WARRNAMBOOL cyclist Jason Hill reckons his team has chosen the wrong direction for its 1200-kilometre charity ride this week.
After encountering 60 kilometre an hour headwinds on Sunday and hailstorms on Monday, Mr Hill reckons the team should be riding west to east, rather than the other way round from Melbourne to the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia.
Mr Hill is an experienced long-distance cyclist and said the weather conditions he encountered earlier this week were the most difficult he had experienced.
He is part of a six-member Rocket team, raising funds for the not-for-profit Rocket program that provides world-class, evidence-based intensive therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The group is this week riding an average of about 180 kilometres a day to reach the small country town of Port Victoria in South Australia, the home town of ride organiser Michael Kinnane.
Mr Hill said the winds were so strong on Sunday on the Great Ocean Road between Lorne and Apollo Bay they had to get off their bikes and walk or risk being blown over the cliffs. This week’s ride is Mr Hill’s third “crazy” long-distance charity trek, following an Adelaide to Melbourne ride he did in 2010 for Peter’s Project and South West Healthcare’s paediatric ward, and a Sydney to Melbourne ride in 2008 for Royal Melbourne Hospital’s cancer ward.
The Rocket ride has so far raised about $55,000.
Mr Hill said he was inspired to take part because he had seen the dramatic improvement the Rocket program had made with his young niece and nephew, the children of his cousin and ride organiser, Mr Kinnane.
“It’s been extraordinary for them, for their ability to communicate,” Mr Hill said.
He said he was attracted to long-distance rides for charity because “it’s great to be able to ride for a good cause”.
“And, personally, it’s character-building, it’s a good challenge. I like pushing myself physically, finding new boundaries.”
Also on the bike ride is Mr Hill’s brother-in-law, Justin Nelson of Geelong, who said the Rocket therapy was life-changing not only for those with ASD but also their families.
“Early intervention can enable kids to start mainstream school versus a life of constant care,” Mr Nelson said.
The ride aims to reach Port Victoria tomorrow to be welcomed by the local community, which has given great support to the event.
Money raised through the ride will help address the need for more therapists and another behaviour analyst for the Rocket program.