From Chris O’Connor

Back in the good old days when I was a youngster and didn’t have the money for a car (although I had a Vespa scooter at one stage) I used my trust bicycle to get back and forth as I’m sure most people of my era did but one Australian who is in his 50’s is still riding a bike and he’s about to test his body to the limits – and more.

Rescue helicopter crewman Allan Jefferson is used to putting his body on the line, but he is about to face his toughest test of endurance yet. The 54-year-old is off to the United States to compete in the Race Across America, which is billed as the “world’s toughest bicycle race”.

The course spans almost 5,000 kilometres (just over 3000 miles) and crosses 12 states from California to Maryland, while climbing 55,000 metres, or 180446 feet.

That is like going up Everest a lot of times – six or seven times, The race is about 30 per cent longer than the Tour de France but is completed as a single-stage time trial with no breaks. Jefferson will have just 12 days to get to the finish line.

So stopping that is not an option. “It is a physical challenge but it’s also a mental one – I equate it to probably 99 per cent your head and 1 per cent your body.”

The experienced multi-sport athlete will be followed by a support crew, who will provide him with food, water, rest stops and moral support across all 12 states.

Trying to fit the distance in that he does and finish within 12 days means he’s going to be on the bike an awful lot – in excess of 20 hours a day, “Obviously you can’t do this in in one hit without some stops, but they will be pretty tiny – a sleep stop might be 20 minutes, half an hour, for the first few days.”

The Race Across America, which has been running for four decades and attracts cyclists from across the world, covers terrain from desert to mountain ranges.

“It’s gonna be hot, it’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be windy, and it’s gonna be rainy, and hopefully there’ll be a little bit of sun in there as well,” Huppatz said

“We know that pretty much we’re going to get hit with absolutely everything.”

Jefferson attempted the race in 2019 but illness forced him to pull out a third of the way through.

“I got a chest infection, and it put a lot of strain on my body,” he said. “We went to the hospital and they basically thought I was having a heart attack.”

So for the time being its off on his bike and a hopeful wish. The ride is raising money to support the mental health of frontline workers, a cause close to Jefferson’s heart.

I wish him luck and suggest he invests in a car!