Talking about a very big ride

I’ve been on my bike a bit more recently. I need to get fit. There are big plans ahead.

For just over three years I’ve been working for Compassion Australia in our Western Australian office. We run an annual fundraising ride of just over 500 km named Ride for Compassion, but next year we’re taking on a much bigger challenge with a ride from Perth, Western Australia to our head office in Newcastle, New South Wales.

The Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast will be a huge event that will make a major impact for children living in extreme poverty. We’re now at the point of wanting to attract suitable riders and support crew who would be happy to raise significant funds as well as undertake such an epic venture.

The ride will start on Saturday the 15th of September 2018. We will arrive at Compassion’s head office in Newcastle, NSW on Tuesday the 16th of October, having cycled over 4000 km. There’ll be 28 riding days and 4 rest days. The average riding distance for those riding days will be 150 km. Our longest day will be just under 200 km.

I have quite some experience with the ride aspect of the trip having cycled across Australia five times previously but knowing that this time will be in support of Compassion is an extra thrill for me.

I recently had the opportunity to return to my old workplace, Perth’s Christian radio station 98five, and be interviewed by longtime colleague and friend JD, about both our annual ride and next year’s Coast to Coast event.

You can hear our chat by clicking the play button on the audio player below.

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A Day for Australia and India

It’s a little bit cool in Dehli today. The forecast is for a maximum of 18 degrees and a few thunderstorms. I’d be keen to take that over Perth’s forecast 40 degrees today.

There’s another reason I wouldn’t mind being in India today.

While in Australia millions will be celebrating Australia Day, half a world away India will be celebrating their 68th Republic Day. I like the fact that I get to celebrate two countries that I love on the same day. I don’t know if it will ever happen but one year I’d love to be in India for Republic Day.

Though India became a free nation on August 15, 1947, it declared itself a Sovereign, Democratic and Republic state with the adoption of the Constitution on January 26, 1950.

A salute of 21 guns and the unfurling of the Indian National Flag by Dr. Rajendra Prasad heralded the historic birth of the Indian Republic on that day. Thereafter 26th of January was decreed a national holiday and was recognised as the Republic Day of India.

The Constitution gave the citizens of India the power to choose their own government and paved the way for democracy. Dr. Rajendra Prasad took oath as the first President of India at the Durbar Hall in Government House and this was followed by the Presidential drive along a five-mile route to the Irwin Stadium, where he unfurled the National Flag. – Know India

I’ve had the privilege of visiting India three times over several years. It’s a truly amazing place. While I’ll be celebrating at home today I’ll be thinking of friends in India.

I wrote recently about the first of my three adventures in India. It’s an incredible country and I do hope that one day I’ll get to visit again.

Below is a video of that first trip to India in 2003. I was joined by several locals to ride from Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, to Delhi, as well as cycling around Delhi. I was there as a guest of the Bible Society. It’s just a short video and I hope you enjoy watching it.

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Next Year’s Massive Challenge

Back in September last year, I wrote that it’s been way too long since the last time I cycled across the Nullarbor. It was in 2003 when I rode from Perth to Hobart. That ride seems almost a lifetime away from the first of my five crossings back in 1987. As I’ve said before, I’ve cycled across Australia in my twenties, my thirties and my forties. I’m now in my fifties and I’d love to undertake another crossing. (The photo above is of the cliffs that overlook the Great Australian Bight; an absolute highlight of each ride.)

I’ve taken part in dozens of rides throughout Western Australia and even a couple on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I’ve cycled in Canada and India and even ridden up and down one of the aisles in a K-mart in Miami, Florida, but none of those rides compares to pushing the pedals for thousands of kilometres to cross our wide, brown land.

It Just Got Real

Well, here we are at the start of a brand new year and I’m starting to feel like things just got a bit more serious. Up until a few days ago, I would point way off into the future to a possible 2018 ride from Perth, Western Australia, to Newcastle, New South Wales. While details are still being sorted out, the ride has been confirmed for 2018 and we’re now in 2017. That means that God willing, I’ll be cycling across Australia next year.

Next Year?

Sounds a bit scary when I look at it like that. There’s so much to do. There’s a lot of organising to happen between now and September 2018 when we pedal out of Perth. Everything from pulling together a team of cyclists to arranging a support crew, accommodation, itineraries and much more. There are a thousand little details that need to come together to make such a venture work. Especially when the plan is to have around 20 riders on the road. I’d love to build that team with cyclists from all over Australia and even perhaps some international riders.

I also need to get fit. Really fit.

I used to keep a moderate level of fitness by cycling to and from work each day but my job hasn’t really allowed me to do that for the last three years. Over the next twenty months, I need to get myself into better shape than I have ever been. I’m going to have to be strategic and focused if I’m to drop a bunch of kilograms and put plenty of kilometres into my legs. I’ll need to be able to ride around a thousand kilometres a week for just over four weeks.
Taking part in the ride will take a huge effort.

