“The Peloton is stronger than the sum of its parts.” – Peter Lockyer
It could be said that in order to overcome something, you must first experience the pain of defeat. What drives people who love cycling and sport in general is often the small victories: the personal best beaten on a Sunday ride; making it up that climb without stopping.
With a background in rowing, triathlons, cycling and Ironman, Pete Lockyer knows the pain of defeat, but also the sense of elation in the face of it. The strength of the team - whether it’s the crew or the peloton - was great inspiration for the inaugural Lilyroo Ride.
Pete moved from the UK to Australia in October 2005. He had rowed for the London Rowing Club and used cycling mostly for training when off the water. Settling in Australia, he grew to love Melbourne’s cycling culture and the great rides in the area. Pete began to focus more on triathlon and Ironman events and met his kiwi wife Kristie through the Tribal triathlon club. They were married in 2012 and a year later they were pregnant with their girl Lily.
Pete and Kristie have always been incredibly open and forthright with their story. It is this quality that has drawn others to their cause and made the Lilyroo Ride such a success in raising funds for the Royal Women’s Hospital NISC unit.
On the 22nd March 2014, Kristie’s waters unexpectedly broke, 16 weeks and five days before she was due.
Pete was due to compete in his last ever Ironman event the following day, and while it was looking like it was no longer an option, with Kristie in a stable condition, surrounded by family and friends they decided Pete should go ahead and compete. They planned that should Kristie go into labour during the event, their friends and family would inform him and he would head straight to the hospital.
Pete crossing the line. Image courtesy of Steve Slingard, Slingard Studios
The strength that Pete and Kristie showed during that horribly difficult time was surely learned, partly, through their experience with intense endurance events. Pete said that, although it was an incredibly difficult time, it was a positive experience as he made it through that Ironman knowing that it was for Lily and Kristie. They would later use that same energy and inspiration for the Ride itself.
Three days after the Ironman, on 26th March, Lily was born and admitted to the NISC unit. The time Pete and Kristie had with Lily was cherished like any Mum and Dad with their first born. Sadly, Lily passed away one day later due to complications from the premature birth.
Lily Lockyer. Image Courtesy of Jane Poynter for the Royal Women's Hospital
The Lilyroo ride was established by Pete, Kristie and a core group of friends in honour of their daughter.
Pete said that they were amazed by the way they were looked after at the Women’s and they hoped to pass the same level of support they experienced at the hands of the staff, their friends and family to others who had similar experience with premature birth and newborns in intensive care.
Over a period of twelve months, Kristie, Pete and core committee members Mark Watkin, Pat Garrett, and Michael Clayton worked tirelessly to the get the event off the ground. Sanctioned by Cycling Australia, the Lilyroo Ride comprised 9 volunteers and a solid team of 20 cyclists. Each cyclist contributed $1,500 to the event itself and helped raise over $159,000 for the NISC unit at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne.
The tour led the peloton from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide through 1,156km of gruelling road all the way to The Royal Women’s in Melbourne. It took seven days, and while it certainly was no push over, the sense of community that was built, and the stories that were shared between the riders and the supporters at each stop were a constant reminder of what it was all about.
The peloton on the last day of the ride.
Pete and Kristie met countless Mums and Dads along the way and have stayed true to their belief that their story should be shared in order to raise awareness surrounding the difficulties of premature birth and sick newborns in hospital.
With the advances in technology, premature birth is a problem that is increasingly treatable. The money raised by the Lilyroo fund will purchase technology to give babies like Lily a chance at life.
While they are still tying up loose ends from 2015’s ride, Pete and Kristie are already talking about next year. Lily’s story has been shared with so many families and by so many Mums and Dads that it seems only a natural progression to continue to support the peloton that has grown in support of Lily and other families affected by premature birth.