Tom and Mark – The Cyclopaths – Cycling 4000km across Australia to help two sick little boys

The Cyclopath’s team consists of two guys that have decided to cycle across Australia from Perth to Sydney unsupported in order to raise funds for two young children who are unfortunately very ill. The Cyclopath’s goal is very simple, raise as much money as they possibly can in order to make a significant difference to these kids lives. The way they have decided to do it is to take on cycling close to 4000 kilometers across one of the most desolate places on earth in the middle of summer, the Australian outback. What I like to think of as shock and awe fundraising.

My name is Tom Bentley, and I make up 50% of the Cyclopath’s team. The other half is taken up by Mark Flynn…

PART 3 (see below for parts 1 and 2)

We are currently in Kellerberrin, 206 K out of Perth and going well.

We arrived in Perth last Wednesday night, got to our accommodation ( we are staying with a few of Marks old work pals). The next morning we went straight to the bike shop where Mark had first bought his bike close to a year ago. Mark had spoken to Tim at Avanti/Ward Cycles the week earlier and they where to do our final service on the bikes and any spare parts we would pick up from them.
They took one look at my bike and raised some serious concerns in regards to the ability to mount the racks on the back. I had known this was an issue, but was confident we could find a solution. The bike I was going to use was stolen and I was using a bike friend had lent me. Tim from Avanti told us to go off and leave it with him. 3 hours later I received a phone call from Tim advising me that he had spoken to Team Avanti and if I was willing to put in $200 Avanti would supply me with exactly the same bike as Mark’s! Brand new with racks fitted and a professional telemetry test thrown in. Mark and I couldn’t believe it and we were seen dancing around K-Mart in Perth.
Not only this, Mark and I were given heavy discounts on all the spare kit we needed, we were now officially sponsored by Avanti with matching tops and bikes and a whole load of equipment!
We had lined up a soft leaving party at Coopers school for Friday morning and the school did fantastically. Every single student lined lined the car park of the school waving flags, home made banners, whistling, cheering and whooping. A home made banner at the end of the driveway was erected for Mark and myself to cycle through on the way out of the school. For us, this moment was incredibly special, and perfectly illustrated exactly what this whole trip was all about helping these two boys.
I got to meet Cooper for the first time, which was incredibly emotional. His hair has grown back in a fair amount and he is even starting to give him self a few stylish haircuts. So pumped for him!
We both met Coopers dad for the first time, and for me that summed up the whole event. A large stocky man, with a proud handlebar mustache, and cheery personality. A true Aussie bloke, a man’s man some may say. When he hugged both Mark and Myself, welling up both times, I put my hand on his back and I could tell he was fighting hard to hold back the tears. We both felt the rawness and power in that moment.
So far so good, we left Perth on Sunday morning at 04:30 and managed the 100 km’s to Northam in just on five hours. The first journey was good, a 10k climb at the 20k mark  taking us 300m into the sky definitely woke us up, but there where just as many downhills, so I could free wheel close to 50 kph.
What did amaze us was how just 100k out of Perth the quality of the people rapidly declined. We decided to stay in a room and as we were not confident about leaving the bikes outside, they came into the room with us. With jeers of “why are you wearing all that tight shit you poofter” as we moved all the equipment into the room, we soon discovered that the pub was full of degenerate drunks. Within two hours Of us being there the police had been called to sort out a fight… at 1 in the afternoon!
Day 2 consisted of a mixture of a steady climb or relative flat for at least 70 k of our planned 106. That coupled with a steady headwind that pitched up at 07:30 this morning knocked us down to an average speed of 19 kph with no downhills to free wheel on. We were made to work for every metre today and it took us 7 hours to complete. Food stops and stretch breaks defiantly increased in quantity.
We had a first taste of the heat today as well as the temperatures got to 28 on the bike. We got to Kellerberrin around 12 this afternoon, and after a sleep and a good stretch session we serviced the bikes, filled water bottles, repacked and set the tent up for the first time. Tomorrow promises another 100k, with storms setting in around us which should make for some interesting cycling…

 

HWT: We are all thinking of the boys as they are in some of the toughest parts of their journey right now. Stay strong Tom and Mark!

