Ex 2RAR soldier Beau King served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the horrific experiences leaving the scars of PTSD. After dropping the 20kg gained while drowning his sorrows post-service; on Saturday, January 31 Beau will ride 1439km from Brisbane to Townsville over nine days. He’ll put himself through the physical and mental struggle that many people live with daily to raise funds and awareness for veterans who are battling non-stop with depression and anxiety.
“It’s probably one of the hardest times to complete such a ride, but so many people are going through tougher situations”
Why did you decide to do this ride? Having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of a few fundraising events supporting soldiers with mental health. For me, this ride is something I can do to contribute: Not only for my health, but also for others who are struggling, while bringing more awareness to the community. That’s why I chose the distance and the time of year because of how hard these issues can be for people. It’s probably one of the hardest times to complete such a ride, but so many people are going through tougher situations with things like depression and anxiety. In a way I wanted to show people a comparison because – while I’ll be struggling over a few days – people live day-to-day in difficult situations when you’re struggling with an illness.
Have you ever done anything like this before? I’ve never attempted anything as far as this. Last year I did a three-day walk from Townsville to Airlie Beach with the Courage Training Centre team, raising money for veterans who suffer from mental health issues and injuries due to their service, and I’ll hopefully complete another walk in March after my ride.
What training have you done to prepare? It’s been a continuation from last year with training and playing touch football four days a week. On a normal day I’m doing about 80km on the bike, Castle Hill one to two times a day, and – when there’s enough time – I’ll do a circuit class at Courage Training Centre with Ian Bone. Working in the gym with Ian has been a massive help. He’s really shown me what I’m capable of and what I can achieve. Because of that, last year I was able to win a State Championship with the North Queensland Tropical Cyclones [touch football association] in Brisbane. Without his help and guidance none of this would have been possible. It comes down to a positive environment and positive people that you surround yourself with.
Do you have any concerns about anything on the journey? The only concern I have is making sure the body holds up well. Weather will be a large factor, plus making sure that I’m getting enough fluids to maintain myself throughout. My preparation has been good so I’m happy with where I’m at. As long as I’m focused, everything else will fall into place.
“Having both my two boys Kayden (7) and Lathan (6) join me for the last few hundred metres along The Strand: I don’t think there’s a more fitting way to finish”
What are you most looking forward to? Being able to share this with my family and friends who have supported me through this journey over the last few years. It’s been a struggle for not only myself, but also for them. Having both my two boys Kayden (7) and Lathan (6) join me for the last few hundred metres along The Strand: I don’t think there’s a more fitting way to finish, especially when you get to share it with your children. It will be a massive sense of accomplishment.
Why is PTSD an important issue for you? Having lived with PTSD now for 10 years it’s been an incredibly hard struggle. Knowing how hard it is on yourself, family and friends; and how hard I’ve had to work to get to where I am today; I want to be able to pass some of things that I have learnt on so people can detect it when things aren’t going right. Depression can affect friends, work colleagues, family members or someone that you may not know. Suicide is becoming an ever-growing issue in our society today and the more awareness that we can get out there, the more help we can give one another to get through those difficult situations.
What tips would you have for others planning to do long distance rides based on what you’ve learnt so far? Preparation is the biggest thing. For me there will be a lot of lessons learnt after the ride: things I needed to work harder on and implement. At the end of the day, if you can dream it you can achieve it. If anyone is attempting something like this then you need to believe in what you are doing, and you’re already winning. Attempting something for a greater goal than your own gain is never a failure.
You can support Beau by donating through his everyday hero account: www.everydayhero.com.au/event/VSA-RIDE-2015.
Beau is inviting riders to join him on any part of the journey. “This isn’t just for serving or ex serving members but anyone in the community who would like to be a part of something special. The more support from people, the more awareness and one step closer to bridging the gap with mental health.”
He arrives in Townsville on Sunday, February 8. Email him on [email protected] for more information.