On this day next year, the 18th of September 2021, I’ll start pedaling from Perth, Western Australia towards Newcastle, New South Wales. Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast will be my second time cycling across Australia for Compassion and my seventh crossing overall. I’ll be riding with around 30 other riders for a common cause.
We will arrive at Compassion’s head office in Newcastle, NSW on Wednesday the 20th of October, having cycled around 4,200 km. There’ll be 28 riding days and 5 rest days. The average riding distance for those riding days will be 150 km. Our longest day will be just under 200 km.
Why would I do such a crazy thing?
For decades, the number of people living in extreme poverty has been falling. There have been huge leaps forward in consigning poverty to the history books. There was still a long way to go but the trajectory was promising.
Then …. 2020. While COVID-19 has affected us all, it has hit the most vulnerable the hardest. The World Bank has estimated that between 71 million and 100 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty due to the pandemic. I find that absolutely heartbreaking but it also motivates me to step in and do something about it. I need to be part of the solution.
This ride is part of my efforts to bring a solution.
If you’d like to support my ride you can do so in two ways.
You can sponsor a child living in poverty.
Sponsorship gives kids safe places to play, the chance to see a doctor when they’re sick, education, and the opportunity to discover Jesus’ incredible love for them.
Sponsor a child. Give them a brighter future so they, and eventually their own children, can live free from poverty.
The other way you can support my ride is by making a direct donation. Your donation will touch the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our world through Compassion’s work.
Every child in poverty is vulnerable, but some children are at risk of the most deplorable situations in the world.
Children whose parents who have left, died, or are unable to provide for them, children exposed to exploitation and children with special needs are highly vulnerable. They often find themselves on the edge of extremely dangerous situations like child labour, gang violence, trafficking, and life on the street.
In the midst of these ongoing difficulties, COVID-19 has had a massive effect on children and their families. Now, more than ever, they need people like you and me to step in and play our part in showing them love, kindness and practical care.
Registrations for the ride close soon but if you’re interested in joining me on a bike or as part of the support team, head to the Ride for Compassion website.
I need to get fit. Really fit.
Over the next twelve 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.
But every effort I make to be part of the ride will be worth it because some things are unacceptable. It’s unacceptable that millions of children are living in extreme poverty. Next year I’ll put my body on the line to do whatever I can to make a difference for as many of those children as I can.
Will you help me give more children a chance to live, dream and hope? Please sponsor a child today or donate through my fundraising page.
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I posted a very similar post to this some years ago and thought it was worth sharing again with a slight update here and there.
Let’s get the conversation going. I want to know about some of the things you’ve experienced that most others haven’t. What are the unique moments of your life?
I thought I’d try to spark things by listing a few things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.
While you may find one or two things on the list that you’ve done I sincerely doubt that you’ve done all twelve. 🙂
I’m hoping that you’ll come up with a few of your own in the comments section of this post. If you’ve done any of the things on my list let me know.
I’ll just list the twelve things and leave it to you. If you have questions about any of the items in the list, feel free to ask.
12 Things You’ve ‘Probably’ Never Done
1. Spent six weeks in court.
It was some years ago and it was quite a high profile case. I had been called on for jury duty for a case that was set down for two to three weeks. Within the first week the judge suggested that things were going really well and we’d probably be all wrapped up in less than two weeks. Then things got complicated.
Six weeks later we finally returned our verdict and our lives could return to normal.
2. Cycled across Australia six times.
It’s been a couple of years since my last Nullarbor crossing in 2018 when I rode from Perth to Newcastle. It seems almost a lifetime away from my first of five crossings back in 1987.
I’ve cycled across Australia in my twenties, my thirties, my forties and in my fifties. I’m currently making plans for another crossing which will start in about 13 months from now. You can find out more about my next crossing (and maybe even join me) by going to the Ride for Compassion website.
1987 – Perth to Canberra
1988 – Perth to Canberra
1990 – Perth to Adelaide
2000 – Perth to Sydney
2003 – Perth to Hobart
2018 – Perth to Newcastle
3. Escaped a country when rioting and looting in the capital became widespread.
I was introduced to the work of Compassion when I was invited to travel to Haiti back in April 2008. We were meant to be there for a little over a week but it was the time of the global financial crisis and subsequently the global food crisis. Families couldn’t afford even the most basic food so after their cries for help to the government fell on deaf ears, they began to riot in the streets.
