“You’re going to laugh when you hear this,” says Brooke down the line. “I’ve been in Sutherland hospital all weekend. I came off my bike on a training ride.”
I do laugh, but only because Brooke’s laughing too. She has the kind of laugh that’s truly infectious, and clearly spills over into her enthusiasm for life in general, and her dedication towards the police family in particular.
She goes on to detail the accident, including the fact that you could “see the shiny ligaments in my leg”, clearly enjoying my reaction. In what could be the dictionary definition of irony, the reason she came off her bike was because the cycle path she was riding on in order to stay safe had a problem.
In her initial email, Brooke described herself as “not a rider”. Curious about that, I find out she means not a road rider, not a "serious" rider. She’s ridden bikes her whole life. After knee surgery last year, she was advised against running – another lifelong passion. A friend took her along to the Waratah Masters cycle race and she got that bug instead.
Now she’s got the bike and the shoes and the lights and the gear, and most importantly, she’s got the attitude. She’s been training hard, and despite her current situation, she has no intention of not doing the ride. “I mean, Dad said he might donate if I don’t do the ride, but you know…?” That laugh again.
Brooke has been in the Police Force for 23 years, working now as a coroner’s advocate. I ask her how she learned about the Remembrance Bike Ride, how she knows about Police Legacy. “I mean… everyone knows about Police Legacy! You learn about it in the Academy.” Like a lot of young cadets, she learned about Police Legacy as part of her initial training, thought it sounded like a good idea, and ticked the box to donate regularly from her pay.
“And then later you find out what it really means,” she says. When friends and colleagues start dying, or getting killed, when you know children who suddenly have no mother or father. When you see the difference that the organisation can make to their lives. That’s why she’s getting out of bed before dawn, working towards conquering her fear of the dangers of road riding. “Whatever money we raise goes to the children, to the widows, all of that.”
She hasn’t learned how to change a tyre yet, but it’s on her list. She’s had two punctures on training rides so far, but luckily they’ve been pretty close to home. She did have a pedal fall off 5 kms away from home – “Don’t ask me how that happened!” – and had another friend drive past, later telling her they thought she was just enjoying the walk.
Some people might have given up, given the number of challenges she has had to face. I suspect that giving up is not really in Brooke’s nature.
“Some of my friends are just going to shake their heads, and say Brooke, we know you’re going to do this anyway,” she says. “But I’ve always said if you’re going to do it, you should just do it, and you might as well do it for charity.”
We couldn’t agree more.