Epic Nullarbor trek to help defence force soldiers

Emily AceSouth Western Times
Bunbury man Vikram Cheema is on top of the world after conquering a gruelling 5500km solo ride from Fremantle to Sydney in 20 days.
Camera IconBunbury man Vikram Cheema is on top of the world after conquering a gruelling 5500km solo ride from Fremantle to Sydney in 20 days. Credit: Jon Gellweiler/South Western Times

Battling strong headwinds, march fly attacks, steep hills and fatigue, South West Cycle Club member Vikram Cheema cycled a mind-boggling 5500km from Fremantle to Sydney, unsupported, to complete a personal challenge and raise money for charity.

Mr Cheema joined 53 other riders to take part in the unofficial Indian Pacific Wheel Race, departing on March 17 at 8.20pm.

Vikram Cheema on the 90 mile straight.
Camera IconVikram Cheema on the 90 mile straight. Credit: Vikram Cheema

“I watched the 2017 Indian Pacific Wheel Race with great interest and I was amazed by the extraordinary achievement to complete the ride by ordinary people,” he said.

“I think that the proposition of crossing the whole Australian continent from west to east on my bicycle and the chance of visiting places never seen before was highly attractive to me.”

Camera IconCredit: Vikram Cheema

Mr Cheema said another major factor was to help Mates4Mates, raising $2000 for the organisation which supports current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members and their families who were wounded, injured or ill as a result of their service.

Most riders carried GPS location devices which could be live tracked online.

Camera IconCredit: Vikram Cheema

“Family and friends could see where individual riders were at any given time of the day or night,” he said.

“The tracking website mapprogress.com was also open to public.

Camera IconCredit: Vikram Cheema

“Along my journey, I met many awesome people – known as the trail angels – who welcomed and greeted me and other riders.

“Many such trail angels offered water, food and accommodation.”

Camera IconCredit: Vikram Cheema

Some of the long stretches required careful consideration for the required food and water to make it to the next roadhouse and Mr Cheema said the hills between Adelaide and Sydney were relentless.

“The total accumulated ascent on my Garmin GPS equals 40241 meters,” he said.

“I will remember the steep hills around Falls Creek and Cabramurra for a long time.”

Camera IconCredit: Vikram Cheema

But he said the most challenging aspect was managing fatigue and a lack of proper sleep.

Sleeping less than four hours on average and riding 280km every 24 hours, Mr Cheema arrived at the Sydney Opera House on April 6 at 4.25pm.

Camera IconCredit: Vikram Cheema

“Overall this was a humbling experience for me and I couldn’t have completed such ride without the support of my family, friends and members of the South West Cycle Club,” he said.

“I have been living in Australia for well over 21 years and never thought the first time I would cross the Nullarbor would be on a pushbike.”

Vikram Cheema at the end of his gruelling journey.
Camera IconVikram Cheema at the end of his gruelling journey. Credit: Vikram Cheema

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