Ride Don't Hide raises $16,400

About 200 cyclists participated in Sunday's Ride Don't Hide Oxford, which started and finished at Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock. More than $16,400 was raised by the Oxford branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. (Chris Abbott/Postmedia Network)

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Sunday’s fifth annual Ride Don’t Hide Oxford helped raise awareness, bringing mental health into the open, and raised more than $16,400 for Oxford County walk-in counselling.

“Beautiful, beautiful,” said Kerri Crousset, who completed the 48-km Ride Don’t Hide route.

“A couple nice hills,” she added with a laugh. I just go slow and everybody passes me, then I catch up going down. It’s fun.”

With her son Stefan and husband Dominique, they formed the team Crousset Cruisers. A first time participant in the fifth annual Ride Don’t Hide Oxford event, Crousset said she often likes to bike to work.

“I bike 10km to work, and we do a couple of these rides a year like the Tour de Grand.”

A social worker at the Woodstock hospital, Crousset said it’s “hugely” important to raise awareness for mental health and mental health programs.

“Especially here,” said Crousset. “It’s huge.

“Everybody is affected, oh yeah. Everybody has a mental health issue in their family of some kind.”

Whether or not it is acknowledged, noted another participant.

“Exactly,” Crousset nodded. “It’s huge, absolutely.”


Bill Thompson of Woodstock is in the home stretch the Ride Don’t Hide event Sunday in Oxford County. (Chris Abbott/Tillsonburg News) jpg, TN


Four ride routes were available Sunday – 6km, 15km, 28km and 48km, the longest route excellent for ‘riders who enjoy long, country rides, pedaling past corn and cows’ on a looping course from Woodstock north to the Embro and Innerkip areas, returning to Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock.

“It was a really nice ride,” said Crousset.

The 200 riders on bikes Sunday was the most ever at Ride Don’t Hide Oxford, said organizer Kathlene Campbell-Conlon, Community Engagement and Volunteer Coordinator, CMHA Oxford.

“This year was our highest attendance.”

The short distance 6-km route is suitable for young families, she said, and recreational riders.

“It’s really quick and it’s on City of Woodstock approved bike routes. Plus we also had Woodstock City Police and Auxiliary, so we had a lot of visibility. That’s always our No. 1 goal, safety. And safety is visibility. We want other vehicles to notice… ‘oh, there’s something happening, there’s something going on that maybe I should slow down for.’”

In their fifth year, changing the start/finish location made a difference, said Campbell-Conlon.

“Every year you get better at, and this year the committee was fantastic. At the same time you’re always thinking, ‘what one or two things can change to improve it?’ That’s the nice thing about it being an annual event. And I think this, moving here to Huron Park, was the big change, the big improvement.”

Previously staged in their parking lot on Peel Street in Woodstock, they felt they didn’t have enough space.

“Here, we’ve got a big lot. And it’s better here if it rains.”


Kerri Crousset, a social worker at the Woodstock hospital, completed the 48-km Ride Don’t Hide route Sunday in Oxford County on a team (Crousset Cruisers) with her husband Dominique and son Stefan. (Chris Abbott/Tillsonburg News/Postmedia Network) jpg, TN


Organizers have already started thinking about the 6th annual Ride Don’t Hide. Campbell-Conlon said they would like to have a ‘smaller footprint’ event with less reliance on single-use plastics.

“Cycling is one of the most environmentally-friendly forms of transportation, so if we can make our event as environmentally friendly as possible, I am 100 per cent in favour of that.”