Graham’s pedal-powered mission to empower future leaders

After the Easter break, I am planning to start a cycle tour from Canberra to Brisbane. 

My name is Graham Smith, and I have had a long term goal to cycle tour from my home in Canberra to all Australian state capitals before I turn 70. I only have a couple of years before that milestone age, so I need to get on my bike and start pedalling! 

I retired a couple of years ago, but I am very keen to maintain my connection to the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) which I worked with for seven years. 

I’m especially keen to help the ARLF raise funds for the merit based scholarships which are the core to the very high standards which it has sustained in its leadership development programs for over 30 years. So, this ride is also a fundraising ride – you can help me reach my $6,000 fundraising goal with a donation!

Meet me along the country roads

I expect the ride will take about three weeks and cover 1400 km.

The parts of the ride I am most looking forward to will be visiting my 93 year old mother in Orange, New South Wales, and seeing relatives and friends in the towns of Barraba and Tamworth in northern New South Wales.  

This area is where I was born and grew up. The Barraba area is home to many generations of my family and it’s a very special place to me. My home patch. The ride route north will be inland and something like:

Canberra-Gunning-Crookwell-Blayney-Orange-Wellington-Gulgong-Werris Creek-Tamworth-Barraba-Warialda-Inverell-Glen Innes-Tenterfield-Stanthorpe-Warwick-Toowoomba-Brisbane.

Enroute I’m also looking forward to meeting alumni of the ARLF. Through the ARLF I was privileged to meet many wonderful, accomplished and inspiring rural and regional people, and quite a few live in the areas I plan to cycle through.

The areas include Central West New South Wales, Upper Hunter, Liverpool Plains, Nandewar, the Northern Tablelands and the Darling Downs.

Safety and fun in numbers

It’s highly likely, but not yet 100% sure, that old friend and cycle touring mate Joel Krewaz will accompany me on this forthcoming tour.

Joel is one of the Friday Peloton mentioned previously and we’ve also done a couple of cycle tours together. One tour we completed was the particularly long ride … 3800 km… from Canberra to Perth a couple of years ago. So he’s an experienced cycle tourer. 

Joel is currently travelling in Taiwan and Japan with his wife but is due back in Australia a few days before 2 April, which should be ample time to throw a few things into his panniers and be ready to pedal. 

Am I up for the challenge?

With 9 days till start day I feel like I am fit enough to do this tour, but I will only know for sure when the pedalling really begins. As any cycle tourer knows, the only way to really find out if you are fit enough to ride 6-8 hours a day on a loaded bike is to do exactly that.

I have been training by doing a variety of local rides, on and off sealed roads, on several different bikes including my mountain bike, my small wheeled bikes and (mostly) on the Red Bike aka the Thorn Audax. 

For the past month, I cycled almost every day with an average of about 25km. Although not much distance, and on unloaded bikes quite unlike my loaded touring bike, most of the training rides have included climbs, averaging about 300 meters per day. It’s these ascents which feel like the fitness building activity.

I would like to acknowledge that I will be passing through the Traditional Lands of the Ngunnawal, Wiradjuri,  Kamilaroi, Barranggam, Bundjalung, Yuggera and Turrbal people on this ride. I pay respect to generations past, current and future who care for this Country.

If you want to follow along, please visit my blog and, I would love for you to support my fundraiser with a donation, no matter how small.

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