Alone and in stifling heat, a rider pedals the Burnett Hwy
IT'S a rare thing to see a bike rider on the Burnett Highway, let alone during an unseasonably warm October.
However, motorists on the highway between Monto and Ban Ban Springs yesterday would have seen a lone cyclist clad in pink lycra, trucks whooshing past her on the narrow shoulder.
Three weeks ago, Joayn Hedges, for her 53rd birthday, resolved to ride 5300km to try and raise $53,000 to sponsor 53 children at a Christian-based community school in Zambia.
After starting at her home suburb of Victoria Point in Brisbane, where she manages a cafe, Mrs Hedges' route took her through Warwick, Longreach, Winton, Julia Creek, Normanton, Croydon, Ravenshoe, Port Douglas, Ingham, Charters Towers, Emerald, right through the North Burnett and down to Goomeri.
Today, she passes through the Mooloolah Valley and tomorrow she will arrive back in Victoria Point to a rapturous reception from her customers at the cafe.
She's overcome challenges along the way, particularly the heat.
"It's been brutally hot. It's something that we weren't expecting, it almost broke me,” Mrs Hedges said.
She will also end up falling about 1000km short of her 53000km goal, due to car rides with her husband when the road has been too dangerous or inclement weather has forced her inside.
But for Mrs Hedges, a member of the Victoria Point Baptist Church, it's been more than worth it.
"I am beyond exhausted - I'm not an athlete, I'm just a mum who wanted to do something for someone else,” she said.
"There are about 500 children at this school, which is designed simply for the poorest of the poor.
"Without us and without the money we've been raising, these kids would never receive an education, they would never have been able to achieve their God-given talent.”
She's so far raised about $37,000.
"I'm stoked, I don't mind if I don't reach $53,000, I just had to have a target,” Mrs Hedges said.
"For me, anything above $0 was a bonus because I had nothing before I started.”
Each year since 2009, when she started with a ride from Brisbane to Canberra, Mrs Hedges has ridden annually to raise money for the school, Eagle's Nest.
She was inspired when a friend from church went to visit the school on a mission trip.
"I told her I was glad it was her and not me because it wasn't my thing and she mentioned that maybe I'd like to do a bike ride for the school,” Mrs Hedges recalled.
"And I said, 'I could do that'.
"God did change my heart, I went to Africa in 2011 and 2013 and made some lovely friends.
"Really, our lives have been forever changed.”