It’s Thursday morning. I am sitting in Commissary, a park-side cafe with good views of potential revolutionaries lapping their lycra around the 1.2km loop across the road. I am catching myself wondering where we ride today, mentally checking that I charged the Garmin and whether I have done my sunscreen or not. The Pain Revolution is a hard thing to leave. Another incredible week. An inspiring group of clever, kind, community-minded and committed people. What a pleasure it was to be part of that and to watch the fire ignite in our collective belly. A fire burning so bright that we are all etched into each others’ brains forever. Like 4evah!
As a card-carrying scientist, I am impressed by the numbers:
25 cyclists. 750km. 11,500 vertical metres. 450 bananas. 10kg of snake lollies. 500 sandwiches (thanks Di!) 100L of soft drink. 12kg of cold meats.
10 outreach events. 1000+ participants. 250 engaged users of the Brain Bus. 35 media interviews. 677 individual donors. $77,498 and counting raised.
A dozen Local Pain Educators and their mentors engaged and deep in training. A dozen new expressions of interest.
A few dozen new friendships. Several new community and commercial partnerships. One fully committed Pain Revolution family.
As a card-carrying clinician, I am impressed by the transformative engagements:
There were so many stories of lives changed, and lives changing, that each day brought new reasons to keep on keeping on. Just a couple of examples:
- Deb from Goulburn, who took two buses and three hours to get herself, her parents and her partner to the Canberra public event to let the Revolutionaries know that ’this message saved my life', and to give her pain-suffering parents new hope that so much more is possible with the right knowledge.
- Maeve from the Illawarra, who organised a series of cake mornings to raise money and with teary eyes, handed me an envelope containing $22.20 and a note saying ‘When the hills in front of you look too big, may your kind hearts and intelligent minds remind your aching legs why you are riding The Revolution'
- The cyclists who told me during the hug-fest at the finish line, that Pain Revolution was not just a great week on the bike, but a transformative experience that will change them forever.
Pain Revolution is so much more than a ride and rural outreach tour, but these things highlight what makes the week so different from other multi-day or fundraising rides. The shared vision and intensity of purpose pervades everything. We stay in humble hotels, some with unreliable hot water, dodgy instant coffee, stale biscuits and crunchy towels, but no one complains. We eat simple but solid meals, buy our own drinks, wash our own gear, share basic rooms with exhaust fans reminiscent of the United Airlines 747 silver rattler, but no one complains. Of course we love the riding. Of course we are entertaining our penchant for the peloton. But this is not why we ride. We ride because of our shared sense of Doing Something Very Important. We ride because we have a diverse and altogether remarkable skill and knowledge set that we want to share. We ride because we know the potential impact of sharing it. We ride because we really believe that a Pain Revolution is desperately needed and, critically, because we all think that it is actually possible. We do not ride as individuals looking for a challenge and a break from the hubbub - the Pain Revolution truly rides as one: cyclists, educators, Brain Bus, support staff, medics and massage crew.
It has been an epic and truly wonderful week, built on months of hard work and organisation of an outstanding team - Tracy, Angie, Dave, Steve, Tasha, Lissanthea and Kal, and building the foundation of a movement that is gathering momentum more quickly than the front peloton down Mount Cambewarra. Last year’s Pain Revolution clearly showed that the idea and the format had great potential - the Pain Revolution had a pulse. It is now patently clear that Pain Revolution has a strong heartbeat. The Revolution has begun and we can’t and won’t stop now. Our growing movement has the potential to actually take on the massive barriers to reducing the burden of persisting pain, because it is capturing the power of the people.
We do of course need money. We are very close to reaching our fundraising target of $80,000. Compare this with the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical and device market and it looks paltry. But throw the passion, commitment and evidence into the mix and we have a flame. To this end, we very much hope that those with a clear commercial interest in people recovering get on board. We really hope that AIA Australia, UniSA and Gallagher Bassett will see the incredible return on their sponsorship dollars and choose to get involved again. Think this statistic through: getting one pain sufferer back to work will save over $50k in one year. Reducing unnecessary and potentially harmful MRI scanning by 2% will save our national budget MILLIONS. Preventing one 40 year old with acute back pain from descending into a spiral of persisting back pain and disability will save a million dollars over their lifetime. We KNOW that Pain Revolution can deliver these returns and so so SO much more. The best thing about it is the inevitable snowball effect - if we keep working this together, if we hold our line - remain committed to truth and quality (because, ultimately, in the end, truth and quality always win), then the benefits will be exponential. If you know anyone who is losing money because of persistent pain in their community, then tell them we need money to revolutionise pain care, that we have a sustainable plan in place to do it, and that the potential return on investment will knock their socks off.
And start training for 2019. Provisional plans are taking shape and the call to cyclists will come via this website in a few months. If you are interested, you can add yourself to the growing list by emailing our Ride Boss, Steve Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org
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