First Bloke's charity ride scare

Tim Mathieson was riding in support of an anti-slavery organisation in Cambodia when he hit a kerb and flew off his bike on Sunday.
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For a fearful moment, Australia was in danger of losing its First Bloke.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard's partner Tim Mathieson had just led a swarm of almost 30 motorcyclists from Sydney's Kirribilli House to Canberra when, only a few kilometres from The Lodge, his motorbike hit a round-about too fast, scraped a footpeg, hit the kerb and flew into the air.
"I thought he was gone," said long-time TV personality and entertainer Greg Evans, who was riding right behind Mathieson.
Arrived in one piece ... Greg Evans, left, and Tim Mathieson at The Lodge.
Arrived in one piece: Greg Evans, left, and Tim Mathieson at The Lodge. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
To Mathieson's huge relief, the big Triumph Thunderbird he was riding landed on top of the gutter, ran along it and he was able to pull to a stop, shaken and – he confided to his fellow bikers – concerned at what Ms Gillard's reaction would be when she heard the story.
Still, his exploits helped raise about $60,000 for Hagar Australia, a charity that assists children in Cambodia and other nations who have survived human trafficking and slavery.
Riders including the chief of the Big Day Out, Adam Zammit, the secretary of the ACTU, Dave Oliver, and Melbourne barrister Michael Pena-Rees, plus business figures and some of Mathieson's old mates each paid a minimum of $2000 to ride from breakfast at Kirribilli to a barbecue lunch at The Lodge.
Heading out: Tim Matheson gears up at Kirribilli House.
Heading out: Tim Matheson gears up at Kirribilli House. Photo: Nick Moir
The funds raised – including money donated spontaneously by townsfolk at the NSW highlands village of Kangaroo Valley, who also whipped up batches of fresh-made scones, jam and cream for the riders – would maintain 60 survivors of slavery at a special school in Cambodia for a year, according to spokespeople for Hagar.
And Australia still has a First Bloke – by a whisker.
Mathieson said he was goaded into making the charity ride when several Press Gallery journalists who rode motorbikes appeared on ABC TV last year and said Ms Gillard wouldn't allow him to ride.
He and staff from Hagar – an organisation named after the first slave mentioned in the Bible's Book of Genesis – decided to turn a motorcycle ride into a major event.
Hagar Australia's chief executive, Kate Kennedy, pointed out that human trafficking had become a massive industry estimated to be worth $32 billion a year. Hillary Clinton had said recently it was so large it was in the realm of drugs trafficking.
Participants were treated to an afternoon at Kirribilli House and an evening viewing the harbour, breakfast at the Sydney Prime Ministerial residence and a ride of almost 400 kilometres to Canberra via Wollongong and the Kangaroo Valley.
The tortuous road to Kangaroo Valley claimed its first victim when Greg Evans fell from his Harley-Davidson - without injury - on a hairpin bend.
The entire village of Kangaroo Valley turned out to greet the bikers, the main street turned into a feast of Devonshire tea and cameras popped as Mathieson climbed onto a table outside the pub to thank the townsfolk and to relate that he had visited Hagar's school in Cambodia only two weeks ago.
He was, he said, very moved to see the work undertaken to assist children who had been subject to sexual exploitation and slavery.
The ride continued without incident in perfect April weather until Mathieson and a couple of other riders got ahead of the bunch and headed in to Canberra.
He said he realised he was in trouble when he got halfway around a large round-about just outside Canberra and, with his footpeg scraping, couldn't lean the bike far enough to complete the bend. "I ran out of road," he said.
"I hit the gutter, got airborne, and I just thought 'I'm going to come off'.
"I came back down again, perfect, and [the bike] just stuck itself pretty much to the [top of] the gutter, the kerbing, and it came straight back down to the road.
"I was pretty much sure I was gone." But he was able to pull to a stop, perspiring, with Greg Evans astounded it hadn't turned into a serious accident.