RIDING 650km on a bicycle from Sydney to Mt Kosciuszko might seem like a tough challenge, but Kiama's Heather McAlpine says that's nothing compared to fighting cancer.
For Mrs McAlpine, who started the Ride to the Top on Saturday, it is her first full-length endurance ride since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2009.
She is raising money for the Breast Cancer Support Network.
"The network supports you in the cancer journey, particularly in the first month - when you're diagnosed, your mind goes into a spasm and it's a time of shock and intense decision-making," she said.
She started riding 10 years ago when she and her husband, John, moved to Kiama.
"It was a weird time to start because Kiama has so many hills, but it helps you to get fit fast because you've got to do the hills - you've got no choice," she said.
"I lead a busy life and I found that if I caught up with friends while riding, I could do two things in the same amount of time."
After she joined the Kiama Bicycle Users Group (BUG), she took part in her first endurance ride from Sydney to Kosciuszko in 2003.
She hoped to ride last year, but the discovery and removal of a non-cancerous tumour on her ovary meant she could only ride from Bowral to Goulburn.
"It's very meaningful being able to do the whole distance this year," she said.
She said the chemotherapy had had lasting effects on her lungs.
"I've been told I've got 180 per cent higher fitness for my age, height and weight, but the dodgiest set of lungs," she said.
"But my respiratory physician said cycling is the best thing for me."
Mrs McAlpine will finish the Ride to the Top this Saturday and is hoping to raise $6500 - she has raised $3300 so far.
To donate, visit http://personalchallenge.gofundraise.com.au/page/heathermcalpine