My name is Jack Whelan and this year, on October the 29th I will leave the Grand Hotel in Warrandyte, east of Melbourne on my push bike and make my way through country Victoria, into NSW over to the east coast and work our way up to our final destination, Noosa, arriving on the 10/11/2020
The trip will see us ride up over 13 days, averaging a touch over 155kms per day, slightly more than that of the tour de France (152km per day)
Now some of you might be thinking now why on earth would you want to do such a thing.
I have been battling with that question myself. But honestly, I guess from a selfish point of view, I have always wanted to do something that would be considered outside the realm of achievable for an average joe like myself and then to do it for two incredible charities would make it all the more meaningful.
The charities I have chosen are both very close to my heart. In 2011, at the age of 28 my cousin Robert Burns was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. MS https://www.ms.org.au/ as it is referred to, is a progressive neurological disease that interferes with nerve impulses from the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. As it stands MS currently affects around 25,000 Australians.
Yet, there is no cure for MS although there are several different treatments available to help people live with the disease. Unfortunately for Robert, his MS was aggressive, and the only thing that treatment would offer him was pain relief, Robert’s quality of life decreased rapidly. He started with shaking, struggling to eat and drink and before long he was on crutches and then into a wheelchair. My cousin Robert died at the age of 34, 6 years after he was diagnosed. A much-loved son, friend, brother, uncle, grandson, and cousin. When I am peddling my bike in the middle of nowhere, I will be doing it in honour of Robert, and to all of those who have fought and are still fighting MS. In the hope that the money raised will go towards supporting people and one day being able to cure people of this awful disease.
The second organisation we wish to support as part of our journey north, is a charity doing some incredible work in the mental health space, in particular working in sporting clubs, schools and businesses at a grass roots level, to reduce the stigma around mental health and to give people the tools and strategies to deal with the very real issues that come with depression and anxiety. Ironically, people who are diagnosed with such a disease as MS are often overcome by a wave of depression or anxiety (or both) as a result.
On top of the 2 charities being directly linked. As so many people have, I have had my own battles with mental health. Diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder in early 2017, I understand how crippling and life changing it can be. And just how alone you can feel. It is organisations like Outside the Locker Room https://otlr.org.au/ that is providing our current and future generations with the artillery to deal with mental health and reducing the stigma that still surrounds anxiety and depression.
So, in honour of my family and friends who have been affected by mental health and multiple sclerosis, and in honour of the ones who we have lost. You will all be very much in our thoughts, in our quest to raise as much money and equally as important, awareness around both organisations.
Here is a breakdown of our journey:
Leg 1 –
Melbourne to Mansfield – 165km
Leg 2 –
Mansfield to Albury via Mansfield – Whitfield road – 169km
Leg 3 -
Albury to Gundagai – 177km
Leg 4 –
Gundagai to Breadalbane – 160km
Leg 5 -
Breadalbane to Wollongong – 163km
Leg 6 –
Wollongong to Gosford – 162km
Leg 7 –
Gosford to Bulahdelah – 177km
Leg 8 –
Bulahdelah to Smiths lake – 38km – rest day!
Leg 9 –
Smith’s lake – Kempsey – 175km
Leg 10 –
Kempsey to Arrawarra (Darlington beach holiday park) – 135km
Leg 11 –
Arrawarra (Darlington beach holiday park) to Ballina – 172kms
Leg 12 –
Ballina – 31kms (via Byron bay) - to Beenleigh - 139kms (total) 170kms
Leg 13 –
Beenleigh – Noosa – 185kms
2017kms in 13 days