Main Image: The 2018 Ride for Compassion riders and support crew on Nobby’s Beach, Newcastle after their coast to coast journey (supplied). Listen: Event organiser Rodney Olsen talks about the 2021 ride.
In October of 2018 a group of cyclists quietly rolled into Newcastle, eventually pulling up at Nobby’s Beach just near the mouth of the Hunter River.
The peace of that Tuesday morning was shattered as the 24 riders charged down the beach toward the surf, some with bicycles in hand before plunging into the ocean.
This was no normal bike ride, but one that had begun in Perth a month before. The group had covered the Australian continent from coast to coast; that’s just on 4,300 kilometres, leaving from Cottesloe Beach, and averaging around 150 kilometres per day.
Led by Rodney Olsen, the Ride for Compassion wound up raising over $360,000 for the Christian child sponsorship and humanitarian aid organisation Compassion. The event also saw 93 children sponsored, as the team, which included a support crew of nine, shared the message of Compassion with churches and community groups along the way.
This wasn’t Rodney’s first time crossing Australia under his own steam; the keen cyclist has made the journey a staggering six times! He told 96five that although he loves the vastness of the outback, he loves riding for a bigger purpose.
“I love being out there in the middle of nowhere, but what I love more is raising money for the causes we ride for. On the Ride for Compassion it’s not so much about the bike, although there certainly is a lot of cycling involved, it’s about the children that we serve who are living in extreme poverty.”
“There’s also a great opportunity to create friendships and that’s one of the highlights of every ride. There are also opportunities to make friendships along the way as you stop in little communities and that has also been inspiring to the riders on the journey.”
With the Ride for Compassion returning in September 2021, now is the time for keen cyclists to start considering if the bucket list trip is something they’d be willing to undertake. Rodney said that riders would need to start preparing for such a challenge this year.
“People need plenty of time to train, as well as some of the fundraising that’s involved. They’ll need to build up the kilometre’s on the road to get themselves ready physically, emotionally and spiritually as they prepare to do this epic journey right across the country.
Compassion Australia is well known around the country for their support of children in developing countries. The 2021 Ride for Compassion will see vital funds raised for some of the most vulnerable children living in extreme poverty.
“Every child living in poverty is vulnerable but some are at more risk than others. There are those at risk of trafficking, and those with a long term illness and the funds raised will specifically help them. They’re the sorts of children that are extremely vulnerable at the moment and we want to make a difference in their lives.”
So if you’d like to get that bucket list transcontinental crossing ticked off your bucket list and raise funds for the world’s neediest kids you can register now at the Ride for Compassion website. If you don’t fancy doing the crossing by bike, but want to offer practical help to the riders a support team will also be out on the road.