Here at Bicycle Buyer we are big believers in the desire for action and adventure; we are almost victims of it, and we whole-heartedly advocate bikes as one of the truest facilitators of this commonly shared desire. Your bike can take you anywhere you want ¬ all you have to to is get on and start peddling, 'And then things start to happen, don't worry. Don't stew. Just go right along. You'll start happening too.'
So, when Bicycle Buyer's friend Greg, affectionately known as Old Dog, set himself the challenge of riding from Melbourne to Rockhampton we wanted to know what his journey was all about.
It all hangs on the first step...
In today's hustle and bustle of life we can suppress the personal challenges that can make us feel alive. To combat that over the years I have participated in marathons, triathlons, both mountain and road bike races and played and coached football for years. For me the thrill of competing in an event has given me a huge adrenaline hit. The atmosphere created by like-minded people nervous about their performance and the joy of finishing are addictive.
For some people the challenge may lie outside of competition. Hiking, touring, kayaking, any number of things, we have so many options in our lives. However with all these options sometimes the hardest step is getting started and I am no different.
For a long time before I eventually hit the road I had expressed the desire to go on a long ride to those nearest to me. I came up with numerous excuses as to why I couldn't or shouldn't go before I realised that a ride like this was something that I really wanted to do and the only person stopping it from happening was me. With that clarifying thought I gathered my courage and decided to set the start date, March 16th 2015.
I wasn't always certain about exactly where I wanted to go, I gave serious thought to Europe along with several other possible routes in Australia, but after what I deemed to be enough consideration I mapped out a route from Melbourne to Rockhampton. First heading to Adelaide I was going to make my way up the to Birdsville via the famous Birdsville Track, then on to Longreach as I made my way to Rocky.
After choosing my route I thought the real planning could begin. With my excitement in crescendo I began to tie things up at work, had encouraging talks with my family and went about the enjoyable and educational process of preparing my bike and gear as best as possible (Thanks to Pete from Top Gear Cycles on this front).
As the date loomed I think my mind began preparing to accept the new experiences the road had to offer as, contrary to my the majority of my existence, I began to embrace the new technology, and managed to pack an iPhone, GPS, and a solar panel into my 'tricked up bike'.
In all honesty to say that it was just excitement that I was feeling would in fact be a lie, as I grappled with fear of the unknown in equal measures. I woke up on the day of departure and I found myself thinking 'Whose idea was this? What the hell am I doing?' All that was left for me now was the most important step of all, the first push off the pedal, I sucked in a deep breath and..... off I rolled.
Rolling, rolling, rolling...
It didn't take me to long to adapt to life on the road and realise that a predetermined route wasn't what this trip was all about, so I threw caution to the wind and let the route take care of itself which allowed me to have an experience I wouldn't change for quids.
My journey saw me and my bike travelling 3978km, cutting a zig-zagging path through Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. I had the chance to stay the night in 48 towns and cities, and spend time in many more. I continuously learnt about a wide spectrum of topics like history, agriculture and art, just to name a few. I had nights when I missed my family and wanted to go home, and I had days that I wouldn't have been able wipe the smile of my face if I tried.
I smashed myself on the bike when the time came, crossing rivers and conquering mountains, I rose and fell with the sun and the sounds of the bush. I connected with nature against the backdrop of a vast and powerful landscape that could be relentless and unforgiving. In amongst that I felt a strong rural spirit, that spirit of 'the Country', of community, camaraderie and ingenuity and I found that undeniable spirit in the amazing people people that I met.
I was lucky enough to share my trip with over 100 people along the way. I met farmers, taming the land in admirably laconic style, and Grey Nomads that had travelled hundreds of thousands of kilometres after years on the road. I was looked after by truckies as they rolled past me on often dangerous roads with friendly toots and waves. I met fellow cyclists; touring groups, weekend punters, solo wild men and of course, my favourite bike lovers, kids racing up and down caravan parks, faces etched with pure joy. I had my family and friends come and share the road with me along the way, and I visited family in different areas along the way. I had brushes with death that made me feel alive and I grew as person as I looked deep inside myself to answer questions that arose along the way.
And this is what I found...
We live in an amazing age of opportunity and that if you are harbouring an idea, a passion, a dream, it can be realised. I dreamt up an adventure and I went and found it, I did it my way and let my passion for cycling, travelling and learning guide me all the way. It wasn't always easy but I made it.
I found that being physically absent from home drew my heart closer to my family and I found words to express that to them. I listened and learned from the people I met, and taught and helped people in turn. I learned how to better live in the moment and stay true to myself. I grew stronger both physically and mentally, while getting the chance to ride my bike through some incredible parts of Australia. And I learned to be thankful for what I’ve got and how lucky I am. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.
Most importantly I found out that taking the first step is key to it all, that its never to late. Whatever its is that you dream of doing, however far away it seems, I encourage you to take that first step and let the adventure begin.
'The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.'
Bicycle Buyer would like to thank Greg for sharing this with us and we encourage you to check out his daily blog, to get a day by day account of his journey.