Why this 80-year-old rode 344km on his bike  


You only turn 80 once, so you may as well make it count.

That’s the attitude Victoria’s Ray Lipscombe had towards his milestone birthday when it came up two weeks ago.

An avid cyclist who has been riding for 74 years, Ray decided to combine his two passions to celebrate the special occasion: cycling and dogs.

Starting from Albury Railway Station, the Victorian would ride the 344km to his hometown of Altona, raising money for everyone’s best friend along the way.

“I’ve had 79 birthdays, and most were insignificant,” Ray said.

“This year I wanted to do something special for the community and memorable for me. I’ve been a dog lover all my life.

“They give me immense joy. Their companionship and loyalty; a dog will do anything you want it to do.

“I retired nine years ago to spend more time with my dog.”

Ray with his current rescue dog Jessie Jay. 

Ray embarked on the three-day journey with his son and a support team on May 8. The first day was their shortest in the saddle, riding 68km from Albury to Wangaratta.

“It was a piece of cake,” Ray said, who averages 70-80km weekly.

The second day saw Ray and his son tackle the longest leg of the trip; a 154km ride from Wangaratta to Seymour.

“It was great, until the torrential rain hit. Our shoes were full of water,” Ray recalls.

The final ride took in 122km from Seymour to the Altona Men’s Shed in outer Melbourne, with just light rain for the pair’s run home.

“Together with the support team and my son, we have raised $12,000 for The Lost Dogs Home,” Ray said.

Celebrating turning 80, riding from Albury to Altona and raising $12,000.

The Lost Dogs Home is a cause close to Ray’s heart. In a relationship spanning 44 years, he has rescued five dogs - including his current dog Jesse-Jay - through the animal rescue organisation.

“The Lost Dogs home handles 18,000 animals a year, and it costs $31 a day for them to care for an animal,” he said.

The Albury-Melbourne ride isn't the first time Ray has tackled long distance rides for a cause.

Every year from 2011-2015, he rode more than 1,000km over six days with a crew of five other people, raising money for cancer research. The team raised $98,000 across the five years.

While he has cut back the kilometres recently, he still manages to get out on his 21-year-old Giant Defy around five days a week: three days are casual rides, while two days he will “push like crazy for 10km for the lungs and heart”.

“I love the freedom; you are just out there with your thoughts. I think about my life and friends, what I have on for the week.”

He hopes to keep riding for the next 10 to 12 years at least, and with a bit of luck, it might even be longer.

“I’m very fortunate to have good genes – my grandmother lived to 103.”

To donate to Ray and The Lost Dogs Home click here.

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