Project Discovery Classic: Riding to achieve Neil Sachse’s vision

The Neil Sachse Centre will host the sixth edition of their 3-day Project Discovery Classic cycling tour through McLaren Vale this year, raising funds for Neil's great vision: to find a cure for spinal cord injuries.

The ride will will take place from Thursday 18 November to Saturday 20 November and will take riders on a scenic 3-day tour from Adelaide to the McLaren Vale and back. 

Registration is now open to be a part of the ride, including meals, accommodation and an event jersey and vest, as well as a host of amazing experiences including wine tastings and dinners. Riders are encouraged to fundraise and get their families involved in the enjoyable challenge.

Learn more and register here.

Aussie Rules football fans may remember Neil Sachse as the former SANFL and VFL footballer who was left quadriplegic by an infamous on-field incident in only his second game of football for Footscray.

His fate highlighted the risks of on-field injury, and from then on Neil dedicated his life to finding a cure for spinal cord Injuries and changing the future for people living with these disabling conditions, leading to the founding of the Neil Sachse Foundation in 1994.

In 2016, the Neil Sachse Centre and the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) launched ‘Project Discovery’ – a medical study providing the most advanced imaging of the spine with the aim of revolutionising the diagnosis and prognosis of spinal cord injury and other spinal pathologies.

The cycling tour was estbalished to help raise funds to support this world-first research, named ‘Project Discovery Classic’.

Project Discovery uses advanced 'positron emission tomography' to produce 3D images of the spine, giving researchers the ability to source a range of radiopharmaceuticals previously not available. Funds raised by Project Discovery Classic riders supports this vital work.

One of the amazing facts about this ride is that it was started by Kevin O’Keefe, the footballer who collided with Neil in that infamous on-field accident. Kevin is pictured in the accompanied photo kneeling next to Neil. 

Below that is a photo of Neil with the former head cycling coach of Australia's track program Charlie Walsh, who has ridden the first five Project Discovery Classics.

In August last year Neil Sachse sadly passed away after a short illness. SANFL chief executive Jake Parkinson said Neil "remained a pioneer, committed and tenacious in his pursuit for research and understanding of spinal injuries through his foundation for which our game is the benefactor. He will be deeply missed."

You can learn more about Neil's incredible story in the below Youtube clip from 7.30 Report back in 2009.


Learn more about the Neil Sachse Centre and Project Discovery here.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.