A tribute from a RoCan Cyclist

RoCan Fashion Parade 1.JPG

Here I was sitting in my lycra at Nelson Brothers funerals in Williamstown in the room next to Yvonne's funeral service. COVID-19 pandemic meant only 10 people were allowed to attend the funeral of Yvonne Moon.

A few days earlier Fred had called to ask if I’d like to be part of a small number of riders that would accompany the hearse as it left Nelson Brothers. Of course I would! I would have loved it more if all the RoCan riders past and present could have ridden along as well. Whilst disappointed it couldn’t be that, I understood why it had to be this way, and felt very honoured I was asked to be a part of it.

I’m able to hear the service being officiated by Greg Ross next door. I know it’s being videotaped to be uploaded shortly after, but I wanted to sit there and listen and sort of be part of it. Greg was doing such a fantastic job and I identified with a lot of what was being said about Yvonne.

My first RoCan ride was in 2017, a newcomer compared to many that had served it so well for many years. Whilst there are many great memories of Yvonne as part of the RoCan ride, as I sit there, the strong memory I have is for a non cycling event Yvonne put together in 2019.

Let me set the scene. There were many events Yvonne ran, including dinners, golf days, concerts and the like. These all complemented the annual RoCan cycling event. Being a cyclist I fit in neatly into that event. Having been run for many years, the format was reasonably settled. I got asked to join the organising committee. Who could say no to Yvonne? Each person in the committee had their own contribution. I work in IT, so a lot of mine were to do with communications, streamlining the fundraising, sharing photos and bike videos. I was in my element.

In 2019, Yvonne fulfilled a dream to run a fashion show as a RoCan fundraiser. She asked me if I’d like to be part of it, together with my much better looking son Adam. A fashion show was not something I aspired to. My wife Jackie will attest to this, fashion is not my strong point. Indeed when I’m in Williamstown many of my (cruel) friends will say I look like a homeless person. Being part of a fashion show was certainly not in my wheelhouse, but who could say no to Yvonne? I’m glad Adam said yes because it would mean there were two of us well out of our comfort zone.  The only clothes we tried on before the event were some dinner suits when we met Yvonne one lunchtime at the suit hire shop. As well, I supplied Yvonne with our key measurements, neck sizes, arm, chest, inside leg etc. That was about the extent of our preparation prior to the day. I don’t know who was invited and just assumed the RoCan bike riding crowd would be.

The fashion parade was held at the Italia Club in Sunshine near the ring road. Jackie and I attended as well as Adam of course. We got there ahead of time to get ready. From the time we got there to the time it finished for me was total confusion. I told Adam we just had to go with the flow and enjoy the mayhem. The hall was large and there were a lot of people already there. On one side of the hall were many stalls where vendors were selling stuff I had no idea about. I couldn’t see any stalls selling bike gear. On the other side of the hall were all the donated goods that would be auctioned off. A lot of it! How does Yvonne do it? In amongst all of this was Yvonne running around the place getting things going. I had so many questions, what order do we wear out clothes in? What to wear each time. Where are the clothes? Why are they all different sizes to us? We got Yvonne’s attention for short periods of time, where she pointed us to someone and gave some of the answers. She’ll be right was the Aussie saying that came to mind. Typical Yvonne, this was being organised on the fly and in the meantime there was mayhem. Next thing Adam and I are getting descriptions for all the goods and writing them down and working out a reserve price. We were now part of the auction team. How did that happen? Just go with the flow.

But you know what, it worked. The night was a great success. Everyone had a good time and importantly money was raised for the charity. There was an opera singer, an MC that had beaten cancer and also a giant cheque from Bendigo Bank to name a few. That is a day I’ll remember for a long time. Only someone like Yvonne could have made that a success. All those there loved Yvonne and that’s a big part of why it worked. At many times before the night, and perhaps during, she could have said you know what, this is really too hard and let’s not go ahead. Yvonne’s idea was to give it a go and had the courage to do it. If it works great, if not so be it. More often than not, it worked for Yvonne. She wasn’t afraid of failure. She achieved so much with this attitude that you just marvel at, and ask the question how did Yvonne do that?