Roads were barricaded, shops were looted and there were fires across the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Several people died in the riots.
Our small team managed to get out of Haiti under some extremely trying circumstances. It was very difficult getting to the airport and at times we were in very real danger. We finally hooked up with some armed police who escorted us to the airport so that we could leave the country.
You can hear more about our close call in my podcast episode with fellow traveler, Az Hamilton. Just click play on the audio player below.
4. Hand fed an orangutan.
I also got fairly close to a lion, patted a penguin, fed a rhinoceros, had a 1.5 metre snake draped across my shoulders and much more as part of a behind the scenes Zoo experience back in late 2008.
When I say ‘shared a stage’ what I really mean is that we were both on the same stage at the same time. Gorbachev was speaking to an audience and I was carrying his cup of tea.
It was May 1999 and the World Masters of Business was at the Burswood Dome in Perth. Some friends were staging the event and so I not only recorded all the voice overs to introduce the guests, I got to be stage manager on the day.
One of the things Mr Gorbachev requested was that he would have a very hot cup of tea placed on a table off to the side of his lectern. To ensure it was as hot as possible I carried it on just after he had made his way onto the stage.
6. Had my travel documents confiscated in a foreign country.
It was 1992 and I was traveling to Canada to cycle through The Rockies for a week or so. Our flights had been overbooked so instead of going a fairly direct route we had to visit a few extra airports.
It was back in the day that Australians required a visa to enter the US. When we flew into San Francisco and had to clear US Customs, my passport and other travel documents were confiscated. I didn’t have a visa.
I explained the situation and so it wasn’t really a big deal but I did get a big red ‘TWOV’ stamped in the passport. (Transit Without Visa).
All my documents were finally returned a couple of flights later when I stepped off the plane in Canada.
7. Cycled from Agra to Delhi in India.
On my first of three trips to India I traveled by van to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, before starting the ride back to Delhi.
Cycling in India is an amazing experience. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a heart condition but if you’re interested in adventure, start pedaling.
Stormin Norman was another of the speakers at World Masters of Business at the Burswood Dome in Perth. Unlike the other speakers, Norman was back stage well before time. He wanted to hang out with the crew and made sure he introduced himself to everyone. For someone who played such a significant part in the history of our world he was amazingly ‘normal’. He was extremely friendly and seemed to be a genuinely nice guy.
When it was finally time for him to speak, he focused a lot on leading alongside others and having real care for those you lead. From my interactions with him earlier in the day it was obvious that he practiced what he preached.
9. Interviewed 2011 Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans.
I had the honour of interviewing hundreds of people during my years working in radio. I spoke to the famous through to the not so famous and lots in between but some interviews will always be highlights for me. Like the day in 2009 when I had twenty minutes with a cycling hero.
Cadel had just published his biography, Cadel Evans: Close To Flying, and was traveling around Australia on a promotional tour. As soon as I heard he was coming I contacted his publisher and was thrilled when I was told he would be coming to the studio for an interview.
He was quietly spoken and it was obvious that media interviews weren’t his favourite part of the job, but he was gracious and interesting and I got to hang out with a hero.
During my first trip to India I found that a number of engagements had been arranged for me. One of those engagements was preaching on the Sunday morning at the Cathedral. I was so glad that I’d packed my suit.
The cathedral is impressive, inside and out, and is known as among the most beautiful and magnificent churches in India. It’s a part of the Church of North India which is a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
11. Been mentioned in Australia’s Federal Parliament.
It was September 2007 when Stephen Smith delivered a speech regarding the Millennium Development Goals. I was part of a small group representing the Make Poverty History campaign which visited Mr Smith’s office some time beforehand to raise concerns with him.
Our group, gathered from several local churches in Mr Smith’s electorate, were all mentioned by name. Mr Smith finished his short speech to the parliament with this paragraph.
