The rain kept some riders at bay for the annual Black Dog Ride through the Riverina, but organisers are still anticipating the same amount of generosity for their cause.
About 70 riders began their journey from Gumly on Sunday morning. Usually, there would be up to 200 riders, and even this year, 180 had registered online.
But with up to 11mm of rainfall up to 9am, the start had to be delayed, and the route to Collingullie was revised to avoid the worst of the weather.
In a normal year, riders from all over the nation would take part in the one-dayer. But this year, with storms continuing to batter much of the state, Wagga's ride was one of the few that actually managed to go-ahead.
"As far as I know, just Dubbo and Condobolin were able to have their ride as well," said organiser Nerolie Falconer.
Mrs Falconer and her fellow organiser and husband Graham "Bear" Falconer have ridden the Black Dog Ride for suicide prevention every year since 2016. But this was the first time they'd negotiated such wild conditions.
"I [was] a little nervous. I've only ridden two rides, not many in the wet," said Mrs Falconer.
"In the rain, it's important to ride to the conditions. Anyone in my situation would have to be taking it easy. It's not a race."
As riders arrived on Sunday morning, there were some learners ranked among them, but the majority of those who turned out were experienced enough to be undeterred by the rain and heavy winds.
"We had some Sydney riders who were going to join us, but obviously they've been flooded in," Mrs Falconer said.
Despite the lower-than-usual turnout, organisers are still expecting to raise about $6000 for the suicide prevention cause.
"The cause is the reason we're here. It's what binds us together, it's why so many have turned up at all in the rain," Mrs Falconer said.
The cause is something that is particularly close to John Wilson's heart. The Wagga rider has been taking part in the annual event for the past five years.
"I had a sister who died from suicide in 2000, so 21 years ago now," Mr Wilson said.
"It's always in your mind, you're always thinking about it but it's why something like this ride is so important."
Independent state member Dr Joe McGirr officially opened the ride and noted the symbolic qualities of the weather conditions.
"When you look out there, you think, 'yeah, that looks like what depression feels like', and that's what the Black Dog Ride is about," Dr McGirr said.
Frank and Vickie Zacka from Wagga took on their first Black Dog Ride. Regulars around Sydney's riding community, the Zackas moved to Wagga in 2009.
"We haven't had a bike since moving here so when we bought one in November [last year] we thought this ride would be a good opportunity," Mr Zacka said.
"I've been riding since I was 16-and-nine-months. The rain is always a risk but only if you let it be, you have to ride safely no matter the weather."
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