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Melbourne to Darwin trek is all for a good cause

Long distance cyclist only learnt to ride a bike in his mid-20s

Dan Scott is aiming to raise $5000 for cancer research through his Melbourne to Darwin ride. 

Mark Phillips

A BRUNSWICK man who only learnt how to ride a bike in his 20s will embark on an epic 4000km journey to Darwin next month in a bid to raise money for children’s cancer research.

Riding alone for at least 40 days, Dan Scott is aiming raise $5000 for the Children’s Cancer Institute.

The length of the ride does not daunt Scott, who has already crossed the United States from east to west twice in the past decade.

But Scott does have a point to prove to himself after attempting but failing to ride to Darwin once before.

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Scott, 35, will depart Melbourne on July 1, initially riding from Frankston to Sorrento, where he will catch the ferry to Queenscliff before setting off along the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide.

From Adelaide it will be a straight line north to Darwin, covering about 100km a day. Barring any mishaps, Scott expects to arrive in Darwin by late-August.

Scott, who works in the mental health sector, is a self-described nervous cyclist who had never learnt how to ride a bike until about a decade ago. Growing up in the Latrobe Valley, he was more of an indoor type who played video games. He took up cycling initially as a cheap way to travel overseas.

But since then he has made up for lost time, accumulating an estimated 25,000 kilometres on his trusted Surly Long Haul Trucker road bike he affectionately calls ‘the old rig’.

It was an incident at the end of his second cross-country ride in the US in 2022 that gave him the impetus to use the Melbourne-Darwin ride as a fundraiser for children’s health.

“I had a crash in LA and broke my elbow and the Royal Melbourne Hospital looked after me really well.

“So I just thought if there’s a way I can give back that’d be great. And it just occurred to me while I was hospital, I was there only a couple of days but some kids spend their whole childhood in and out of hospital.

“Something about that doesn’t feel right so that’s what I’m raising money for and it’s a cause I really feel passionate about. I’m really looking to really support the team there [a the Children’s Cancer Institute] and get some money for the people doing the really hard work researching ways to treat cancer.”

He is almost halfway to his $5000 target. Donations can be made via GoFundMe, and Scott will be posting updates during his ride to his Instagram account.

Scott aboard ‘the old rig’, on which he has covered about 25,000 km.

Apart from the inevitable monotony of riding on his own every day, Scott’s biggest concerns are inclement weather, falling off his bike and the ever present risk of passing traffic.

He said the first week or so will be tough as no amount of training can prepare a cyclist for a gruelling day after day in the saddle, but after then he expects to settle into a comfortable rhythm.

“It should be a pretty smooth ride, but you never know until you go,” he said.

“I’m pretty experienced, fortunately. I could almost say I’ve seen it all, having ridden across the United States twice.

“In my last crossing in 2022, I cycled for seven weeks across the desert near the Mexican border, so I got kind of accustomed to the conditions there and running out of water, dust and all of that sort of thing.

“Mostly what really worries me is giving up … It’s funny, I actually am not too much of a regular rider but on these treks it’s very hard to give up because you’re in the middle of nowhere so generally you start small and build up to 100 ks and get a good rhythm going.

“Admittedly I haven’t trained as hard as I should have but that just means the first couple of weeks will be hard but I’ve done a few of these rides now and I didn’t prepare for them either.”

Most nights he will pull over to the side of the road and find a good spot to camp overnight.

“Sometimes there’s strangers who are really kind and give you a safe place to sleep, that’s always nice, but for the most part it’s camping. I’ll sleep every now and then at a caravan park and have a shower.”

The Melbourne to Darwin trek is also a personal mission for Scott after he failed miserably the first time he attempted it in 2019.

“This was actually supposed to be my first big trip, Melbourne to Darwin, but I got hospitalised with heat stroke in the first weekend so I had to cancel,” he said.

“I tried it over summer which was obviously not a good idea. So it’s kind of a redemption trip as well.”

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