On the 26th February 2022, Stephen Jones will depart from Cronulla on a 5,300 km cycling trip to raise money for research into Motor Neurone Disease.
From Stephen's first trip: somewhere between South Gundagai and Wantabadgery
Motor Neurone Disease - also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s Disease - is a degenerative illness which attacks the neurons that control movement, affecting limbs, speech, and breathing. As a terminal disease with no known cure, the average lifespan of someone diagnosed with MND is 27 months from diagnosis.
After two of his high school teachers passed away from the disease, Stephen decided that he would put funds raised towards FightMND, an Australian charity at the forefront of funding research into finding treatments and a cure for Motor Neurone Disease.
Stephen had the idea to do a charity ride at the end of 2014, after attending a travel expo and meeting a rider who had cycled from London to Auckland for the Heart Foundation. The upcoming ride will actually be his third in support of FightMND after he completed similar rides in 2017 and 2020 as well as an abandoned ride in 2019 due to injury.
The planned route will cover a total of 5,300 km, with an average of 80kms each day. It is expected to take around 12 weeks, progressing through New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT. Apart from the second week, where he’ll be joining up with Pedal Cure 4 MND, a group of around 70 riders cycling for the same charity - the ride will be solo and fully self-supported, with Stephen carrying all necessary items such as clothes, repair tools, spares and cooking equipment.
The planning for Stephen’s ride has not been without complications.
Due to the ride crossing state borders, the route has undergone a lot of changes over the last seven months due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The original route was from Fremantle to Bondi until Western Australia restricted entry. It was then changed to Cronulla to Fremantle, which was quickly scuppered by Sydney’s lockdown. Stephen then decided to switch to an international route - Manchester to Rome - and booked flights to Europe, before restrictions were again enforced in Europe. Since then, Stephen has settled on his final 5,300 km route which starts and ends at South Cronulla Beach and travels through New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT. His route map can be seen at the following link: https://www.rtw.bike/route/catb2022.
The planned route
Apart from the travel restrictions, the mental challenge has also been an aspect. Stephen has been affected by the pandemic: “Lockdown killed off a lot of motivation and I hadn’t been out on too many rides since. But motivation is on the way up again, and I can’t wait to get going,” he said. On expected difficulties, he comments “I’m sure there will be challenges, but you must approach them as exactly that – challenges to be solved and not let them frustrate you.”
Peter McLean, CEO of Bicycle NSW echoes these statements, commenting: “By using his passion for bicycle riding to support the fight against Motor Neurone Disease, Stephen is an incredible inspiration to us all. Riding 5,300 km isn't an easy task but the knowledge of the positive impact he is having on so many people will help Stephen overcome all challenges which face him. We all wish Stephen a safe and enjoyable journey.’
You can support Stevens ride in a multitude of ways: by donating here , or by providing personal support via PayPal. You can also follow his progress and route here, which will begin updating on the 26th. If you are interested in riding long distances, we recommend becoming a Bicycle NSW member to benefit from comprehensive rider insurance.