TourXOz 2017 - Day 1
KJR’s General Manager ACT, Andrew Hammond, is cycling 2,500km from Perth to Broome with TourXOz in support of the Black Dog Institute. For the second year running, KJR is sponsoring the event committed to raising awareness and much needed funds for research into mental illness and suicide prevention. In this post, Andrew shares his thoughts after a grueling first 24 hours on the road.
DAY 1 - Perth to Geraldton
What a 24 hours; with much of it spent reflecting on the journey we’re undertaking and why we’re doing it.
Unfortunately, Mum has been a guest at Royal Perth Hospital for the last 24 hours but they’ve treated her well. To see Mum in the hospital bed was confronting but what was more confronting was listening to the conversation in the bed next to her. I can’t remember the fellow's name but he was not in a good way. His son arrived and the ensuing conversation went like this; "How does your father look - better or worse than last time you saw him?” “I don’t know, we’ve been estranged for a while.” The Doctor went on to discuss with the son that he’d spoken with his sister about their father’s resuscitation order. The Doctor said the decision would be a joint one between the family and medical staff, and, in his current condition, the medical staff would prefer to let nature take its course instead of prolonging the suffering. The son acknowledged the discussion and went to confer with his sister.
I’m not sure how the story ended, but I'm sure there’s many a missed conversation the son wished he had now that his father is nearing the end of his time with the rest of us. In my mind, I was thinking of all the times I wished I could have one more conversation with the loved ones that have been taken by the Black Dog; but that's usually not possible. The Black Dog just strikes and that’s it. No more conversations, just endless thoughts of what ifs and maybes. Today we all rode for those that have departed, those left behind and those that are suffering in silence now.
To those people who are suffering, we encourage you to reach out and draw strength from those around you. I met a fellow on the ride who’s wife has been suffering silently from depression for many years. Since he committed to joining the TourXOz ride, she’s stopped hiding her illness and has shared her story in the local press with the aim of encouraging all those that suffer to seek help.
One of the other riders in our group was struggling to peddle up a hill as he’d never ridden more than 100kms before today’s ride. As I was getting to know him, I asked him how he found out about the ride. He replied that “Some of the guys I treat spoke so highly of the 2015 ride that I knew I had to do it." As the conversation progressed, I asked why he joined the ride and he said “Because I lost my daughter to suicide 6 years ago”. I was so impressed by the strength of this man to come on the ride and push his limits to the max while carrying that emotional burden, Wow, just wow. Every time he looked like he needed a bit of help getting up the hills, I reached out and gave him a little bit of assistance. I drew strength from his resolve and helped him convert that into physical power in the legs and together we made it. 118kms later and we had Day One in the bag.