We had a very fruitful conversation, and it was so pleasing to see so many people in the local community in my electorate committed to wanting to see Australia act as a good international citizen, committed from a personal point of view to always trying to ensure that someone who is not as well off as you are gets a helping hand up, and as far as Australia being a good international citizen is concerned, ensuring that Australia is committed to overseas development aid, is committed to the Millennium Development Goals and committed in an international sense to making poverty history for so many developing nations around the globe at the moment.
12. Cycled up and down an aisle at K-Mart in Miami, Florida.
In 2008, on the way to visiting Compassion’s work in Haiti, we stopped in Miami for a night. On the way to the airport we stopped at the local K-Mart so that one of the group could buy some extra clothes.
As we wandered around I noticed the bikes at the very back of the store. I figured that I wouldn’t get another chance like this so I handed my camera to one of the team and then started riding around. I wanted to say that I have cycled in the US. I got the photographic proof and so it’s official.
So there you are. Now it’s over to you.
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Jane’alam Sheikh grew up in Kolkata, India. As a young boy, he saw people starving and suffering in the slums of that city.
The experiences of his youth gave him a heart to make a difference for people living in poverty.
He studied in the UK, graduating from Manchester University with a Masters in Business Administration. He then co-founded Pursuit International, an organization working to empower people restricted by physical and spiritual poverty to pursue a life of hope and purpose.
Jane’ and I spoke about his early life and what has happened since on my podcast, Bleeding Daylight.
You can hear our conversation wherever you listen to podcasts or click the play button on the player below.
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On Bleeding Daylight this week, the story that changed the lives of all those involved.
We hear about Az Hamilton’s escape from a very dangerous situation in a country overtaken by rioting. What Az describes is a shared experience. Az and I lived this dangerous escape together. So this is also my story.
The events we describe happened in April 2008 when Az and I were part of a media trip traveling to Haiti to see the work of Compassion. It was on this trip that both of us decided to do what we could to see more children released from poverty. Both of us ended up working for Compassion as a direct result of the events that unfolded.
Our time in Haiti was not the normal kind of Compassion trip. We faced very real danger at different times but obviously lived to tell the tale, and what a tale it is.
You can listen wherever you find podcasts by searching for Bleeding Daylight or just click play on the player below.
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It wasn’t a physical crash. I didn’t hit anything or fall off my bike. It was a different kind of crash.
Things were going great. I was building up the kilometres on my bicycle, feeling good, but then one day after a ride, I put my bike in its usual place in the garage and that’s where it stayed. I haven’t really been out on my bike for a long time.
All that’s about to change. I’m 15 months away from starting my seventh crossing of Australia by bicycle. I need to reacquaint myself with my bike and with long hours of training.
Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast 2021 will leave Perth on Saturday the 18th of September next year. Over 4,000 kilometres later, on Wednesday the 20th of October 2021, we’ll arrive in Newcastle. We’ll cycle an average of 150 kilometres a day, with some days up around 200 kilometres.
Why am I doing it all again?
While COVID-19 has had significant effects for all of us, I’ve been deeply saddened to hear the estimates of the impact on the poorest people in our world. I heard a friend say that the current pandemic will push back the cause of reducing extreme poverty in our world by 10 years. It’s been estimated that between 40 million and 60 million people will return to extreme poverty. Think about that … between 40 million and 60 million people who had escaped extreme poverty being pushed back into that darkness. I just can’t comprehend that kind of devastation.
I’m riding for those children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in fairly desperate circumstances. I can’t not ride.
Will you help?
We’ve all faced difficulties in this time, but those in poverty don’t have a safe place to isolate. They don’t have any savings stashed away for the tough times. They barely had enough to survive before and now they have nothing.
You can make a very real difference. I’ll do the training. I’ll push my ageing body to do this one more time. Will you contribute to the cause?
I have set a personal target of $25,000. It’s a huge target and I have no idea how to get there, but I know how to ride my bike and I’m hoping and praying that you’ll help me raise funds for the most vulnerable in our world.
Whether you can afford $10 or $10,000, I’m pleading with you to consider donating today through my fundraising page. If you’re in Australia, your donation will be tax deductible. Wherever you are, your donation will save lives.
Please consider the difference you can make in these very difficult times.
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