It has been about a week since our team completed 14,178km around Australia at an average of 382.6km per day. Right now I am feeling every one of those kilometres as my body readjusts to life off the bike and off the pain relief that formed part of my daily routine. You may not believe it but I am finding it more difficult to walk now than when I hoped off the bike at around 5:25am Tuesday morning. But life is good. I was able to take my little girl, Sierra to a “big” park and hobble around after her; no push to get to the next town, no road trains and P platers stressing me out (no Sydney drivers!) and no headwinds to deal with, just peace for making it home to take my daughter to a park.
Before I left, the majority of cycling friends had me down as no chance of making the journey. They had thought they would see me again the following week for a club ride and coffee while the majority of non-cycling friends had me down as a chance. Personally, I really did not know how I would go. This challenge had me scared like no other, I knew the numbers and knew it would push me beyond my limits but I did not understand the depth of pain and despair I would fall into. To tell you the truth, riding close to 400km per day is okay, it is the conditions in which you ride these kilometres that make all the difference. It was the conditions that turned me into wild man on the verge of insanity, screaming out in the middle of Western Australia night after night, begging God to take the headwinds away. I have never been one to swear, I tried it in primary school but it didn’t seem to suit me so I stopped, but swearing became a natural and daily stress relief for me and as told the winds to (expletive) off so often that I started to think this ride was destroying me as a person and changing my character for the worst. I battled 5 consecutive days of massive headwinds from 100km out of Port Headlands all the way to Perth - over 2000km of a completely dehumanising process that turned me into a madman.
After reaching Perth, we headed into the mountains for a couple of days, where I was able to escape the headwinds. You may not believe it but I would take mountains any day over headwinds. Mountains are a constant, you know what you are in for and there is some form of satisfaction after you have worked your way through them. It was around this time that I took a phone call from a reporter from an online cycling site and the question was asked if I was ready for the notorious Nullarbor Plains; over 1000km of plain lands in which headwinds can make or break any record attempt, be it a Perth to Sydney attempt or an around Australia attempt. I said I was ready, “it can’t be any worse than what I have been through.”
I was really, really hoping for a tailwind across the Nullarbor. I was mentally weak after the beating I took heading down to Perth. Unfortunately for me, there was a strong north easterly that did not change the whole time I was on the Nullarbor. Again, I was driven to the verge of insanity to the point in which with about 650km to go I decided I was not stopping until we had crossed the Nullarbor. I could not handle waking up again to a headwind, so I pushed for over 40 hours straight until my body gave up, but I had made it across the other side into safer territory again. I know my team was very concerned for me at this point, some did not want me to continue but I assured them I would tell them when I am not with it. It was a close call and I would not blame them if they made me stop and rest. But I am glad they did not.
During this ride I found it was the community around me that had formed (both my team and everybody sending encouraging messages to me) that kept me going. It was unbelievable the strength I gained from others. People who simply rang to say “keep going!” or “it is inspiring what you are doing.” These calls made a massive difference and gave me the ability to push on when all I wanted to do was get off the bike.
Now when I look at Philippians 4:13 I have a completely new understanding as to what this means!
At 5:25 am on day 37 I had come out the other side of a journey I never thought would end. I had been able to overcome the depth of pain that felt like it was destroying me. My club WRCC came out in force to meet me and that was one of the highlights of the journey. It was a simple act, but it seemed to mean so much to me because it signalled the end of the journey; but also showed how connected people were as they followed our team around Australia on one epic journey. A lot of friends, family and media were at the finishing point but they had to wait until I could stop the tears from flowing. It was over, we had done it together.
The BIG story in all of this is that as an organisation, we had certain goals we wanted to meet with fundraising and awareness for vulnerable children; we believe we have achieved this. I have just come from banking $16, 131.00 part of the funds raised from returned Simplicity Boxes taking our fundraising tally to around $80, 000. We have a target of K100 and believe over the coming weeks we will come close to this. We were also really surprised as to how engaged people became on this journey in our social media options. Our Facebook page stated with a reach of 400 and ended with a reach of over 40,000! Our hope now is that we might in some way be able to continue to point people towards issues of abject poverty and how they might be able to change the lives of kids who suffer on a daily basis.
Thanks you. What a journey!