EPIC BOND: Endurance cyclists (from left) Marshall Cusworth, Steve Schoemaker and Jon Bennett take a short break in Ipswich nearing the end of their 5800km charity ride across Australia.
EPIC BOND: Endurance cyclists (from left) Marshall Cusworth, Steve Schoemaker and Jon Bennett take a short break in Ipswich nearing the end of their 5800km charity ride across Australia. Kate Czerny

Ipswich training key to 5800km trek and $260,000 for orphans

FREEZING mornings in the desert, treacherous roads and even a camel that blocked their path.

Spending six weeks riding across Australia for charity can be challenging work.

However, for Marshall Cusworth, Steve Schoemaker and Jon Bennett, the 5830km journey was worth the sacrifice as it's already raised more than $260,000 for Congo orphans.

Ipswich played a part in the trio's epic ride called Hope Across Australia.

Before leaving Steep Point in Western Australia and finishing at Byron Bay yesterday, the cyclists prepared around Limestone Park and Springfield.

"We've done a lot of training out this way," Mr Cusworth, 57, said, unshaven after weeks on the road.

He was the only rider of the trio with previous cycling experience. However, the dedication of 43-year-old Mr Schoemaker and 47-year-old Mr Bennett helped them reach Ipswich on Saturday before the final stretch of their mission.

"The two hardest parts for us were the dirt roads," Mr Cusworth said.

"We left Lavington (Western Australia) heading into Uluru and did 1300km on dirt road called the Great Central Road. We think it should be spelt 'Grate' because it's a grate. It's barely a road.

"We spent eight days in a row on that bouncing around, struggling big time.

"And the second thing has been the cold. Try getting up at 6.30 in the morning at minus two and put lycra on and go for a bike ride."

The trip crossed four deserts.

One of the lighter moments was when a massive camel refused to get out of the way walking up the centre of the road.

It took a support vehicle's prompting, led by "Ken the camel herder", to move the animal on so the riders could soldier on.

They covered between 100 and 160km a day on the dirt roads and on bitumen up to 220km a day.

Mr Cusworth said the motivation to keep going was the good the venture would achieve for orphans in the war-torn African country.

"The children in the Democratic Republic of Congo are going to benefit massively from what we are doing," he said.

"Only four days ago, we were able to sign off on the infrastructure build of some new buildings which will help keep kids out of the dormitory where they are currently sleeping on a classroom floor."

Engineer Steve Schoemaker co-founded the Australia Hope International organisation in 2006.

To donate, visit hopeacrossaustralia.com/



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