Long ride for Black Dog

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian

Ben Woods and Matthew Mooney had only met once before deciding to travel thousands of kilometres around Australia together to raise money and awareness of mental health research and prevention organisation the Black Dog Institute.

Linked by a mutual friend who was prepared to join them before breaking his hip, the two Sydney-siders are completing the Ride for Jase, a long-distance bike ride around Australia in memory of Mr Woods’ brother Jason.

During their brief stop in Geraldton recently, Mr Woods said he and Mr Mooney were making the journey to bring the conversation about mental health into the open.

“On November 17, 2015, my brother Jason took his own life,” Mr Woods said.

“It was two months before my wedding and he was to be my best man.

“We had a shared dream to travel Australia together, and after his death I wanted to use the energy I saw surrounding Jase and channel it into helping others.

“I’m taking Jason’s ashes with me, so we’re doing it together.”

Mr Mooney, who struggles with depression, is completing part of the journey with Mr Woods, riding from Exmouth to Perth.

The 26-year-old said even though he and Mr Woods were only acquaintances before the bike ride, he felt personally motivated to partici-pate.

“I had only met Ben once before, at a friend’s wedding back in February,” Mr Mooney said.

“A mutual friend of ours encouraged me to come along with them, but then he broke his hip and couldn’t go any more, and I thought to myself, ‘Do I even still go? I don’t even know this guy’.

“But I suffer from depression and so do a few members of my family, my father in particular, so I felt it was important for me to do it for them.”

Mr Woods began the Ride for Jase in June, and so far has travelled about 20,000km.

He is scheduled to finish his journey on February 10.

“There’s definitely been tough days,” he said.

“We’ve had days of 45-degree heat and 50 degrees plus in the Northern Territory.

“There have been strong headwinds, but we average about six or seven hours a day and get about 150km in a day completed.”

The two riders, along with Mr Woods’ wife Kat, his mother and her partner, were hosted in Geraldton by Rotary Club of Batavia Coast president Lee Corrigan.

The Ride for Jase has raised $235,000 of a $300,000 goal for the Black Dog Institute.

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