Riding for compassion

June 9, 2017

In 2018, Rodney Olsen* will ride his bike from Perth to Newcastle, all in the name of a very good cause.



It seemed like a strange thing to do for a young man who had never been interested in any sport. Riding more than four and a half thousand kilometres across Australia was surely the domain of fanatical cyclists, yet there I was, an overweight guy in my mid-twenties, getting ready to pedal from Perth to Canberra with a dozen other cyclists.

That was 30 years ago. Thankfully I made the distance and loved it so much that I did the same fundraising ride the following year. Two years after that I cycled from Perth to Adelaide. Some years later I also undertook rides from Perth to Sydney and Perth to Hobart.

So far I’ve cycled across the Nullarbor five times. I’ve tackled the ride in my twenties, thirties and forties, but I haven’t attempted it in my fifties. That will all change next year when, at the age of 55, I’ll be back on my bike for another crossing of our wide, brown land. The thought of taking to the roads again both terrifies and thrills me.

So, what’s getting me back on my bike after all this time? For the past three and a half years I’ve been working for Compassion, a Christian international holistic child development organisation.

I’ve visited Compassion’s work in seven of the 25 developing countries we serve and I’ve met many children living in extreme poverty who are being released from poverty in Jesus’ name. 

I recall the faces of children like little Amanuel in Ethiopia. His mother stood on the dirt floor of their small, one-room home and told me through tears that neither of them would be alive if it weren’t for Compassion. That compels me to do whatever I can to bring hope to more children.

The Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast will see around 25 cyclists and their support crew travel more than 4,300 kilometres from Perth, WA to Newcastle, NSW. There will be 28 days of riding an average of just over 150 kilometres, with the biggest days reaching almost 200 kilometres.

There’s no denying that my aging body won’t find the journey as easy as it did 30 years ago, but I’m looking forward to cycling into Newcastle in October next year.

I’m still looking for some team members, both cyclists and support crew, who might like to join me on what will be an amazing adventure. If you’re looking to stretch yourself and make a difference for the most vulnerable people in our world—children living in poverty—I’ll keep an eye on my inbox for your email: rolsen@compassion.com.au 


*Aside from being a blogger and keen cyclist, Rodney Olsen is a relationship manager with Compassion Australia.


Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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