In all these things, Yvonne was able to get people to help her. It didn’t matter if you knew anything about what she was asking. She was always very appreciative of the help regardless of when, where and how well it was done. She really did appreciate it.

So as the service was ending, I went outside and met with the other riders, Gus and Regis Garnsworthy and Phil Purdy, the who’s who of RoCan. We were to escort Yvonne along Kororoit Creek Road. Gus and Regis said they would ride up to Maddox Road and turn around. Phil was riding further up and turning off to work, a place we had many a RoCan committee meeting. Fred had told me earlier that the hearse would continue straight on Kororoit Creek Road after Millers Road and we could ride with it until then. I planned to do that and that would be my goodbye to Yvonne, and then ride along on my own to be in my own space, perhaps riding to Avington in Saltwater Prominade where Yvonne and Fred’s home is.  

When we turned out from Nelson Brothers, I was amazed at the number of people lining the street. Very emotional to see. I can’t imagine how many people there would have been at the service if this pandemic wasn’t on.

As Phil turned off, I asked the driver to increase the speed. I wanted to ride as fast as I could. I wanted to let it all out. As I did so, tears started to stream down my face again. As we got closer to Millers Road where I would say goodbye, even more tears.

However, the hearse indicated to turn left into Millers Road. I decided to continue. I wanted to stay longer with Yvonne. Didn’t we all. Near the railway in Altona, we had to wait because a train had held up the rest of the cars. Fred explained there would be some singers up the road. I said I’d ride as far as I could, and he was happy with that. Along the beach in Altona there were people on both sides of the road and music and singing was in full swing. More tears. Wow another part of Yvonne’s world coming out to pay their tribute.

I managed to continue on all the way to Avington where a few other RoCan riders would be waiting to escort Yvonne around the estate. As I rode, I thought about the fact that I was slipstreaming a hearse. Not something I’d ever done before. Yvonne certainly would have seen the funny side of that. When doing such riding, you need to concentrate a lot to ensure you don’t crash into the back of the hearse. Another laugh for Yvonne no doubt. I ended up being the sole rider. Had I known I would have continued the whole way, it would have been better having an additional rider with me. The way it looked to the casual observer was a cyclst on a training run taking advantage of a hearse to slip stream. Indeed on Point Cook road there was a tradie driving in the opposite direction shouting his displeasure. Yvonne would have laughed and said stuff him.

At Avington Peter ‘Hollywood’ Laing, Andrew Rothfield, Thelma Hutchinson and Denis O’Brien greeted us. More great people I’ve met as being part of this RoCan charity. The familiar Mercedes Vito Van in it’s RoCan charity livery led us around. This van dubbed the Danny DeVito was the support vehicle during the RoCan rides. It’s distinctive looks was a welcome sight out on the open road and it was often Fred driving with Yvonne riding shotgun to give us whatever support we needed.  Fred now asked me to lead the other riders around the estate. Again I couldn’t believe how many were out to see Yvonne off, a lot of them dressed like they were going to a cocktail party. Truly emotional.

We stopped at Yvonne’s and Fred’s home where Fred said his last goodbye. He asked me to escort the hearse out of the estate. I kept riding until I could no longer see Yvonne.

I’ve written this as a tribute to Yvonne.  Also, a lot of what I’ve written here is for the RoCan riders who weren’t able to be part of this ride, which I really wish they could have been. Likewise, the video is for their benefit also. I’ve kept the video as raw as possible with minimal editing. Finally, Fred, this video is also for you to see some of Yvonne’s journey after your goodbye.

Bye Yvonne,

Love Branco

Yvonne Moon funeral video

RoCan cyclists on road tribute and farewell to Yvonne

Yvonne Moon photo tribute

Following Yvonne's hearse on a bicyvle.j