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The Fathering Project’s Big Push bike ride heading to Canberra

After months of preparation, 32 riders comprising of fathers, father-son duos and even grandfathers are coming together tomorrow for The Fathering Project’s Big Push fundraiser, a two-and-a-half day, 325km ride from Sydney to Canberra.

A day before setting off, the team has successfully raised over $100,000 to go towards two specific programs: a dads and disability program; and a community fathering initiative in the Wollongong area addressing generational fatherlessness.

For event director Sean Johns, the last few months have involved a healthy balance of raising funds and spending time in the saddle to prepare for the long haul.

“Guys like me have got in lycra for the first time,” he smiled, “I love it, it’s great, I’ve been hooked.”

“You have to be a little bit formal in this because it is so far, each of the riders has gone through a rigorous process give us confidence they won’t struggle.”

Taking off from the Picton Showgrounds tomorrow at 6.15am, the peloton will take a scenic route along country roads; riding through Bargo, Bowral and Moss Vale before meeting at Bundanoon Public School for lunch.

From there, they will head to Marulan before stopping off at Goulburn for the night.

On Saturday, they will cruise toward Eaglehawk via Breadalbane, Gunning, Gundaroo and Sutton.

On Sunday, the riders will be greeted at Margaret Hendy School in Taylor for breakfast before finishing at 10.30am on the Parliament House Lawns.

“We should have gone from Canberra to Sydney, it would have been downhill,” Mr Johns smiled. “I’ll feel a lot better on Monday”.

The crew will be aided by 20 volunteers in support vehicles at the front and back of the pelotons.

This is the second time The Fathering Project Big Push has been held. The first ride took place in 2019 with 20 cyclists raising $40,000 and the 2020 iteration had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions.

The national charity currently maintains community partnerships with two ACT schools – Charles Conder Primary and Margaret Hendy School.

Their main programs are currently in 500 schools nationally, with a goal to expand to 1,000 by the end of the year.

Mr Johns said in a year’s time, he envisages “a lot more” than the two current Canberra schools will be engaged.

“I have no doubt, it’s really been about our resources,” he said.

Their rapid growth in New South Wales saw 140 schools sign up in term four last year, and another 40 in first term of 2021.

“We know when we work with Canberra now and get to talk to the right channels, we’re such a positive program there are no losers; the schools win, the dads win, the kids win, and their partners win,” he said.

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