You can follow The Cyclopaths on Facebook here!
You can donate to the cause HERE!

HWT: Part 2 of The Cyclopaths story is about an accident Tom had in the lead up to the ride.

PART 2 (see below for part 1)

I was on my way to work on the bike one mid-morning, it had been ever so-slightly raining during that day, enough to bring all the slippery oils out from the road. A combination of the road slick tires I had on my bike, the rain and a small head cold I had been fighting off for the previous few days caused the bike to come out from underneath me going around a round-about at around 15KPH. Not that fast I’m sure you will agree, however every single bit of force, weight and kinetic energy transferred its self to the last two fingers on my right hand, and then tore and shredded as I was using them as anchors on a tarmac road, blunting themselves down to points. Not one other scratch on my whole body, but my right hand was a mess. I took one look, and instantly felt sick, there simply was no longer flesh where there had been before. The shock and adrenalin where enough to numb the pain, for now.

I was helped out of the road by a women and her six-year-old son. Incredibly he was just simply curious as to the funny shape my hand was in, and my vain attempts to try and hide the hand from him whilst covering myself in blood only peaked his curiosity. I was taken to local doctors who told me that he could simply do nothing for me there, and was shipped up to hospital through a friend of mine who was in town.

One look at the fingers at the hospital and I was told I would need a plastic surgeon to reconstruct the tops of my fingers and they would try and schedule surgery that night. The pain killers that my friend had given me where starting to wear off and a burning sensation of all my nerves being exposed was starting to take effect, so I was taken to a gurney, laid back and given something to handle the pain.Incredibly enough I ended up sharing a room with one of my rugby team mates who had ended up snapping his wrist skateboarding with his kids. After all the normal hospital palava, I was wheeled into surgery at 21:00 that night.

My last memory before going under, was the surgeon asking to sign a permission form so that he could shorten my fingers if he needed too. I guess I could only say yes, I don’t think he would have accepted no for an answer. Left handed signature of course.

All in all, my fingers stayed roughly the same length save for a few millimeters. For the nails that hadn’t already been ripped off, the others where removed, and cleaned in an acid bath before being re-inserted into my fingers in order to keep the cuticle skin open so my new nails could growth through. The nail beds has to be re-constructed, using all-together 25 stitches in and around the finger tips, and then everything was glued back into place. I had to sleep with my arm in a vertical sling, and was woken on the hour ever hour to check vitals but more importantly, given a few more of those magic medications that took me off to a very happy place.

I would like to say a massive thanks to the staff at Manly hospital for all their help and care, both during my time in hospital and the aftercare post accident. It was excellent.

Mark had phoned work to let them know that I was not able to work, the conversation went a little like this.

Mark “I’m afraid Bentley can’t make it to work as he has had a bike crash and is on his way to hospital”

Boss “So your phoning me to tell me that your coming into cover him? Great, see you in 20 minutes bye”

Mark “ehhh…”

(phone hangs up)

Mark the absolute champion without hesitation took on my hours as well as his own, culminating his working week into close to 60 hours plus. He even found the time to buy me chocolate and food as get well-presents while I was propped up in bed. By him working all those hours it even saved my job at the restaurant, and I managed to return to work five days later. He even split his wages and tips with me that week so I could make rent that week.

He took on all the Cyclopaths responsibilities, pushing for fundraising, kit sorting and just left me to regenerate a few limbs. One rule that Mark and I always share is to “surround yourself with good people”. We both feel the benefit of meeting each other, and know that all those ouzo shots in Greece to cement said friendship will make it a life changing event.

Tom and Mark begin the massive ride from Perth to Sydney in 4 DAYS!!

You can follow The Cyclopaths on Facebook here!

You can donate to the cause HERE!

