In a few months from now Aussie Ben Woods is off to break a World Record: “Longest journey by bicycle in a single country” currently held by Prasad Erande who cycled 14,576km in India.
Departing from Sydney and cycling around Australia to the most Eastern, Northern, Western and Southern points plus a detour to the Red Centre of Uluru, it’s a grueling 18,000km+ adventure, all for an incredibly worthy cause.
In 2015 Ben lost his brother Jase to suicide. This trip is more than just a record attempt for Ben, it’s an opportunity to raise awareness on the harsh reality of suicide in Australia, and to help raise funds for suicide prevention.
Ben’s raising funds through his Go Fund Me page: www.gofundme.com/ride-for-jase . Men’s Fitness had a chance to catch up with him earlier this week…
So, who are you?
My name is Ben Woods. I’m 33 years old and I grew up in Sawtell, just south of Coffs Harbour on the Mid North Coast of NSW. My brother Jase and I had a country upbringing and lived in a tight knit community, spending our childhood outdoors: surfing, riding bikes, playing cricket, football and basketball etc. I moved to Sydney when I turned 18 to become a carpenter and a few years later, Jase also made the move. After completing my carpentry trade, I went on to study Cert IV in Building and Construction and am now a Site Foreman for FDC Construction.
Photo: Ben Woods, 33.
Why are you doing this?
Attempting to break a world record is really just a bonus. It was never something I was going after. I decided to attempt to cycle around Australia after I lost my brother Jase to suicide in 2015. He always wanted to travel around Australia, so I decided to do it in his name and show him this country in spirit. I’m hoping this ride will give me the opportunity to share my story, spread the word on mental health, whilst trying to break down the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. We are also aiming to raise $250,000 for the Black Dog Institute to support the work they do in the mental health field. By breaking a world record I realised it would provide a great opportunity to capture the attention of the public and get people talking about this very important issue. Jase also loved a good competition so I’m sure he wouldn’t mind our names going down in history after we break the record.
Photo: Jase and his mates.
Breakdown the attempt for us.
The trip will be over 18,000km. We will travel through every state and territory in the country as well as visiting Uluru. We will visit the most Northerly, Southerly, Easterly and Westerly points of Australia.
On average, I will cycle around 150km per day with a rest day every 4 or so days.
We are very lucky as we have been given a motorhome to use for the 6-month journey thanks to two of our very generous sponsors FDC Construction and Let’s Go Motorhomes. I know I will be very grateful for a cosy place to sleep every night. My wife Kat will also be coming along for the ride and will be my main support person. Kat is also a nutritionist and will make sure I am meeting my nutritional requirements in the lead up to, and during the 6-month journey. Kat will also be responsible for driving the support vehicle and for documenting, filming, and marketing the ride as well as social media management.
My Mum and her partner Lance who will also be joining us at certain points over the 6 months, towing a caravan around for the length of the journey. We also have had a lot of interest from keen cyclists around the country who want to join me on a number of legs.
Have you done anything similar to this type of feat?
No, nothing of this magnitude. However, I did raise money for the heart foundation back in 2009.
I rode behind and alongside the “tour de France” for 10 days.
What does your standard training week involve?
At the moment, I am riding between 300 to 400 kilometers a week. Which equates to around 14 hours in the saddle. Along with this I am trying to keep up my core strength with a bit of cross training and yoga for flexibility.
How will your training change in the lead up to the attempt?
Not much will change. On the trip I am not trying to break any speed records, so the trip will be training in is self. In the lead up with a full time job it is important to not burn myself out.
The only thing I will be trying to do is to test my body by backing up long days in the saddle. So the best time to do this will be on the weekends.
Any past crashes or injuries?
I have hit a parked car before and plenty of stacks while stationary when learning how to use clip shoes. But no, apart from these I have been very lucky.
Do you focus on your nutrition?
As you can imagine I am burning a lot of calories at the moment with over 14 hours of riding a week. I am always hungry! I am eating a lot more than usual. At the moment, I am focusing on ensuring my carbohydrate intakes are sufficient to fuel my energy requirements. My diet usually consists of a lot of wholegrains, fruits and vegetables but in order to get enough carbohydrate to fuel this type of endurance activity I am eating higher proportions of carbohydrate foods such as cereals, breads and pasta.
While I am out on the road I refuel with Endura sports drinks to ensure I keep up my blood glucose levels and avoid dehydration with regular intakes of electrolytes. I also have a few snacks out on the road like muesli bars or fruits to keep me going. During the ‘Ride for Jase’ I will start using Endura glucose gels as I need to be able to last the distance every day. I’m also focusing on getting sufficient protein in order to aid my muscle recovery after each session and so I smashing a lot of smoothies at the moment!
How do you keep motivated to cover the distance?
Fulfilling my brother’s dream to see this beautiful country is all the motivation I need.
But on top of this, I am hoping that this journey might help someone else going through a similar battle. We need to do something; far too many lives are lost and too many families are left devastated by suicide in Australia every day.
Will you listen to music or do anything else to stop getting bored whilst riding?
Yeah music will be a great way to pass the time on those long desert roads, along with audio books.
Tell us more about Ride For Jase, and how can people get involved.
You can support this cause by donating via our website. You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook or on our Youtube channel, all @rideforjase
I would love to have fellow cyclist join me for a leg during the journey so feel free to done the lycra or just give me a wave and a cheer as I pass by.
If you are a company who would like to sponsor them, please get in touch!