Rupert Guinness is riding 4,900 km in 12 days for mental health awareness

The veteran cycling journo is on the road now and making his way south.

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Aussie cycling journalist Rupert Guinness is no stranger to really long bike rides. He’s ridden 5,500 km across Australia as part of the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, he’s ridden 24-hour races, and he’s done the Virtual Race Across America (VRAAM) – 280 km a day on an indoor trainer for 12 days. Today, the 59-year-old embarks on yet another audacious challenge.

Early this morning Rupert set off from Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory and started riding south. Ahead of him: a 4,900 km route that will take him to the southern coastline of the Australian mainland, then across Bass Strait for a final leg to Hobart. He’s hoping to complete the entire journey in just 12 days – an average of more than 400 km a day – riding around 20 hours per day with a few sleep breaks along the way.

Rupert isn’t just doing the ride to challenge himself, although it certainly will be a challenge – his ‘Power of the Pedal’ ride is all about generating awareness for mental health. As he wrote in his book ‘Overlander’, which documented his attempt to ride across Australia as part of the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, Rupert has long suffered from bulimia and other mental health concerns. 

“So really there are twofold reasons for doing this,” Rupert told Kieran Pender at The Guardian. “The first is, I would have been doing Race Across America if it wasn’t for the COVID restrictions, so this is good preparation for next year. And secondly, why I do all of this endurance cycling in the first place, is to have a platform to raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing.”

Rupert’s Darwin to Hobart ride starts with a 1,690 km south-bound section on the Stuart Highway into Australia’s red centre. From there he’ll take a detour of just over 500 km to visit Uluru, before rejoining the Stuart Highway to continue south to Port Augusta, South Australia.

He’ll skirt around the Adelaide hills before making his way into Victoria and joining up with the iconic Great Ocean Road. From Melbourne he’ll take the Spirit of Tasmania ferry across Bass Strait to Devonport. Once in Hobart, Rupert will finish his epic ride with the tough, 21 km ascent of Mount Wellington. “Tasmania is stage 21 of my own Tour de France,” he told The Guardian. “And Mount Wellington is the Champs-Élysées.”

As with his Virtual RAAM last year – and with the actual RAAM when he gets there – Rupert will be ably supported over the next 12 days by a dedicated support crew. In total he’ll have an eight-person team following him, including his wife Libby. SBS TV’s long-time cycling reporter Mike Tomalaris is also on the road with Rupert, following Rupert’s progress.

We wish Rupert all the very best in this monumental endeavour and hope that COVID restrictions in Victoria don’t hamper his progress! If you’d like to keep up with Rupert as he makes his way south, you can track his movements at Maprogress and follow him on Twitter.

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