Jaye travels the extra mile

I have been receiving some amazing feedback from riders since our return from the Ride to the Red Centre and gradually I'll contain some of it in my Blog.

I received the story below from Jaye, our only WA female rider to go the full distance. Jaye is sending out her story to all her supporters as a thank you.

Steve Andrews

Jaye's story

12 month build-up

In a lot of ways there was a 12 month build-up to doing the Black Dog Ride. I met organizer Steve at Suicide Prevention Australia's Public Forum in September 2009, where I made a complete fool of myself by spluttering into a microphone for an agonizing 5 seconds. Thankfully Steve and I shared some biking stories that night. He had just returned from his inaugural solo Black Dog Ride around Australia and was contemplating inviting people to participate in another ride. I was terribly keen on the idea but…

...The end of 2009 was very difficult for me as I'd had a knee reconstruction in October and I was awfully frustrated at being immobile. My mental health deteriorated rapidly and by late December I was in a bad way. In the New Year, with support from Hel, colleagues and friends I linked in with a Psych and a personal trainer (Hayley at absonfitness) to get myself back on track. I was receiving regular updates from Steve about the ride but the closer it came to actually registering for the ride the more I ruminated about potential problems "What if I dropped my bike?, What if I couldn't manage the distances?, How am I going to cope not knowing anyone else?" The ride was a registered event for the Black Dog Institute's "Exercise Your Mood" campaign and that was exactly what I needed to do! With a lot of support and encouragement I registered and started fundraising - thank you all so very much for your generous donations!

At last count we had raised nearly $73 000

Jaye on the Black Dog Ride ride to the Red Centre

Planning, preparing and packing

I spent a lot of time (and money) planning, preparing and packing for the ride (just ask Helen -she was glad when i finally rode out so she didn't have to listen to me talking about it anymore). Viv got new tires, brakes, screen, racks, boxes and a service in preparation.

Monty was really impressed with the new top box but was disappointed he couldn't come along. By sleeping in the top box he gave the ride the honourable ginger cat sign of approval!

About 50 riders took off from Yahava Koffee in the Swan Valley but only 25 or so were going all the way. The first couple of days riding were a little tense but I managed the distance well and loved the landscapes. I managed to hold onto Viv in the strong cross/head winds as we crossed the Nullarbor. The lovely Annmarie lent me her iPod for the journey…I put it on shuffle and ended up listening to a number of mindfulness exercises as I rode across the Nullarbor - very fitting! The Acceptance and Commitment training I had recently done was also beneficial, particularly when I had significant pain in my…!! I soon relaxed into the ride and enjoyed the terrific company.

Lesson #1 - pack your ear plugs.

My first night camping at Madura was a restless night sleep as two blokes from Mt Barker who affectionately became known as the Gnome Brothers for their significant stature, enjoyed profound conversation about the important things in life…beer, vegemite sandwiches and fruitcake! Lesson #1 - pack your ear plugs. Viv just ate up the kilometers and I loved the seemingly endless landscape. It is a surreal experience riding across the Nullarbor…you look right and you see nothing…you look left and you see less but it is totally captivating!

I relished being on the coast at Ceduna. I walked for an hour or so before dinner to remind my legs of their primary purpose then ate dinner standing up to rest the rump. I would have loved to explore a lot more but we had a destination to make. Ceduna to Port August was sublime riding…I may or may not have shed a few tears of joy as the Flinders Range came into view. We met up with the Eastern States riders at Port Augusta then headed up to Coober Pedy through real 'wild west' county, eventually spending a night 6.5 meters underground at the fabulously hospitable Radekas Hotel. Wild horses, bald eagles, brown snakes, emus and meteorites kept me company on the long haul from Coober Pedy to Alice Spring and all too soon I found myself in the Green Centre of Australia… Thanks to the heaviest rainfall in nearly 20 years the West MacDonnell ranges looked nothing like the Albert Namatjira prints that I have. Truly stunning!

I am honoured to have ridden alongside them.

After travelling some 3800km I was very proud to be one of the 85 odd bikes riding into Glen Helen (the only chick to ride all the way). The stories of the riders that were shared at the party provided a powerful reminder of both our vulnerability and our resilience. Depression and suicide was all too familiar to the group that gathered but it soon became very apparent that our tears were indicative of a remarkable strength. This strength was epitomized by an older bloke named Glen who nursed his 1970's Kwaka 900 and his own ailing body all the way from Melbourne. He suffered a terrible fall early on the trip but he was determined to ride all the way in memory of the two sons that he had lost - one to ill health and the other, very recently, to suicide. He did it…with camaraderie and compassion and sheer will…he did it! Glen and blokes like him (Macca, Rod, Steve, Jack, Mike, Dennis, Angry, Keith, John, Roger, George, Kev, Sam, Ross, Ron just to name a few) are the reason we set off on this ride and I am honoured to have ridden alongside them.

The end of the ride came all too abruptly. I felt a strange bond to a group of people who I had met only a week ago and I didn't want to part with them. It rained heavily on my journey out of Glen Helen and kept raining most of the way home. The rain washed away the red dirt and scented the air with a fresh clean smell…all 4000km home!

I enjoyed some bush camping at Lake Hart (40km north of Woomera) and a day of R&R at the quaint little seaside town of Streaky Bay before blissing out on the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. A tough cold rainy night at Border Village prompted my decision to get home a day early so after two long rides and a night in a motel at Norseman I relished the tail wind that pushed me home. It was delightful to be back but as I unpacked Viv I couldn't help but wonder where the next adventure would be…