I’m not saying that you’re a damsel in distress, but there going to be times when everyone needs a hero. Enter the Knights of Suburbia.
Formed in 2015 and led by the fearless David Rigney and Russell Lee, there are currently 45 fully-fledged members and over 100 affiliated knights battling it out for Strava glory.
Words - Katie Quinn Images - Ivan Dennis
But the Knights of Suburbia are more than just your average group of mates. Born out of a tale of heartbreak for a family struggling with their son’s mental health problems, the Knights of Suburbia have spent the past 18 months raising over $80,000 for Love Me Love You, the organisation they credit with saving that young man’s life.
Ex-ALF star Lance Picioane runs ‘Love Me Love You’. With the help of their community partners, Kids Helpline, Lifeline, and the Butterfly Foundation, LMLY empowers young people aged 15 – 30 who are dealing with mental health problems, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders and life hardships. Love Me Love You works with young people in schools, sporting clubs and community organisations to get these young adults “Back to School, Back to Sport, Back to Life!”. Through workshops, presentations, and interactive sessions they engage their audience and succeed in changing the stigma associated with Mental Health issues. They get clients and their families in touch with essential services at the time when they need them most.
While there are a lot of cycling groups teamed with worthy cancer charities, Love Me Love You is very special. They are assisting a subsection of our society that needs a lot of help. 75% of mental health disorders begin before the age of 25 and currently 1 in 4 Australians are living with a mental illness. Think about that, a quarter of your cycling buddies may be struggling and you might have no idea.
The Knights of Suburbia joined forces with LMLY last year, and after 6 months of careful planning the first fully supported “Ride with Me” cycling awareness event was held in October. Led by Olympian and World Champion Cyclist Shane Kelly, Day 1 involved riding from Warrnambool through the Otways to Apollo Bay, on day 2 they followed the Great Ocean Road to Queenscliff, then crossing on the ferry and heading towards Melbourne via Arthurs Seat on Day 3. For the 28 cyclists, many new to the sport themselves, this epic 3 day ride was a mental battle of their own, with the fundraising goal for the vital work of LMLY never being far from their minds.
So then, do you need to inject some positivity into your riding? Well with the Knights of Suburbia you’re unlikely to find a more inclusive and upbeat group. Made up of ‘average’ cyclists with big hearts, they have no restrictions as long as you are keen to participate and eager to help. These guys accept the inexperienced, intimidated newbie cyclist and turn them into a lean, mean cycling machine. Participation is key, winning in a bonus.
The name was the brainchild of Naish Chapman, likening their efforts to the ‘weekend warrior’. Their members come from all walks of life, tradies, professionals, even Australian team inline skating champions, all with optimism, a love for fitness and inner strength. Chicks can make superb Knights too; just ask Philipa Birch and Kim Lee. Here is a crew that is providing a pathway towards bigger and better things. These comrades have a drive to succeed, a desire that is modeled in Liam Garriga and Lionel Mawditt, two of their youngest stars who are showing plenty of potential. Their supporters have come from near and far. Verge Sport has the Knights looking slick in their new kits and their Swift Carbon bikes are second to none.
You might spy the Knights of Suburbia hanging out with Peak Cycles in a Wednesday, or dancing on the pedals on the North Road Ride on a Friday morning. On the weekends they’re torn between Cycle House or the
Papa Bear Cafe rides. Check out the ‘Knights of Suburbia Racing’ page on Facebook or their @knightsofsuburbia Instagram account. Otherwise just keep your eyes peeled around the clock on Beach Road and through the hilly northern suburbs of Melbourne, when you least expect it your Knight in shining armor will appear.
For the Knights of Suburbia the future looks bright. This band of merry (and very fit) men and women has more than just criterium domination and race team aspirations. On the horizon is the team launch event, the 2016 Ride With Me fundraiser, the 200km one-day Verge Epic event, as well as aspirations to work with the Papa Bear Cafe and the local Eltham community to create a cycling festival in their local stomping ground. The number one priority behind all of this being to getting Love Me Love You into the wider community, and letting the youth of today know that no one should travel their journey alone.