Over 70 furry-faced and dirt-flecked postie bike riders thundered into Nambucca Heads around lunchtime today, much to the bemusement of rubberneckers and pottering pedestrians.
The record cohort of riders are half-way through the seventh annual Postie Bike Dash - an event which raises money for Variety the Children's Charity.
Event co-founder Lenny Muddle serviced postie bikes in Newcastle for 40 years before he decided to ride them to raise money for sick and disadvantaged kids, or those with special needs.
The first Dash in 2014 saw Lenny team up with 23 other riders, and it's steadily grown since then; one team called the Wascally Wabbits keeps multiplying each year, much like their namesake.
"It's quite unique - riding postie bikes 1500-1600km in a week is unheard of, but they're a great little bike," Lenny said.
And he's always on hand to source bikes and parts for people, or to do a bit of on-road maintenance mid-ride.
Guy Finn is another Dash veteran. He bought a postie bike after a heart attack in 2014 and hasn't looked back. Next year he hopes to bring his son along for the first time.
He said he gets a kick out of the diversity of the terrain.
"We ride on all road conditions - tar, gravel, mud, forestry roads - and it's a challenge adapting to each new condition," he said.
Plus not too many people can say they've been able to go from Tamworth to Gloucester over the Barringtons for under $11.
But while many enjoy the thrill and the camaraderie of the ride, Lenny said it's all really about the kids.
"Over the years I have met some incredible people on the Dash, many of whom have become great mates. But to have a record number of riders this year means we can help even more kids at a time when they need it the most," Lenny said.
They usually stop off at schools along the way, to hand out little presents and play games.
"There's a real joy in seeing the excitement on the kids' faces at each of the schools we go to," Guy said. "They love the outfits."
"We stopped off at Nowendoc one year - I think there were eight kids - and played cricket. I don't think they'd ever played a game of cricket with a full field before."
In total, 71 fundraising riders, including 30 Variety newbies, are part of the 90-person entourage travelling through the NSW north-west countryside; the culmination of nine months of fundraising.
It's just as well the Dash is the biggest yet because this year Variety has seen a 400 per cent increase in grant applications.
Interim General Manager for Variety David Small said the record number of riders had signed up to take part in a year when fundraising is needed most.
Like many charities impacted by COVID, we are facing fundraising challenges at a time where demand for our help has never been higher.Interim General Manager for Variety David Small
Most of the recent enquiries for Variety support were related to education supplies and technology.
"Kids have had their lives impacted by COVID, but for those already finding it tough due to sickness, disability or their family's financial situation, the impact has been far greater," David said.
"We are seeing a number of vulnerable families ask for help for the first time."
Over the last two years, Variety has supported a number of kids and families living across the NSW north-west including in Tamworth, Nambucca Heads, Glen Innes and Gunnedah.
"The route is special because we drive through some of the communities Variety has directly supported," David said.
"And with more than 90 people having the ride of their life, we hopefully will also be giving local tourism a boost with more than $11,000 spent on local hotels, food and supplies at stops on our way."
The riders will leave bright and early tomorrow morning for Glen Innes.