riders finished and I went and had a cheeky spew and instantly felt a lot better. Around 16:30 the presentations began. Jeremy Ross won the race in an incredible 3 hours and 12 minutes. Awards were given, but most of the recipients had long departed for various and some incredibly more important reasons. I was called out to the front and given a gift voucher for raising $5’637 for Soldier On. Goodbyes were said and we were on our way home for pizza and a goodnights rest. It was a very well run event, made possible by volunteers and the incredible Beast-Worx team.

This morning I woke up feeling a little sore, but surprisingly able to walk with ease, unlike after the Kowalski Classic when I was unable to negotiate stairs for almost a week. I have cleaned the bike, washed the clothes and sorted the photos.

And that ladies and gentlemen was the 2012 Battle Of The Beasts for this rider.

Battle Of The Beasts – Update #3

Well it’s been a big week for my fundraising. After a disappointing few weeks with trying to get more exposure for the upcoming ride I had some promising leads with securing some local media interviews for radio (thank you Jeff C!) and a couple of Canberra’s newspapers.

The donations have been steady, but the Facebook ‘sharing’ and Twitter ‘retweets’ have been very active; which helps raise awareness for Soldier On. I even managed to set up a Facebook Page: Riding For Soldier On – Doing My Part For Australia’s Wounded Warriors to help keep my Facebook friends and Twitter followers up to date.

From a training perspective I’ve spent a fair bit of time on the bike and should top 200km by the end of the week. I’m not quite 100% with my pec and shoulder but from a fitness and endurance perspective I am pretty close to being at my pre-injury standard. And most importantly, after a taking a pretty big confidence hit courtesy of an overzealous Government Department; I’m feeling better and determined to work just as hard and keep rocking the apple cart.

During the week I had an article about my fundraising published in the Australian Army News. This is great for exposure within the ADF and Australian Army in particular and will hopefully be noticed by some of the Senior Ranks. Maybe they will start to realise that a handful of dedicated individuals (mostly ex-Soldiers living with PTSD) do more work for Veterans Support Services and PTSD education than they do sitting in their ivory towers dismissing mental health issues among the ‘enlisted men’ </END RANT>.

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$1’815 has been raised so far and with three months to go there is plenty of time to better last years amount.

PLEASE GO HERE TO DONATE: http://beast-worx.gofundraise.com.au/page/chaddobbsBOTB13

Riding For Soldier On – Australian Army News

A short article about my fundraising for Soldier On for this year’s upcoming Battle Of The Beasts Mountain Bike Enduro has been published in the 18 July 2013 issue of the Australian Army News.

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Army News Article PDF Version

18 July 2013 Army News Edition 1309 PDF Version

Battle Of The Beasts – Update #2

It seems my updates are now a tri-weekly occurrence.   So three weeks after the inaugural Battle Of The Beasts Update.  I present to you Update #2.

The fundraising for Soldier On and raising awareness for veterans support services has been going quite well after a few hiccups.  I’ll be the first to admit I was a bit naive with my requests for industry and business support.  I had approached several Defence related companies and numerous local Canberra businesses for support and sponsorship. Because I believe in this cause so much and understand the good it does for so many I was incredibly dejected at the amount of rejections I was receiving.

Out of the sixteen requests I submitted I have received eleven rejections and five no replies.  I find it incredibly difficult to understand how a business which makes hundreds of millions of dollars from Defence contracts cannot donate money to charity.  I understand that I am one fundraiser, a very small cog in a very large machine, however some of these companies DO NOT DONATE ANY MONEY TO THE DEFENCE COMMUNITY.  OK rant over and I’ll move on!

I’m still hopeful of hearing back from some of the local Canberra businesses and have been given some advice from friends that have done this sort of thing before.  Social media is really helping especially friends sharing on Facebook and retweets on Twitter.  There are a lot of people out there that support our wounded veterans.

To date $1’665 has been raised thanks to some very generous friends.  I need to thank Craig Passante for his massive $500 donation.  Craig has been very supportive of my fundraising this year and last year and continues to be a very strong role model for young veterans like ourselves.

