Why I'm riding in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race

Why I'm riding in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race

Next year I'll be lining up to start and hopefully finish the Indian Pacific Wheel Race. That statement usually brings a few follow-up questions. I've tried my best to answer them below, in the only way I know how: like a slightly scared smartass.

Words - James Raison    Images - Credited


 Image credit: Markus Stitz

Image credit: Markus Stitz

What’s the Indian Pacific Wheel Race?

Well, it’s a 5,300km solo and unsupported bicycle race from Fremantle to Sydney via Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra. Competitors depart at the designated time time and ride their bicycles until they finish. Or they abandon. I’m hoping to finish!

Riders are responsible for themselves and tending to their own needs. They can use any service and support that’s publically available. Personal support from friends or family is forbidden. You also can’t mail supplies ahead of yourself on the route. Riders must also follow the exact route and can’t use any power other than their own legs. It’s terrifyingly simple! There's a few more rules, read the full list.

The course includes the expansive nothingness of the Nullabor plain, going within 1km of my own house in Adelaide, the tack-enthusiast paradise of the Kew Boulevard, climbing Falls Creek with 4,400km in the legs, the rolling hills of the Australian Capital Territory, and the cyclist loving paradise that is Sydney.

 What could possibly go wrong?

What could possibly go wrong?

Check out the full race route, or go to the event Facebook page.

Why the hell would you do that?

Well… yeah… it’s both easy and hard to explain. Firstly, I’m a bit weird. I suspect all competitors are. I’m a generally well socialised creature, but there’s something a bit different in my wiring. I like riding bikes and I like going on adventures. I'm going to introduce some discomfort and chaos. Some people might choose a new haircut, buy a new shiny thing, or try a new Instagram filter. I’m choosing to suffer horribly for a long time. Did I mention I was weird?

Finding a new challenge is another motivator too. I’ve come a long way from being an overweight teenager. Riding bikes literally chiselled me down into a weird bag of bones, lean muscle, and a stomach to hold the burgers and icecreams I eat. I chronicled my transformation in a piece “From Boozehound to Greyhound” for the Sticky Bidon last year if you’d like to read more. Since then I’ve ticked off challenges like my first 100km, 200km, 300km rides. Then it was a couple of Everestings. February 2016 saw me and 3 mates ride unsupported from Melbourne to Adelaide in 60 hours. I knew a massive Trans-America/Trans-Continental ride was the next logical step. Little did I know the challenge would come to Straya. I knew I’d be doing it as soon as I heard it was being planned.

 At the end of our Melbourne to Adelaide ride. I'm the colourful one.

At the end of our Melbourne to Adelaide ride. I'm the colourful one.

Aren’t you scared?

Terrified. It keeps me up at night. I’m scared of many things. What will happen to my ass? What if I get lost? What if I don’t finish? What if I DO finish? Will there be Wolf Creek style serial killers? How will I go not seeing my partner for so long? Can I stand my own company for that long? What if I crash? What if I have to tear out my spokes to fight off an escaped polar bear and then can’t ride my bike away from its spoke-riddled corpse? So yeah, some fears are more rational than others…

Being slightly serious for a moment, I need to be scared. I need to lose some control, and I need to be stripped back to the bare essentials required to survive. Personal growth comes from adversity. I have a comfortable life and I’m very happy with it. I could rest on my laurels but I’m not going to. I’m going to ride across Australia… shit… 

What now?

The short-term goal is to finish my rig for the race. I had nothing suitable in my stable so I had to put something together. I look forward to showing it to you soon. It's a Curve Belgie spirit, SO EXCITED!

Then, ride the bike. Ride it a lot. Research where I can get food, water, and supplies on the Nullabor. Also, write lots of articles so I can feel less alone in this frankly ridiculous endeavour. There will be a lot of alone time from 18 March 2016 but until then I can write things that people read and interact with. 

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