INJURY: Damien Mueller after a mountain bike accident near Warwick.
INJURY: Damien Mueller after a mountain bike accident near Warwick. Jason Grant

Rider badly injured near Warwick goes in charity ride

A MOUNTAIN bike rider who was badly injured near Warwick in November was part of a group who showed no shortage of strength, determination and mateship during LifeFlight's Tour de Rescue charity bike ride on Sunday.

Fifty-six cyclists tackled the gruelling 155-kilometre course, which started on Brisbane's northside and ended at the Sunshine Coast LifeFlight base, banding together to help raise money for the vital rescue helicopter service.

Australian cycling legend and three-time Tour de France green jersey winner, Robbie McEwen led the charge, accompanying riders along the way and offering words of encouragement to the peloton.

Riders spent more than eight hours in the saddle, meandering through the Sunshine Coast hinterland and taking on 1763 metres of climbing, including up the Blackall Range, before they were greeted by the welcome sight of the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue chopper at the finish line at the Maroochydore base.

LifeFlight crews, generous sponsors, athletes and past patients such as Damien Mueller were among those taking part in this year's Tour de Rescue.

Damien was rescued by RACQ LifeFlight Rescue last November after he was badly injured while mountain-bike riding near Warwick.

While riding down an old section of track, a stick got caught in the spokes of Damien's bike and caused it to flip.

"My bike suddenly stopped and I flipped forward, landing on my head and I knocked myself out cold," Damien said.

Due to the remote location of the riding track and the extent of Damien's injuries - which included two broken hands and a hematoma on his larynx - the Toowoomba-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter was called to airlift him to hospital.

The expertise and care offered to Damien on that day is something he will never forget.

"Their whole approach and attitude was great. I know they were just doing their job but they were doing their job so well and with a great level of professionalism," he said.

For Damien, the Tour de Rescue was a perfect way to give back to the lifesaving charity.

The end of the financial year marked the charity's busiest year in its 36-year history, with its doctors, community rescue helicopters and Air Ambulance jets performing a record 5,252 missions.

"After my accident, I always wanted a way to repay that favour in some way. I always thought doing something bike-related would be a great way to give back," he said.

"When I saw the Tour de Rescue advertised I thought that would be the perfect way to show my appreciation while also doing some important fundraising."

Damien is one of three past patients who cycled in this year's event, their stories helping to inspire others and helping each cyclist to reach their fundraising target of $1000.

Money raised in the Tour de Rescue will go towards the LifeFlight Foundation, a community-based charity which supports the iconic RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter service.

Leanne Angel, CEO of the LifeFlight Foundation said the money raised in this year's Tour de Rescue would make a true difference to the lives of Queenslanders.

"The LifeFlight Foundation's core purpose is to fund and support the efforts of LifeFlight Australia's aeromedical service which helps almost 5,000 sick or injured Queenslanders each year," Ms Angel said.

"The money raised in this year's Tour de Rescue will help us continue our mission to give every man, woman and child in Queensland equal access to emergency, lifesaving aeromedical care, at no cost to those we save."

Three-time Tour de France green jersey winner, Robbie McEwen has been a long-time supporter of LifeFlight and said the event was a great way for keen cyclists to give back.

"These helicopters - with aeromedical crews onboard - have helped save so many lives over the years, but it costs a lot of money to keep these choppers in the air and saving lives," McEwan said.

Cyclists will continue their fundraising efforts over the next few weeks. If you would like to donate to the Tour de Rescue please visit: tinyurl.com/LFTDRrego



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