Cross country cycling for a cause worth riding for
Riding non-stop from Perth to Brisbane on single speed bicycles
When a group of people work together to achieve a feat that stretches the boundaries of human potential a natural bond is formed. This bond arises out of vulnerability. As the journey and challenge makes each individual realise that they cannot endure without the aid of the people around them. They are forced to face a reality where they are not in control. Where they are not the centre of the universe. That they need to rely on others in a way that is not common in Australia. We are brought up to be individuals, an island onto ourselves, we are taught not to rely on others as that may leave us behind. This has made genuine communities a rarity. Gone are the days when we moved as a pack. An old African proverb states “if you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. Have we lost our ability to go far? Can we ever be in a situation where we are at the mercy of the people around us? If we could travel in this state of togetherness how far could we really go? From my recent experience the answer is around 4,500km in just over 7 days. But, the destination was nothing compared to the journey.
When I was first contacted by Reid Anderton about his desire to ride Atma bicycles from Perth to Brisbane non-stop, I was amused and excited. I thought it sounded impossible but I was not going to stand in his way. Reid wanted to achieve a handful of goals along the way; one, he wanted to raise money for his charity Eagles Wings which operates out of Zambia educating street children; two, he wanted to raise awareness for Atma Cycles, which is my not-for-profit social enterprise that sells single speed bicycles here in Australia to fund bicycles we provide to schoolgirls in India, so that they can get the education they deserve. To accomplish these goals Reid wanted to take a team of four riders from Perth to Brisbane, riding single speed bikes non-stop in a relay format. This worked in the same way any relay race does; someone always has to be moving on the bike with the baton. In our case the baton was a GPS tracker.
Reid’s all-star team consisted of a teacher from the Eagles Wings school in Zambia, Kelvin, whose only significant training was riding 30 minutes to and from the school on his daily commute. The Head of Junior School at Faith Lutheran College, Eloise Beveridge, whose claim to fame is riding a bicycle to her wedding in a full wedding gown! The Chaplain of Livingstone Christian College, Andrew Hellinga who happens to be the world record holder for riding backwards the furthest (337.6km) in 24 hours and Reid himself, a humble Carpenter at the GenBuild Group. None of these riders were coming off the back of a season in the Alps, none of them had ridden the Tour de France. Reid’s longest training ride before the event was close to 34 km’s! Luckily for them they had a support team that professionals can only dream of; the line-up included Sarah Day, Laith Beveridge, Graham Hedges, Natalie Campbell and Dan Brown. Along for the fun was film maker extraordinaire Samantha Hawker of Exchequer Productions and me, Alex Carpenter – technically the ‘assistant cameraman’ but more accurately ‘the one who drove the car’.
When I first signed up for this trip I was thinking it would be a lovely holiday. Plenty of camp fires, board games and relaxation. What I ended up getting was not one camp fire, not a single board game and instead of relaxation I had a large dose of sleep deprivation instead. Who would have thought travelling 4,500km non-stop would be so difficult? This trip took it out of everyone! I had the easiest job by far and I was wrecked. Whether it was the late night drives to leap frog ahead of the rider in order to grab a couple of hours of sleep. Only to be woken at the crack of dawn needing to race down the road to catch up again. Or the 80km per hour head winds the riders needed to endure. Or the various hills the riders needed to conquer on single speed bikes. Or the kangaroo dodging at dusk. It was a bigger challenge then any of us had expected and the only way we made it was relying on each other. We could only travel so far because we had each other to lean on when our own abilities failed us. The sense of community that we created allowed each of us to be vulnerable, weak and broken at various points throughout the trip. That was the unexpected result. The real result though was raising over $43,000 for street children in Zambia. This trip was meant to be a challenge for everyone, it was meant to push the boundaries of what we thought was humanly possible. That was because the pain and suffering we endured for those days is but fraction of what a lot of people have to go through every day. It is too easy to forget the challenges people face in this world, it is too easy to remove yourself from the cruel realities that are around us. It is also too easy to forget about a sense of community; the ability to show weakness and vulnerability and be helped up by those around you. When we work together and fully give ourselves over to the group we can accomplish truly incredible feats.
Alex is a serial social entrepreneur, he founded Atma Cycles back in 2014 and is always thinking and planning for new businesses that serve those in need. Nearly all of his work experiences come from self-employment and feels most at ease when there is an insurmountable task at hand.
Samantha Hawker – Photographer
With a background in print journalism and set design, Samantha now specialises in producing creative visual content for a variety of clients. Mixing her formal training in media communications and fine art, Samantha has an appreciation for the storytelling element of creative marketing. She works with her clients in developing brand identity and delivers high-quality content that is a fresh mix of artistic shots, Terry Gilliam style cut-out animation and some seriously sharp drone footage. Her clients include Gourmet Traveller Wine, Concrete Playground, James Squire, Artbank, True Local, Secret Garden Festival, Inside-Out Magazine, Bicycle Network, The Lord Gladstone & Sky-lab.