Black dogs ride into Busselton

Black Dog Ride founder Steve Andrews in Nannup.
Black Dog Ride founder Steve Andrews in Nannup.
Riding through the rain in Busselton.

Riding through the rain in Busselton.

NEITHER atrocious weather, nor emus deterred a staunch group of bikers from setting the world record for the most black dogs on motorbikes, and it took place in our own backyard.

The inaugural National One Day Black Dog Ride left Dardanup for Busselton in squally conditions on Sunday morning, with 399 riders taking part in the local event, carrying 330 soft toy dogs (nicknamed Winston) between them, almost 100 more than the New South Wales ride.

The new one-day format involved 1750 riders from every state, except Tasmania – where the ride took part a week earlier.

Former ABC sports broadcaster Glenn Mitchell compered the event, and spoke about his battle with depression.

Founder and organiser Steve Andrews said inclement weather caused some riders to stay home, but it didn’t dull the spirit of the ride, which aims to raise awareness about depression and suicide prevention, and to raise money for Lifeline.

“It was so bad at one stage all I could see were the lights of the police escort I was following; those behind me had to fix on my tail-light,” Steve said.

“Then a flock of emus scattered all over the road – I was riding along in the middle of them for a while, before the police used the siren to scare them off.

“But despite that, I think the weather actually added something to the ride – there was great camaraderie, everyone had the weather and bikes in common so participants did a lot of bonding.

“Overall it was fantastic – and very successful.”

Steve, who lost his mother and several friends to suicide, said many participants had moving stories to share as a result of participating in former rides, such as the Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre or the Black Dog Ride for Lamp.

“It’s great to know we are starting to make a difference,” he said.

Sunday’s event was only marred by a rider coming to grief in surface water before reaching the starting point; however he was later discharged from hospital with minor injuries.