Cycling from Adelaide to Darwin (3000km) is shorter than Perth to Sydney (4000km) so it must be the easy route. Or is it? The Perth to Sydney route is a more familiar route for cyclists while the Adelaide to Darwin route is for self-proclaimed crazy people. I am about to become on of those crazy group when I join the TourXOz this year; a road cycling / peloton style bunch of cyclists commencing the eight day trip on October 3 to raise money for charity.
The TourXOz started in 2010 with 8 cyclists riding from Perth to Sydney. In 2103 this increased to 35 riders and in 2015, 63 riders will ride the TourXOZ from Adelaide to Darwin. As a charity ride, the beneficiary is the Black Dog Institute which diagnoses, treats and prevents mental illnesses. Mental illness and suicide often stands in the shadows compared with physical diseases, but suicide is the number one killer of young adults aged between 18 and 40 in Australia so this deserves far more attention.
I am joining 62 riders on tour, some who first started riding this year, in raising funds and awareness for the Black Dog Institute. The trip takes us through central Australia, up the Stuart Highway (87) with a detour to Uluru and will present the opportunity to raise awareness for mental health issues among the rural and indigenous communities.
The charity event has fantastic support from commercial supports including Santos, Toll, Telstra and G Brothers Mercedes Benz, along with individual fundraising of each cyclist, the $250,000 fundraising goal has been exceeded. As a group we are seeking to reach $300,000 to make this the biggest community driven fundraising event for the Black Dog Institute.
You could argue that the riders have it easy – dressed in lycra on our race bikes and riding in peloton style, we will have support vehicles front and back, access to food and water along the way and comfortable beds for overnight rest stops. This is a big difference to the touring cyclists who carry their own supplies and sleep outdoors, though our TourXOz group will complete 150km each day at higher speeds meaning that the training and preparation is vital.
Christopher Jones taking part in the TourXOz, cycling from Adelaide to Darwin
I have been training for months, cycling six out of seven days each week. We will face extreme temperatures, wind and dust plus the aches and pains from the physical exertion. But this is also an opportunity to do something completely different, to visit new places and simultaneously raise funds for a worthy cause. Beyond training, I have put a lot of of thought into my equipment such as getting arm warmers with UV protection, opting for low profile wheels rather than deep profile aerowheels in anticipation of heavy cross-winds and getting my bike into tip-top condition.
With less that two weeks until the start, it has already been a mix of joy and sacrifice. Joy in meeting other riders and training with them and learning about the actual value of our fundraising from the Black Dog Institute. Some of the Northern Beaches Sydney riders who I now train with are in the main photo (top). In comparison my sacrifice may appear mediocre, cutting short my sleep and leaving the comfort of bed for early morning training or the hours spent on the home trainer while managing niggling health issues. The hard part hasn’t started yet, so let me report back after I am finished.
If you can spare $5 or $100, it helps make a difference: TourXOz Donation Page