09 Sep 22 | By pp-admin | Events, Fitzs, Pedal Power
The alarm sounds at 4am.
That’s okay – John was awake anyway, because today’s the big day. Fitz’s Challenge day.
John Widdup is one of many volunteers who make this iconic cycling event possible. Each October, hundreds of riders gather at Stromlo Forest Park before embarking on one of Australia’s toughest hill climb cycling events. Riders have trained for months for their chosen route, with distances varying from 50 km to 255 km.
Behind the scenes, the preparations have been underway since autumn. A core group of volunteers have managed the event for many years, with scores of additional helpers called in as preparations ramp up over winter and into spring.
For John, volunteering on the Fitz’s committee is a labour of love, a commitment to making sure the Fitz’s Challenge is available to new and returning riders every year. From route planning to traffic management, registration to rider lunches, John and his volunteers coordinate it all.
In years past, John was a regular rider in the Fitz’s Challenge, when it was a single 150 km event. While he still rides long distances (having recently returned from a 1400 km cycling tour from South Australia to Mildura through the Gammon Ranges), his Fitz’s days are now purely focused on event management.
When asked why he does it, John jokingly replies “If you work that out, let me know!”
But the truth is, John gives up his time, hour upon hour upon hour of his time, to make the Fitz’s Challenge the best event it can be. To give the riders the experience of their cycling year, triumphing over self-doubt and their own sense of their physical limits. He wants the event to be safe, to be seamless, and most of all, for people to connect with cycling in a supportive and positive environment.
On behalf of all the riders, thank you, John.
The Fitz’s Challenge will be held on Sunday 30 October 2022. If you would like to volunteer, please get in touch. There are lots of roles to choose from, including planning and logistics before the event, helping with registration the day before, route marking, photography, and checkpoint management.