As part of a series of profiles shining the light on the unsung heroes of cycling – the volunteers - Pedal Power spoke to Audi Miniotas, who co-ordinated Pedal Power's Lake Burley Griffin 50th anniversary bike ride.
The event – comprising an historic-based ‘clue hunt’ bike ride around the Lake along with face-painting, circus skills and other family activities – saw about 120 people participating; which he considers was good, given the only time possible for the event was between 5pm and 7pm on a Friday.
Audi (pictured, centre, after his own face-painting session!), believes that, with enthusiastic participation by children and adults alike, the ride has demonstrated the possibility of future family events particularly if held on a weekend.
"From my point of view it would be nice to do something like this once a year as a family day. It is a good promotion for Pedal Power."
Several months ago he saw an email from Pedal Power seeking volunteers to help with the Lake Burley Griffin 50th anniversary bike ride. Wanting to understand better how cycle events were put together, he volunteered, then waited during a hiatus when it was not clear whether the event would occur. The decision to definitely proceed was made about four weeks before the Lake's anniversary, and Audi was asked if he would co-ordinate the bike ride within a tight timescale.
Pedal Power Executive Officer John Armstrong said, "Audi did a fantastic job of keeping us on task and taking this on with no real experience prior to the event."
Audi admits to attending numerous meetings, particularly during the final week of preparation, but is almost dismissive of his considerable effort. "I didn't think it was overly burdensome."
He acknowledges help by several ACT Heritage staff, in particular Linda Roberts, and volunteers who provided historical information to the riders, and invaluable help by other Pedal Power volunteers. In particular, Clem Tozer, who transported equipment such as tents, public address and water, as well as Mark Crawford who delivered and removed about 500 bike racks.
"It was impressive to see those couple of volunteers because that is not trivial work. ... We had those key volunteers who made it all come together."
Audi's coordination of the event was despite knee surgery in June, although his recovery is going well with at least three rides each week.
"I am comfortable now with my recovery that I can start planning events for next year."
Born in Canberra, Audi's Lithuanian background saw him with a long Christian name which gave way to the much shorter nickname of Audi which was given to him at school and which remains. He says his real name is known only to his mother, the tax man and his girlfriend.
"Everyone knows me as Audi."
His life changed significantly about four years ago when his wife was diagnosed with cancer.
"I stopped work to help her through a difficult time. She passed away about 18 months ago."
He had a career in the information technology industry and worked for several years at Customs and Border Protection as an independent information technology project manager. After his wife's death his cousin invited Audi to participate in last year's Great Victorian Bike Ride. Most of the 630km ride was along the Great Ocean Road, beginning in Mount Gambia and ending in Geelong.
"It was awesome."
During his training for the ride he became aware of Pedal Power and joined a mid-week ride.
"Over those months I built up my fitness and I was ready for the Great Vic."
Despite that he found the ride very difficult, not least because of the other about 5000 riders.
"With so many riders you are actually concentrating on what is happening around you. ... So it is definitely not as leisurely as the Wednesday Kaleen ride."
To appreciate the magnificent scenery required stopping for a good look around. To anyone considering a ride of this type he says, "The training was a must!"
Anyone wishing to volunteer for Pedal Power can call us on 02 6248 7995 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.