I’ll certainly keep everyone up to date with the ride details. It’ll be raising funds for Compassion to help in the work of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. And if you’d like to register interest in joining me, head to the Ride for Compassion website and click on the Coast to Coast 2018 link.

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Christmas 2016

Is it still Christmas Eve 2016 where you are? Here in Perth it’s already well and truly Christmas Day. (We like to get an early start on the festivities.)

I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy day as you celebrate Christmas wherever you are in the world. You may be experiencing a cold or even a white Christmas, but here in Perth, Western Australia, we have a hot summer day forecast. It won’t be as hot as some previous years but we’ll still be up around 32 degrees Celsius which is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s a little strange that a lot of our Christmas songs still talk about snow and how cold it is. I can always agree with the first line of ‘Let it Snow’ when it says, “The weather outside is frightful.” There’s a bit of a disconnect after that but it can be frightful when the mercury heads up towards 40 (104 Fahrenheit) as it does at this time of year.

As you celebrate this year, remember to pace yourself throughout the day so that you don’t regret it all tomorrow. Also, don’t forget to take time out to reflect on what Christmas is truly all about.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

We went to a Christmas Eve service at church last night. It was a delight to be part of a simple yet profound time of remembering what this day means. We’ll be catching up with family for a big Christmas lunch which is likely to spread into the evening.

I’d really love to hear how you’ll be celebrating. Please leave a comment or two to let me know.

What are your Christmas traditions? How will you be spending this day?

A day of mixed emotions.

I know that Christmas can also bring sadness as we think about those that aren’t around the table this year. It’s been many years since we’ve shared Christmas with my dad and even longer since mum was around. They’ll be missed once again. For some people, it’s the first year without someone close. Sometimes, as in my case, it’s because that person has passed away, yet for others it can be a breakdown in relationships that will leave an empty chair this Christmas.

Whatever your situation, my prayer is that the joy of Christmas and what it means will still break through into your life on this special day.

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Soundtrack of My Life – Aussie Jingle Bells

Soundtrack of my Life This is one of a regular series of articles highlighting some of the music that has played a part in my life. You’ll find a range of songs from old to new. Whether it’s the lyrics, the music, a time in my life, or a combination of reasons, the songs in my soundtrack are part of who I am.

If you take a good look you’ll probably find music that has been part of the soundtrack of your life too. You can also check out some of the other songs that make up the soundtrack of my life.

Aussie Jingle Bells – Bucko & Champs

In a country where Christmas Day is generally somewhere between hot and scorching, it seems odd that we still listen to so many Christmas songs about snow and trying to stay warm in the cold weather. The imagery on Christmas cards, on our decorations and throughout our shopping centres also reflect a frosty Christmas. Nothing could be further from the truth.

That’s why Aussie Jingle Bells by Bucko & Champs has become such a classic down under. It’s a little closer to our experience of the season and the day.

Bucko & Champs is Colin Buchanan and Greg Champion. Aussie Jingle Bells was just one of the many Christmas songs that got an Australian update on their 1996 album, Aussie Christmas with Bucko & Champs.

Aussie Jingle Bells – Bucko & Champs

Dashing through the bush
In a rusty Holden Ute
Kicking up the dust
Esky in the boot
Kelpie by my side
Singing Christmas songs
It’s Summer time and I am in
My singlet, shorts and thongs

Oh! Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Christmas in Australia
On a scorching summer’s day
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Christmas time is beaut
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a rusty Holden Ute.

Engine’s getting hot
We dodge the kangaroos
The swaggie climbs aboard
He is welcome too
All the family’s there
Sitting by the pool
Christmas day, the Aussie way
By the barbecue!

Oh! Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Christmas in Australia
On a scorching summer’s day
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Christmas time is beaut
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a rusty Holden Ute.

Come the afternoon
Grandpa has a doze
The kids and uncle Bruce
Are swimming in their clothes
The time comes round to go
We take the family snap
Pack the car and all shoot through
Before the washing up

Oh! Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Christmas in Australia
On a scorching summer’s day
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Christmas time is beaut
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a rusty Holden Ute.

(And if you’re not from Australia, it might help you to know that ‘thongs’ are a kind of footwear down here.)

I’d encourage you to get involved too. Let me know about some of the songs that are etched in your mind. What are the tunes that bring back a flood of memories every time their opening notes start cranking out on your stereo? Are there songs you love for their music and others that speak deeply through their lyrics?

Do you have a favourite Christmas song? Do you have a favourite artist at Christmas time? I’d love to hear about what you listen to at Christmas time each year.

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