Eight months and 14,000km on a pushbike
JOHN Flower of Hastings Point has done what many people would consider almost impossible.
He has ridden a bicycle around Australia.
Not a bad feat for anyone, but an amazing accomplishment for a 71-year-old.
Mr Flower's bicycle infatuation began when his son Hugh, who owns a bike shop in Sydney, got talking about the Big Bike Ride from Tweed Heads to Sydney to raise money for multiple sclerosis research.
That was a few years ago. Mr Flower completed the Sydney ride successfully, then followed it up with another long ride from Sydney to Southport for the Kids Off The Streets program.
Confident he had hit his stride, he then set his mind to the round-Australia ride, starting last May. He arrived back at his Hastings Point unit yesterday after covering about 14,000 kilometres, averaging 80 kilometres a day with an average speed of about 12kph.
Mr Flower, who used to run a tourist farm in the Tweed hinterland with wife Annette, did not have a support team for his epic trip.
His wife joined him at stopovers including Broome and Melbourne. Apart from that he was on his own, often camping under the stars, but he didn't get lonely.
"I was very interested in the culture and history of northern Australia, so it was just fascinating," Mr Flower said.
"There was a lot of time for thinking, I ended up solving all the world's problems.
"The mind just gets divorced from the body, the legs were going around automatically after a while. It made me realise what a small place the world is, if you can ride a bike around Australia."
He said the worst stretches of his ride were from Orbost in eastern Victoria to Sydney, because of the hilly terrain and a lot of wind, and riding into Perth in traffic.
- ED SOUTHORN