Blake Herlihy had a lot to celebrate when he finally got off his bike at 5am on Sunday 17 October.
He had just completed his first ever 24-hour circuit ride in Palm Beach, Queensland, riding a continuous 4.8km loop and achieving a total distance of 650km.
While falling short of his 700km goal due to a bike malfunction in the wee hours of the morning, which took him out of the saddle for over an hour, Blake was incredibly happy with his time.
“Over the ride, I achieved a 35km average time, a speed which never dropped by more than a kilometer. Being able to keep up that pace when you are basically just riding in circles is something I’m really proud of,” says Blake.
And that feeling of pride was only set to increase. In a hospital not far away, his sister was doing the hard work of making him an uncle for the first time.
Blake says: “I had predicted a few weeks back that my sister would go into labour during my ride. And she did!
“My family didn’t tell me until I had finished. She gave birth to my niece Violet after a 48-hour labour, so we joke about how my 24-hour ride was much easier in comparison!
“I’m still recovering from this physical and emotional journey. I’ve just completed my longest every continuous ride, I’m an uncle to a beautiful baby girl, and I’ve raised over $10,000 for World Bicycle Relief. It’s been an incredible time in my life.”
Blake first became aware of World Bicycle Relief through Lachlan Morton, an Australian cyclist who recently beat the Tour de France peloton to Paris. With the support of E
F Education-Nippo and Rapha, Lachlan’s Morton’s Alt Tour raised significant funds for World Bicycle Relief.
“I was interested to know more, so I watched Founder FK Day’s Ted Talk and just felt really connected to the work.
“It is so easy for us to take cycling for granted. So many people have a bike that sits in the garage for 6 months of the year and never gets used.
“It’s really important to be reminded of how valuable a bicycle can be. It means children can get to school, and healthcare workers can reach their patients. It’s so simple yet so amazing.”
“It’s really important to be reminded of how valuable a bicycle can be. It’s so simple yet so amazing.”
For Blake, supporting World Bicycle Relief is also an important way to give back to a sport that has personally given him so much.
“The bike has become a tool to keep creating purpose in my life and I will forever be grateful for all it has taught me.”
Blake is setting new cycling challenges for the year ahead. While he had to postpone a planned ride from the Gold Coast to Perth due to border closures, he is hoping to reschedule this for March 2022.
“Journey riding, where you have a set destination, is very different to doing a circuit, as you are constantly being stimulated by the changing scenery.
“For my 24-hour ride, I really needed to be in a different mental state. Because you are just repeating a loop, it’s much more meditative.
“The ride to Perth, however, will give me the opportunity to explore new places, and meet and connect with people along the way. It’s not a race but a marathon, and I want to take around 2-3 months to complete it.”
World Bicycle Relief will again be his chosen charity for this epic adventure, with funds raised by Blake ensuring that people living in rural communities around the world can access education, healthcare, and jobs that might otherwise be out of reach.
Blake also hopes to share his own #PowerOfBicycles story.
“When I started cycling in 2015, I used the bike to gain mental clarity. After spending 15 years as a concreter in the construction industry, I was feeling burnt out.
“I took up cycling at a time when I really needed it the most. Now, being on my bike is my place of reflection. It helps me put things into perspective and makes everyday life hurdles become easier to navigate.
“Cycling gives me freedom, both physically and mentally.”