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After 12,000km, Bob’s cycling back home to Newy

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Even though he won’t want to see another bike for a while, Novocastrian Robert “Bob” Sheridan admits his 12,000km-plus trek has been “cathartic”.

The St Mary’s Catholic College Gateshead teacher is preparing to embark on the final leg of his “odyssey” – from Denman to Newcastle – and hoping to arrive at Nobbys Beach on Sunday 13 August about 2pm.

Sheridan
St Mary’s Catholic College Gateshead teacher Robert “Bob” Sheridan. Photo: Rod Thompson

The spritely 68-year-old left “home” in April, kicking off the quest in Townsville, to raise awareness and funds for the Black Dog Institute (BDI).

From there, he pedalled to Broome, then onto Perth before venturing to Port Augusta, southern NSW in recent weeks and the Hunter.

Along the way, Mr Sheridan’s amassed more than $25,000 for the charity.

“The subject of mental health is important to me,” he said.

“I continue to live with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, even though it doesn’t define who I am, it is part of my journey. 

“When I was 12, I was sexually abused; an incident that no child should endure.

“But, over many, many decades, a combination of friends, family, professional help and exercise has helped my recovery and provided the enthusiasm to spread the message of mental health.

“So, raising awareness and being able to help others by sharing my story is what motivates me.

“I’ve enjoyed talking to sporting clubs, schools and community groups during my travels.

“However, I have just got three days to go now… and I can’t wait to return home.”

Mr Sheridan still can’t believe he’s been “on the road” for the past four-and-a-half months.

“I’m in my 18th week, it’s unbelievable,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“From Townsville to Broome, down to Perth, across to Dubbo, then back to Newcastle… it’s a fair distance.

“But, the support I’ve received all the way has been phenomenal.

“For example, there was one guy somewhere in Western Australia.

“You could see I was exhausted, so he asked for my phone number.

“The next day, he texted me saying ‘okay, I’ve got a room for you in Ceduna. Stay there and have a rest, it’s all paid for. Just go there and tell him your name; and you’ll be right’.

“Things like that, people have been fantastic.

“It’s a wonderful thing.

“And, then there’s the Australian landscape.

“I travelled along the Gibb River Road through the Northern Territory and the Nullarbor through Western Australia.

“It’s just the most beautiful part of the world… and I did it on a bike.

“To be able to do that fast enough to get from A to B, but slow enough to enjoy the beauty of what we have here in Australia, it’s hard to explain.

“They’ve been the standouts; people’s generosity and the Aussie scenery.”

One aspect Mr Sheridan wasn’t exactly counting on was a trip of self-discovery.

“Although it [cycling] helped me relax, I’ve learned a lot about myself,” he said.

“Doing this day-in and day-out, there were times I just wanted to be home and throw the bike under a bus.

“However, I’d say to myself ‘Come on Shero, you’re doing this for a good reason… push through one more day.

“So, the mental resilience and the toughness that you develop is much more important than the physical challenge.

“But, overall, I’ll never forget this experience and it’s changed me.

“I know myself now better than I ever have.”

So, what’s the first thing Mr Sheridan will do when he arrives in Newcastle?

“I just want to get home, go to Nobbys and chuck the bike in the water,” he answered with a laugh.

Not many people could blame him either.

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