Dave's 2000km journey for Beyond Blue
IT doesn't take long for Dave Edwards to set himself a new challenge.
In September, he was competing at the Rio Paralympics and finishing on the podium. Now he's riding solo up the Queensland coast to raise funds for Beyond Blue.
The Queensland cyclist, who grew up in Atherton and now lives in Brisbane, set out on the Reef Ride for Beyond Blue on Friday morning and today reached Rockhampton.
He said the Reef Ride, which totals about 2000km when you factor in back roads, was in honour of his mum who tragically took her own life just over two years ago.
"It all stems back to just over two years ago when my mum took her life. It is dedicated to her in a way," Dave said.
"Just after my mum passed away I was up in Atherton for training and I rode from Atherton to Townsville in a day.
"I left at 4am, it was completely dark, and ended up at Townsville on the strand at 6pm. It was 12 hours of riding and two hours of stops so that was a bit of a taster.
"I have a lot of family on the coast and there are a lot of memories in that stretch of highway for me. I remember driving down with my mum from Atherton when I moved to Brisbane. For Queensland Titles and carnivals we used to drive down to Rocky and Brisbane all the time. So there are a lot of memories for me.
"I have always wanted to do this ride. It's such a crazy thing and I'm all about doing crazy rides so I thought I may as well do it for a good cause.
"It will be an amazing ride and an amazing adventure."
The challenging adventure comes off the back of a very successful year on the bike for Dave, with the 23-year-old having recently returned from the Rio Paralympics where he won a bronze medal with visually impaired Australian cyclist Kieran Modra.
"I never planned to go to south America. The coach said all you have to do is win the nationals and the world championship and then you can go to the paralympics," he said.
"In March, we won the world championship for the 4km pursuit so Kieran and I went to the paralympics and went into the track events as reigning world champions.
"There was a lot of pressure going into the track events and we expected to get a medal but we were blown out of the water. It was a combination of having a bad day and everyone else having a ripper day.
"So when we finished the time trial on the road and were told we had the third best time, we thought 'whatever, we did our best, we can't change it now' and then they said, 'no you have won a bronze medal'.
"We couldn't believe it. After the disappointment of missing out on something we thought we deserved, the bronze medal actually felt like a gold. It was really special."
Not one to sit around twiddling his thumbs, Dave said he started planning for what he'd do after the paralympics around June.
"That's when I came up with the idea for the Reef Ride," he said.
"I am doing it over 10 days and have organised stops. I am stopping in Noosa, Maryborough, Miriam Vale, Rocky, Mackay, Airlie Beach, Townsville and a stop over in Cardwell before Cairns and Atherton.
"I have been in touch with clubs along the way and hopefully there will be support there.
"The biggest worry is dehydration. The biggest safety net I have is a having a support driver and he will have lots of food and water. I have a support driver who is an old friend from Atherton. I should be okay until the Rocky-Mackay ride which is a lot longer. It will be interesting to see what happens after then."
Dave will leave Rockhampton for the 336km trek to Mackay from the Kalka Palms Hotel at 5.30am tomorrow. Anyone who wishes to ride with him from the Kalka Palms to the outskirts of Rocky is welcome to do so.
Anyone suffering mental health issues should call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or head to www.beyondblue.org.au.