Sixty-eight-year-old Ross Adams believes he’s the wrong shape for a cyclist, and yet God has given him the physical capacity to ride a bike for long hours.
God has also given him a character that approaches problems as challenges to be overcome, even a problem as horrendous as brain cancer.
Put the two gifts together and it becomes clear why Ross is excited rather than daunted at the prospect of cycling 4,000km from Perth to Newcastle over the next five weeks.
Ross is one of 26 riders aged from 28-71 who this morning, September 17, leave Cottesloe Beach in Perth on the 2022 Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast, riding across the gruelling Nullarbor to the east coast city of Newcastle, arriving October 19.
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“The best thing is you get five weeks of guilt-free eating.” – Ross Adams
“I’m excited, I’m looking forward to it – I did it in 2018, so know what’s coming, so I’m a bit calmer than some people,” Ross told Eternity this week.
“It’s a ride on a lot of levels. The prime motivator is to raise funds for vulnerable children, and fundraising is going particularly well. People ask me ‘Don’t you find it difficult to ride eight hours a day?’ I say ‘When you look at the struggles these people are having to live through, it’s easy by comparison.’
“There’s the personal satisfaction, the friends you make, the places you see and the best thing is you get five weeks of guilt-free eating. You can eat whatever you like, which when you consider the people around the world who are not getting fed, is a stark reminder of what it’s about.”
Each cyclist undertakes extensive training before the event, pays for their on-road costs, and raises funds for the work of Compassion. This year’s Ride for Compassion aims to raise $1 million for highly vulnerable children, including those affected by the global food crisis, and see 150 children sponsored through Compassion Australia. Ross says he has raised $10,500 while the team total currently sits at $613,765 with 150 children sponsored.
Ross sounds calm and collected about the athletic and mental challenge before him despite the burden of not being able to see anything out of his right eye. In 2014, after suffering from blurred vision, he discovered he had a Meningioma, a 38mm tumour pressing on the frontal lobe of his brain and attached to the carotid artery and the optic nerve of his right eye.
A surgeon was able to remove the tumour by performing Stealth Guided Craniotomy, a risky procedure that could have led to blindness, a stroke or death. Thankfully, Ross emerged from surgery intact and with vision in one eye.
“It becomes a mind game, and I enjoy the challenge of that.” – Ross Adams
Three months later, he completed a Compassion Albany to Perth Ride – a feat he describes as “mind over matter.”
“Moving was an effort and thinking was out of the question, but I was committed to the Albany Ride in three months, and I was going to do it right or wrong. Every day I set myself a challenge to walk further, concentrate for longer or interact with people at a higher level,” he says.
“I managed to complete the ride and thought at that stage I was doing well; in hindsight, I was only about 50 percent, recovered especially mentally. Time has moved on and I have kept riding. It took a full 12 months to recover as completely as I could.”
In 2018 Ross, along with his son, took on the “insanity” of their first Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast.
“The ride was physically and mentally demanding every day as we had strong headwinds to battle against, made easier when the plight of the children we were riding for is foremost in your thoughts,” he says.
Despite his health struggles, including some broken bones in training for the ride, Ross says he “celebrates being alive every day” and is very much looking forward to the Ride for Compassion challenge.
“I enjoy challenging myself and working out as we go how to overcome whatever is in front of you, whether it’s rough roads or hills. There’s a physical aspect of it but as you get sore, it becomes a mind game, and I enjoy the challenge of that. It’s difficult but you can find a way around it. You’ve got to think your way through it – adopt the approach of elite athletes, that nothing’s going to stop me, and this is how I can fix it.”
For Nellie Logan, one of only four female riders, this epic ride isn’t the only way she supports the work of Compassion Australia. She single-handedly writes letters to more than 900 children living in poverty every year on behalf of other sponsors, giving them encouragement and reminding them they are loved.
“I want people to understand why we are doing this ride,” says Nellie. “We are doing it for the children living in poverty. If by the money we raise through this ride, we can change the lives of children for the better, it is all worth it.”
The oldest rider in this year’s team is 71-year-old Mike Jeffs, a longtime board member of Compassion Australia.
“I feel incredibly blessed to be in the position to undertake this epic ride and at the same time able to support vulnerable children at the same time,” he says of the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Accompanying the riders will be a videographer from GOOD (ACC TV) who will record the ups and downs of the crossing of Australia and highlight the vital work of Compassion for a documentary to be broadcast and distributed globally.
Among the 13 support crew for the ride are Murray and Tracy Ferguson of Perth, who will be providing the catering for most meals on the road.
“For Murray and me, God and children are at the core of the things that matter.” – Tracy Ferguson
They were among the event’s top fundraisers and most enthusiastic supporters, putting on five quiz nights, two sausage sizzles and an Edwardian high tea.
“What we did matched with our characters, we did quiz nights and we had so much fun,” says Tracy.
“I like dressing up so we did an Edwardian high tea. We had heaps of people who came and got dressed up and had a great time; a dear friend who sings in a choir offered to sing songs appropriate to the period and I talked about the Edwardian period, while Rose Daniels from Compassion gave a talk.
“My heart is driven by children and the need to make a difference in their lives, to support them financially so they can get what they need. For Murray and me, God and children are at the core of the things that matter.”
Adds Murray: “We want to help serve God and serve others and this is a way of serving both in a practical way that’s going to have a massive impact. We hope it makes a massive difference to children in poverty and we’ve been enriched through the process.”
To donate to Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast 2022, click here.