 

PART 1

I met Mark working on a holiday resort on the Greek mainland back in 2011. It was obvious that we shared a passion for a number of common grounds, including sports, positivity, adventure and we got on very well, but it would take a lot of luck, determination and pursuing dreams to get us to the stage where we are now. The bro-mance was certainly ignited back in the days of beach blond hair, Greek olives and Ouzo.

Having finished with seasonal life after back-to-back summer/winter twice over, I embarked on a trip the travel SE-Asia with another friend of mine for three months, and I was half way down Vietnam on the back of a motorbike when I decided that I was still not ready to go home (Mark and I are both from the UK) and booked my-self a one way flight to Australia from Bangkok. Mark, similarly finished with season life and at a loss with what to do next had two job offers come across his desk, one for Australia, one for Hong-Kong. Enie-meny-mineo-mo and the boys where soon to be reunited down under.

In fact by pure coincidence, I was moved up the Gold Coast from Sydney with my job the same weekend Mark arrived at his new job on… The Gold Coast. Mark’s geographic knowledge of Australia was a little sketchy in those days. The original message I received from him put his new job two hours north of me. On further investigation, turns out it was a mere twenty-minute drive.

On completion of my farm stay I moved back to Sydney to continue my life in Australia with no idea what to do next, but at least I had another year to think about it. I was working as a Boat Captain in and around Sydney Harbour while Mark was managing a youth football academy in Perth. Our time together in the Gold Coast had brought us much closer as friends and we still kept in regular contact.

In fact it was during one of our weekly phone calls that Mark suggested we take an adventure together at some point as we where both getting bored with working life. We thought about overseas trips, the usual backpacker trips, but genuinely decided we wanted to do something bigger and better (we share a pretty competitive nature) Everything changed the day Mark met Cooper…

The Birth of ‘Cyclopaths’

Mark was invited through work to attend a charity day where-by he and his team would provide the training facilitates for football matches as part of a large fundraising day for Cooper. From the phone call I received from Mark that night, he was blown away by meeting this brave child. Two days later I received this text message from Mark…

MARK: Mate, 4000k on bikes from Perth to Sydney, I recon 14 days, to raise money for this great kid I have met.

TOM: Can I come?

Mark: I wasn’t messaging you to tell it was just me doing it, you’re the other team member. We leave in 10 months

Our greatest travel adventure yet and The Cyclopaths were born.

cc2

Cooper on the left with Mark. Tom and Jack are on the right.

Some background on the kids:

Cooper  was diagnosed with Diabetes Insipidus, an indicator that something is wrong with either the kidneys or the brain. It was soon discovered that he had brain tumours near the optical nerve and the pituitary gland. Cooper has completed five months of chemotherapy and 20 rounds of radiation treatment. Cooper will have DI and Adrenal insufficiency for the rest of his life and growth hormone treatment will be necessary once he has been out of treatment for one year.

Jack is a 9 year old boy from Ireland who was born with Down Syndrome and CINCA (chronic infantile neurological cutaneous articular syndrome) The combination of the diseases makes him a truly one-of-a-kind child as he is the only person in the world to have both Down Syndrome and CINCA. The year between is the first full year he has spent outside of hospital, without including check ups and appointments. Jack ended up having 3 heart surgeries before he was 2 years old. His first Christmas at home didn’t happen till he was 6. He too has a mountain of complications that come part and parcel to his condition.

HWT: We will be following Tom and Mark’s adventures on Humans Who Travel all the way until they are back in Sydney!

The boys begin the ride on the 23rd of November

You can follow The Cyclopaths on Facebook here!

You can donate to the cause HERE!

The boys will also be on the Weekend Today Show on channel 9 at 7.40am this Sunday!

 

One thought on “Tom and Mark – The Cyclopaths – Cycling 4000km across Australia to help two sick little boys

  1. I know i already heard the stories from you myself but I loved to read about it as well! And some bits you didn’t tell me that made me enjoy it even more :)

    Keep up the good work Bente!
    Miss you my champions

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