Natasha Johnson

Letting go of the handlebars

So, here we are, five days out from The Tassie Challenge. I spend the majority of my time at the moment fluctuating between excitement, sheer terror, panic and rationality. The latter, sadly, doesn’t get much of a look-in. 

There’s not much that I enjoy more than being out on my bike. After the ride in 2009 from Brisbane to Canberra, I would not have said that. I was ready to sell the bike, thankful for the life-changing, muscle-crunching, friendship-building adventure, but fairly sure I’d done the job. I was ready to commit to supporting Eagles Wings in a less outrageous way.

Almost three years later to the day, after coming off my beloved old clunker in a spectacular moment of incoordination (apparently “uncoordination” is not a word?!) I tried to smile (after the lovely folk at the Mater had cleaned up the cake of blood on my face and plastered my hand) and get on with it. I confess though that I was pretty devastated – not being able to drive or get on my bike was going to put a small dint in my slightly ridiculous routine of working full-time, planning for Tassie and training to ride in the event. Then again, from my perspective, they were fairly minor injuries, so surely it was nothing to worry about. 

Unwilling to relinquish control of work, training or planning, I tried to continue to do it all,  convincing myself that my manic routine would not be difficult to maintain. Bit of surgery in between – no problem. The gym’s a 38 minute walk from my house, no worries. Surgery? That wouldn’t take longer than a few days to sort out. Groceries? I could carry them home on my head in manner of a strong, Zambian woman. Cooking? How many hands do you need to flip a steak? Housework? Meh. Resting and letting myself recover – who needs to do that?! 

Believe it or not, it honestly took me the better part of four or five weeks to recognise the lunacy behind this thinking. I cannot describe how I wrestled with feelings of inadequacy with not being able to do it all, when the people I was doing it for face obstacles so much greater on a daily basis. But after my stress levels hit the roof and I realised something had to give in order for me to do anything well, I started thinking about Eagles Wings, about Challenge for Change and the rationale behind creating physically challenging events. The whole idea is to invite people to do take up challenges that they never thought they could conquer to make a difference in the lives of those who face unthinkable challenges every day. My challenge was letting go.

I never thought for one moment that cycling Tassie was going to be easy. But (this may sound slightly sick) I knew it was going to be fun. It was going to be exciting. However, I’ve realising that planning for this event has been a bigger challenge for me, doing something that I never thought I could or would do, with an awesome team. Calling strangers in Tasmania that I had stalked on Google was not easy. Learning how to maintain a website has been really out there for a technologically inept person like me. Losing sleep over words in our terms and conditions, booking forms and support letters - I’m so thankful for it. Asking for and letting people help me, relinquishing control – these have been my challenges. Good has come out of my split second of incoordination.

I’m thankful for the challenge that has certainly changed me, given me some insight into how I live my life, and highlighted the need for change in my heart. The planning's not quite finished yet and is far from perfect. However, it’s given me the opportunity to do something I never thought I could do for those overseas whom I love. Tassie participants – I can’t wait to see the same thing happen to you.

My bike’s staying home next week, and that’s okay. It’s been a privilege working with the riders, ground crew, the CFC team, the Boss, Reid, Claire, the generous Tassie folk and everyone who has contributed to our planning and to the current fundraising total of $48 380. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my challenge, I hope you do too. Let’s catch a plane.

Hobart: Pre-ride.
It's all about the bike.....somewhat....
  • $795,000
  • Raised since 2008
  • 9
  • Countries cycled
  • 479
  • Participants
  • 34,700
  • Kilometres cycled