Meet Rhode, a remarkable man who has turned his passion for cycling into an annual community event with many enthusiastic participants. This is the tale of how Rhode’s love of long rides developed into “the rove”. Be inspired as you read Rhode’s story – great things can be achieved when you pursue simple passions that make you happy.
Tell us about the Rove…… how did it all come about?
I started riding with Bike Force Joondalup some 6 years ago and met a group of like-minded folk, one of which was John. He is always one to push himself and that rubs off on others, we started doing longer and longer rides, my nice and easy 20km became 50, then 100 etc. Initially these were called Rhode’s Roves.
John had, from memory, done a few rides to and from Bunbury over the years and he came up with the concept. The Co2 (Committee of Two and a play on the “compressed air canisters” carried by cyclists) was established – John and myself. We embarked together on a one way ride to Bunbury and such was the birth of the Bunbury Rove – a 200km ride. That was December 2009 and I think we had 13 cyclists.
Since then both the name has been shorted to “the rove” (lower case) and the rides lengthened to a maximum of 500km over two days and in 2014 the number of riders was close to 70. This year will be the 6th year. Other than the Bunbury ride we have a One Day Classic from Bullsbrook to Toodyay and return.
We aim to have another two events in 2015 – one of which will be a rove team in the Delirium 24 hour event in March.
The Rove 2012
What’s the philosophy behind it?
The tagline speaks for itself “re-define your limits”. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and surprise yourself with what can be achieved.
What’s your background?
Just hit the big half-century, an immigrant from South Africa. Married to Leslie with a 17 year old son, Michael. A banker / finance guy who found he enjoyed cycling and the company of great people dressed in lycra.
Rhode, Leslie and Michael
What’s your secret to ‘making time’ for cycling and organizing the Rove?
John does a heck of a lot of work on it and designed the rove kit we now use each year, and those fine coffee mugs (see above – stock still available), as well as the website and runs the books. I deal with the front end – registrations, payments, nodding my approval of John’s great work. It does take a bit of time but we have help from an expanded Co2 to Co3 or 4 and each year we learn from our mistakes and improve the process.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Work / eat / sleep / repeat. I normally wake up at 5.30. If I am riding I will get up and leave home at around 6.15 and 6.45 for either a BFJ ride or a commute to work in town. I normally get home no later than 6.30Pm, have dinner with the family, watch TV, and walk the dog. All nice, quiet mid-life activities.
You took a leap of faith… Did you ever wonder if you were doing the right thing?
I was concerned last year with the number of riders, many of whom I did not know from other clubs. It does make the logistics harder and more time consuming, and to be honest I thought it was time for a break from being an organizer. But after the event (the leg down in terrible weather) I saw the sense of achievement, the satisfaction, smiles and camaraderie, and the appreciation / gratitude of the riders. It was a fantastic feeling for both John and myself. It makes the time and effort all worth it and I will continue to be a member of the Co2 for a while yet.
What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
The weather has always been an issue, one that we cannot control but have learnt to work with. The first ride was too late in the year and therefore too hot. The second was earlier but still too windy. We soon hit on early September as the best time and have stuck with that. The rain is the rain. Last year was the first wet ride and that made it even more interesting and challenging.
Logistically, getting drivers for support vehicles, with the patience to drive at 30kph, is the main issue every year. But it always works itself out at the end of the day. My wife, Leslie, has done it every year and a few others (Bruce C) have done a good number of them. Without them the event cannot take place.We have also secured the support of a number of financial sponsors, most of whom ride with us, and this reduces the cost to the riders. We are most definitely a Not for Profit organisation.
We have also secured the support of a number of financial sponsors, most of whom ride with us, and this reduces the cost to the riders. We are most definitely a Not for Profit organisation.
The next step, starting this year, is to link a suitable and worthwhile charity to the therove allowing others the benefit and not only the participants. Our goal is to become a substantial donor over the next few years.
What are the tough parts of cycling long distances and setting up the Rove?
The distance comes with training and being prepared with nutrition, diet, support etc. The most difficult part is the mind – convincing yourself that you can ride that far (assuming you want to ride that far). A tube of good quality butt cream is a great help.
Can you give us some examples of when you’ve had to dig deep and be brave?
When I asked Les to marry me? Making the decision to leave South Africa for the sake of my wife and son, and leave my parents and sister behind. Both, by the Grace of God, have turned out to be the best decisions I have made.
Who is your role model and why?
I have never modelled myself on others. Your talents and goals are yours, and mine are mine. I admire the courage of a soldier who, at the sound of a whistle, went over the top to near certain death. Margaret Thatcher – who took no crap from anybody. Bill Clinton – just because he is Bill Clinton. Of course Mandela – a spirit of forgiveness and a very, very wise man who understood what impact he had and what could have happened if he took a different stance when released.
How has pursuing cycling and the Rove changed your life?
I am fitter and healthier than I have been since the mid 80’s. I have made great mates and it gets me up and out in the morning. The rove is going to grow into something bigger and bigger and the desired goal is to support a charity or two, so that both the participants and those in trouble (of whatever sort) benefit.
I have learnt:
- Patience, patience and patience.
- That if you spend enough time at something you can become pretty good at it. I will never be first across the line but that’s not important. Sharing the experience with your nearest and dearest is what counts.
Wisdom for others:
What’s the secret of your success?
By what measure am I successful? I have a loving family, good friends, a healthy mind and body. All of which comes without chasing the mighty $$. Success is in the eye of the beholder. And it’s easy – just do what your mother told you – play nice and be kind to others.
What’s next for you? What does the future hold?
Work & have fun, retire & have more fun, cycle as long as possible.
What advice would you give anyone who dreams of pursuing cycling?
Borrow a mates bike, ride it for a few months. If you enjoy cycling, buy the best bike you can afford. And more importantly the best nicks possible – your butt will thank you. Some guys can be brilliant riders seemingly overnight. For the masses it takes time and kilometers. And just enjoy it, whether you do 10km or 100km on a Saturday morning. But do push yourself at least a tiny bit – you will be surprised by what you can do on two wheels.
What advice would you give anyone who isn’t doing what they love?
Move on. Get out of the rut. Find something that adds value to your life and change whatever you can without hurting others.
How do you think each of us can live the fullest life possible?
Don’t be selfish, think of others and do for others. One day we leave everything behind. Make sure the legacy and love you leave is what people remember – not the house or car.
Rhode and Leslie at the Lost City
Leslie and Michael
The truth that once was spoken,
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.
Final Lyrics from Les Miserables
- On the bike (when the wind is not blowing a gale) and the coffee shop after a ride;
- Dinner table (not a restaurant) with good mates, good food & good wine;
- Anywhere I can have a white Christmas.
Biggest passion in life:
To try and be a good father to Michael, and of course cycling.
Most inspiring film you’ve seen:
Two will always stick in my mind – Gandhi and Amadeus.
Most inspiring book you’ve read:
Who Moved the Stone – changed my life many years ago.
Best light-bulb moment:
That getting married to Les would be a very good thing to do.
Anything is possible… what’s your wish?
Without wanting to sound like a Miss Universe contestant, the eradication of poverty and the suffering of children – anywhere and everywhere.
the rove 2014