On June 30th, 76-year-old Evan Elliott will set out on the marathon ‘Australian Big Ride’ from Broome to Sydney. Neither the 7,200km journey nor the prospect of nine weeks on the road bothers him. There’s only one thing he’s wary of, and he admits it sheepishly.
“It’s the camping.”
The Bike For Bibles (BFB) group of 62 riders and crew will spend eleven out of sixty-three nights camped out under the heavens. That means a tent, and a sleeping bag atop an airbed, and Elliott is hoping against hope that it won’t rain. It will, of course, be in the dead of winter that the ride takes place, so Elliott may just have to contend with some cold, wet nights.
The group will be in sleeping bags most nights of the ride, staying in church, school and community halls. For only twelve nights they’ll have the ‘luxury’ of an actual bed – in 2-star type roadhouse motels across the Nullabor, and when billeted in Angaston SA in the homes of church members.
Elliott has done other BFB long rides, so he knows the drill, and keeps coming back for more. He’s looking forward to the camaraderie on the ride. “Cycling is usually a very individualistic activity, but it’s very different on the BFB rides. Most of us are Christians, and when we’re on the ride together we aim to enjoy the whole experience.”
While BFB is a Bible-based fundraising activity, it’s open to anyone who enjoys riding, and there are usually a few non-Christians on each ride. Every night after dinner there’s a group devotion and someone shares from the Bible. Non-Christians in the group are welcomed to join in, and they often do.
Apart from fundraising keenly for Bible Society projects in Australia and overseas, Elliott has another desire burning in his heart. “I hope to encourage others to make Bible-reading a regular habit after the ride – if it isn’t already a daily habit for them. As a Christian, I’m conscious of daily communion with the Lord, and the need to read my Bible before I do anything else. It gives me the right attitude with which to start the day.”
He usually spends one to one and a half hours reading his Bible in the morning. “I then write out the thoughts I’ve gleaned from the reading.” That pattern might change over the nine weeks he’s on the Big Ride, but the team members still find ways to get their daily quiet time.
Elliott says he’s always led a sportive lifestyle, but amazingly, only started long-distance rides and riding competitively at the age of 54. “I’d just always had this desire to ride long-distance from Dubbo to Sydney, but the thing that stopped me was having to organise it all on my own. In 1990 when I was told about Bike For Bibles and their Dubbo-Sydney ride, I jumped at the chance! With Bike For Bibles, it’s all arranged for the rider!”
Elliott turns 77 one month after the ride ends, and says his age isn’t a deterrent in any way. “Cyclists are usually clean-living people, who aim to keep healthy so they can enjoy their sport. I do look after my “temple” as the Bible calls the body; God created our bodies for us to use and to work, not to sit on a couch.”
Lounging on a couch will be the last thing Evan Elliott will do from June 30 to September 1, as he pedals to help the Bible Society buy and distribute Bibles.
He’s raised $8,000 so far, and is working hard to achieve his target of $13,500.
Somehow, there’s very little doubt in anybody’s mind that he’ll get there.
Click here to read about the projects BFB is fundraising for, or to donate to them.
Click here to support the riders’ fundraising on the Big Ride. No dollar goes towards the riders themselves. To support Evan Elliott, please send cheques payable to Bike For Bibles to: Bible Society, GPO Box 9874, In Your Capital City
Photo (above) courtesy of Dubbo Photo NewsMore