So with a little over three months to go before The Battle Of The Beasts, I’ve got a fair bit of work to do to reach my goal of $6’000.  I’ve got a few media stories and interviews in the works for newspapers, MTB magazines and hopefully TV & radio if things go to plan.

Some keen eyed readers would have noticed I’ve started a training regime working up to the BOTB in October.  Last year I rode the event not knowing what was ahead of me and to be honest I was overwhelmed physically and mentally by the enormity of the ride.  Since last years race I’ve been able to complete a couple of big endurance races with relative ease.

Through trial and error I have worked out with the right nutrition and hydration plan I am quite capable over long distances on the bike.  This year I aim to be fitter and better prepared for the challenges I will face during the climb-heavy race.  While I will never win a race of this magnitude I want to race against myself.  I have a few on course goals I want to achieve and a few people I really want to leave in my wake.

So I am juggling not only my home life, upcoming Wedding, work, fundraising and veteran’s advocacy; I am slowly working my body into what I need it to be to tackle the Namadgi ranges for a second time.  I will need to be better at endurance climbing and able to focus my mind on the ride and not on the pain and kilometres remaining in front of me.

So before the Battle Of The Beasts I have a few CORC XC races, countless commutes and training rides; and a couple of 3hr XC races to keep me honest.  And as always I will be proudly wearing not only my Soldier On jersey but also my team kit displaying my beloved The Berm name and logo.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me on and off the bike.  I’ve had a few big set backs with the fundraising and would like to acknowledge a couple of people that have been a huge help: Carly, Scotty, Nat P, Dylan H, Mel C, Argo, Ben H, Nigel J, Roger H and Pete A.  These are the people that have given me invaluable advice and kept me focused on the big picture.  Thank you!

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Rocking my Soldier On jersey at Round 3 of the CORC XC Series

Battle Of The Beasts – Update #1

Well I’ve been a little slack in keeping everyone up to date with my fundraising and training for the Battle Of The Beasts in October.

However, I haven’t been slack in my fundraising and other efforts in raising awareness for Veteran’s Support Services.  I have contacted numerous local businesses requesting support and sponsorship for my fundraising and have had a few promising leads and some disappointing rejections.

Being an ex-Soldier and current Defence employee I contacted a few of the larger companies that are contracted to provide services to the Department of Defence.  My thinking was that these companies would be willing to spare a few dollars from the hundreds of millions Defence pays them to support an ex-serviceman raise some money for wounded Veterans and their families.

Well, shit! How wrong was I!  I won’t name and shame them (yet!) but I received a couple of abrupt rejections and one very sarcastic and disrespectful reply to my very reasonable request for support.  I took it with a grain of salt and contacted the respondent’s supervisor; but I was extremely disappointed with the attitude shown considering their supposed support of Defence members.

Anyway… Thanks to a small number of family and friends donating at this early stage we have reached $605 raised for Soldier On.  I’m extremely happy about this and very thankful; and with a few months to go I’m confident we will surpass last years total.

I’ve been riding a fair bit lately and gaining fitness quite quickly.  I’ve competed in two rounds of the 2013 CORC XC Series and have been riding my road bike around Canberra and to and from work.  As usual I’ve been riding with The Berm crew on a regular basis and that keeps my spirits high and head level.  There’s nothing quite like being encouraged, bagged out and enjoying a coffee and breakfast with people that love bikes as much as I do.

The Girly has been very supportive as always and understands that I will randomly go for a 3 hour ride when it’s freezing cold outside. She understands I ride because I enjoy it and it’s my rehabilitation for PTSD and depression.

Round 2 XC SO Jersey

Soldier On Jerseys

Soldier On Jerseys

With the blessing and assistance of SOLDIER ON I went and procured a set of one-of-kind SOLDIER ON cycling jerseys to wear before and during this year’s The Battle Of The Beasts.  These great jerseys were made by local Canberra business ON THE GO SPORTS.

At some point before the Battle Of The Beasts I will be holding a raffle for the opportunity to own one of these jerseys!

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