Photo from left to right: Former professional cyclist Phil Anderson OAM, Ben Carbonaro AFLUD Property Steward and Andrew Toy, former Canberra based umpire.

AFL umpires Ray Chamberlain, Chris Donlon and Chris Esler all participated in the Razor Ride raising money for mental health last week, there was another member of the umpiring fraternity that went along. Training and Property Assistant Ben Carbonaro was part of the volunteer support crew for the ride.

Here is his report on what was a great week that saw the riders pedal over 800 kilometres from Ballarat back to Melbourne.

Pumping up footballs, mixing drinks, organising uniforms and distributing tickets are just some of the tasks that I am used to doing as part of my role with the AFL Umpiring Department; definitely not volunteering on a charity bike ride.

This was until Ray approached me towards the end of last year to see if I was interested in volunteering on the Razor Ride, I jumped at the opportunity and what an experience it was!!!

From a team meeting at the Melbourne Icehouse on Sunday, preparing lunch for the riders, washing uniforms to spending a lot of time chatting with Ray’s brother Brian in one of the support cars, it was full on every day.

The banter between riders, volunteers and others involved with the ride got us all through the ride, some entertaining and some not so entertaining.   

Sitting in the support car wasn’t just about following the riders each day, it also meant I had to keep my eye on the RideGPS app on a phone or tablet, assist with bike repairs, make sure there was food as well as drinks ready at designated time points and of course the all-important music selection was to Brian’s liking.

My crowning moment of the week was when I spent the day in the bus with Ray’s father Paul and taught him how to use the tablet, so much so that he was able to spend a later day of the ride navigating the ride route himself.

Without a doubt, the most high profile rider was Australian cycling pioneer Phil Anderson who coordinated the ride with his partner Anne as well as smashing out all six days on the bike; what really amazed me just how relaxed he was after jumping off each day.

Like all of us in umpiring, we are all sports lovers and it was an absolute thrill to be given a guided tour of his house which overlooks the Great Ocean Road; I even got a photo in front of his yellow jersey.

Former Carlton player Andrew Phillips also rode and aside from a 42 game AFL career, he has also been very successful in business. Ray first met the man affectionately known as “Flipper” through former AFL umpire Adrian Panozzo.

Phil and Andrew were just two of a 20 rider contingent that rode in two groups across the week for a very worthwhile cause.

I’ve already expressed my interest at being involved next year due to the great people I met and amazing experiences that I had across the week.

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Article written by: Ben Carbonaro

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