Going the Distance

It seemed like a strange thing to do for a young man who had never really been interested in any kind of sport. Riding over four and a half thousand kilometres across Australia was surely the domain of fanatical cyclists yet there I was, an overweight guy in my mid-twenties getting ready to pedal from Perth to Canberra with around a dozen other cyclists.

That was thirty years ago.

Thankfully I made the distance and loved it so much I did the same fund-raising ride the following year. Two years after that I cycled from Perth to Adelaide. Some years later I also undertook rides from Perth to Sydney and then from Perth to Hobart.

So far I’ve cycled across the Nullarbor five times.

I’ve tackled the ride in my twenties, thirties and forties but I haven’t attempted it in my fifties. That all changes next year when, at the age of 55, I’ll be back on my bike for another crossing of our wide, brown land. The thought of taking to the roads again both terrifies and thrills me.

So, what’s getting me back on my bike after all these years? For the last three and a half years I’ve been working for Compassion, a Christian international holistic child development organisation.

I’ve visited Compassion’s work in 7 of the 25 developing countries we serve and I’ve met many children living in extreme poverty who are being released from poverty in Jesus’ name. I recall the faces of children like little Ammanuel in Ethiopia as his mother stood in the small room with its dirt floor that is their home.

She told me through her tears that neither of them would still be alive today if it weren’t for Compassion. That compels me to do whatever I can to bring hope to more children.

The Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast will see around 25 cyclists and their support crew travel over 4300 kilometres from Perth, Western Australia to Newcastle, New South Wales. There’ll be 28 days of riding an average of just over 150 kilometres with the biggest days reaching almost 200 kilometres.

There’s no denying that my ageing body won’t find the journey as easy as it did thirty years ago but I’m looking forward to cycling into Newcastle in October next year.

I’m still looking for some team members, both cyclists and support crew, who might like to join me on what will be an amazing adventure. So, if you’re looking to stretch yourself and to make a difference for the most vulnerable people in our world, children living in poverty, get in touch either through my Contact Page, leave a comment on this post, or head to the Ride for Compassion page. Registrations are now open.

Compassion’s programs are delivered in partnership with local churches. These local congregations can best identify the specific needs of children in their community, supporting them through every stage of life, bringing lasting change to their families and communities. While Compassion is a distinctly Christian organisation, they assist children and their families living in poverty regardless of their beliefs, gender or background.

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Pedal it Forward

Jordan and Joel

Jordan Strahan and Joel Stephens are getting ready to cycle almost fifteen thousand kilometres around Australia under the banner of Pedal it Forward.

Their aim is to raise funds for World Bicycle Relief which is a charity dedicated to providing access to bicycles to a range of people in developing countries. The humble bicycle can provide an enormous leap in work productivity, access to healthcare, education and economic development.

World Bicycle Relief is a nonprofit organization transforming individuals and their communities through The Power of Bicycles.

Compared to walking, bicycles represent an enormous leap in productivity and access to healthcare, education and economic opportunities. The simple, sustainable nature of bicycles empowers individuals, their families and their communities.

To accomplish our mission we:

DESIGN, SOURCE & MANUFACTURE rugged bicycles engineered specifically for rural African terrain and load requirements

ASSEMBLE bicycles locally with proper tools and close attention to quality

DELIVER bicycles through Work-to-Own & Study-to-Own programs

ESTABLISH maintenance infrastructure by training local field mechanics

EVALUATE our work through independent studies

COMMUNICATE program results to donors and partners

Jordan and Joel joined me in the studio this morning during my radio program to tell me more about their epic adventure. You can click the play button on the audio player below to listen to our conversation.

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How to Ride

howtorideFrom the first time his feet turned the pedals of his tricycle as a child, Phil Latz was hooked. His racing career started at the age of ten and included four state championships. He also competed internationally in America and Europe.

His involvement in road riding continued when in 1989 he went on to create and publish Australia’s premier cycling magazine Bicycling Australia.

But cycling isn’t just about racing for Phil. He’s a firm believer that bicycles hold the power to bring social change and freedom from poverty. He recently joined me in the studio for my radio program on 98five to talk about two wheels as a way to bring about meaningful change for more than just those who enjoy cycling. You can hear our chat by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

Phil has recently written and published a book titled How to Ride. It’s a great read for those who want the basics of how to begin cycling.

How to Ride starts with advice on basic bicycle terminology, and which type of bicycle is best for each person and use.
Then it moves onto enlighten readers about safe cycling skills and habits. There are also chapters specifically dedicated to cycling for women, cycling with children, how to safely transport bikes in your car, basic maintenance, and more.

How to Ride is definitely not a book for the elite or for hard core racing cyclists, although there is a chapter briefly demystifying the various forms of cycle sport by answering questions such as how the placings of the Tour de France are determined and why those strange track cyclists play cat and mouse at the Olympics.

How to Ride is lavishly illustrated in full colour throughout. There are dozens of photos showing every conceivable type of bicycle and accessory, plus a several series of ‘how to’ photos to demonstrate safe cycling and other basic skills.

How to Ride is written by Phil Latz, who with over 40 years of cycling experience, industry insight and pure unrelenting dedication is the perfect companion to help you start your cycling journey.

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