For Glenn Swift, his bike ride from Perth to Fairfield – just shy of 3900 kilometres (some 600 kiolmetres longer than the Tour de France) – was all about unfinished business.
At 16, Glenn tried to join the military straight out of school, but was turned away because he was too young.
“You had to be 17 that’s the only reason I didn’t go,” he told the Champion on his arrival to Fairfield last Tuesday.
“I wanted to be part of the military. That’s the path I wanted to take. But because I was too young I did work experience as motor mechanic and my path went another way.
“For me this ride was an opportunity to serve those who served.”
The 21-day trip was to raise funds and awareness for The Younger Heroes, an organisation which provides support for military families to regain emotional connection and build family resilience.
Founder Damien Schofield, the son of a Vietnam War veteran, has developed a four-day physical and psychological training camp designed to reconnect veterans and those that have served the nation and their children.
Mr Swift, who is Komatsu’s General Manager for Western Region, said working within the mining industry he had an idea of the impact separation can have on families.
His passion to help empower The Younger Heroes grow and become a force was the drive behind the ride.
Komatsu’s Live Your Dream program was the fuel which enabled the ride which began at the Welshpool Branch in Perth on July 10.
The Japanese earthmoving giant also donated $10,000 to the cause.
By the time Glenn rode down Fairfield Street on July 31 he was physically and mentally drained when greeted by hundreds of fellow employees and his family.
“As you can imagine it’s not a flat, straight country. It has actually been a very undulating and bendy road to get here,” he said.
“Australia is a dry, tough country and riding it was tough and dry.
“It was very tough. There were points in the ride where I had to find something within to continue.”
One of those times came on the route to Port Augusta.
Battling a strong head wind, rough roads and heavy haul trucks barreling down besides the sometimes non-existent shoulder lanes he was riding on, he crawled at 15km/h – down from his average speed of 25km/h.
“The schedule food and water stops weren’t open on the Sunday so I did the whole day on two litres of water and a couple of muesli bars,” he said.
“My commitment to the project ensured that I never gave up. Physically I knew I could do it because I had done the training, some 10,000km. Mentally, I didn't know because that was new ground.
“I knew I had the strength. I just had to put it to the test.”
The father of three reverted to mind games to conquer the 190-kilomtre daily journey.
He used every mind game and trick in the book to motivate,distract and encourage himself to succeed.
From personal trainer-type encouragement, to visualising a rollar door shutting to stop negative thoughts creeping in and making up songs and rhymes.
At around Broken Hill when his legs were at their weakest he even dreamed a massage shop had opened up.
“And it was run by Jennifer Hawkins,” he joked.
“I’d do anything to try and make sure positive thoughts were going through my ahead to avoid going down the spiral. Every trick meant a couple of kilometres had gone by.”
Swift’s ride has so far raised more than $20,000 has been raised for the The Younger Heroes through Komatsu and a GoFundMe page.
After the ride he was also a special guest at the Fairfield RSL Legacy Widows' lunch.
“I’ve always said those who have served our country are our country’s finest,” he said.
“I’ve had so much positive feedback for the ‘heroes’ – that’s why I’m raising money for them.”
- To donate to the cause: gofundme.com/glen-swift-riding-for-tyh or the theyoungerheroes.org.