SHELLHARBOUR'S Chris Girvan has described the recent Bikes for Bibles Big Ride as a huge challenge, and one that he doesn't think he would tackle again.
The son of an Anglican minister, Mr Girvan, 60, retired from primary school teaching last year. Having previously undertaken two 10-day Bike for Bibles Blue Lizard rides, he decided to take on the final 40 days of the demanding 64-day Big Ride.
"By the time I joined the ride in Perth, around a dozen riders, including a 76-year-old man and two women, had already ridden 2541 kilometres from Broome over 22 days, and they did the whole 7200 kilometres," Mr Girvan said.
"But no matter how much training you do in preparation for the ride, you just can't do enough.
"The ride was extremely enjoyable, but tough. You can't fully prepare for it physically, mentally or emotionally - you are away from home for a long time and you're sleeping pretty rough. You throw your mattress down on the floor of a church hall or whatever, and you're up at 6.30am the next morning and do it all again.
"It's not a major thing riding 150 kilometres in a day. It's the fact that you do it day after day after day; it's a marathon and a huge mental challenge.
"The Nullarbor was the worst - I was really sore in the shoulders and backside. We had one day where we rode 185 kilometres into the wind and we got up the next day and did it all again.
One day they rode from Esperance to Norseman, an arduous 204-kilometre trek.
"I can tell you that when we rode into Ceduna, effectively leaving the Nullarbor behind us, I was on a high.
"It was a very attractive sight - there could have been one dunny there and it would have been attractive to me.
"The bonding you make with others on the trip was enormous.
"You are beside the snorer whether you like it or not, and bed looked very good when I got home.
"In fact my wife Margaret did offer me the blow-up on the floor when I got home, which I politely declined."
During the 40 days he was away, he rode a total of 4600 kilometres and wanted to thank his supporters.
"My aim was to raise $5000 and to date have collected more than $8000, and the whole ride will raise more than $200,000, taking the 29-year history of Bikes for Bibles past $3 million.
"The money raised will go to helping increase literacy in third world countries.
"This year [Bikes for Bibles] is targeting South and Central America, particularly women, as literacy changes people's lives - it empowers them."
Money raised will also help supply chaplains with bibles.