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Pedalling to power asbestos research

To many, a 24-hour solo mountain bike race sounds challenging enough – but for local cyclist Justin Barrasch, he was after something on a grander scale.

Now he is gearing up to ride 5,500km across Australia while raising funds to advance medical research into asbestos-related disease. It is a cause close to Justin as he and his young family were exposed to asbestos having lived in a Mr Fluffy house in Canberra.

Unlike the immediate impact of a fire or a flood, Justin said the outcome of Mr Fluffy is “hidden” and “it’s likely to manifest so far in the future it is easy to disconnect from the situation”.

It is partly for this reason that he has decided to raise funds for the National Centre of Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD) at QEII Medical Centre in Perth. NCARD has streams of research related to the early detection, treatment and prevention of malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

“If you are middle aged and get exposed [to asbestos], by the time you get any health consequences you are elderly … but when you apply that timeframe to children, you are looking at when they are 20,” he said.

“I do this for all those impacted by asbestos, and in the hopes that if my children ever need help in the future as a result of their own exposure, they can access the medical help they need.”

Starting on Saturday 16 March, Justin will be riding from Fremantle, WA to Sydney as part of the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, a self-supported cycling race.

He said he has allowed himself a month to complete the race but is aiming to finish as close to three weeks as possible. Per day, he expects to travel 270km, actively pedalling for 14 hours.

His ethos is based around three things – eating, cycling (or both) and “if not doing either of those, sleeping”.

For more information, to donate, or track Justin’s race progress visit thebikepacker.org and follow the links.

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