Andrew and Mel enjoyed their time on the BVRT so much they're coming back for more.
Andrew and Mel enjoyed their time on the BVRT so much they're coming back for more. Contributed

Bloody Long Ride take two

Cycling: After the overwhelming success of their first Bloody Long Ride in November last year, Mel Behrens-Macaulay and husband Andrew Macaulay will take a small group with them on their next foray along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.

"It's interesting that a railway built to bring communities together (so long ago) is still bringing communities together, even if it's not for what it was originally built for,” Andrew said.

After getting a taste of the BVRT on their first Bloody Long Ride, Mel and Andrew returned to the South Burnett in December to ride the Rail Trail in its entirety, and now they cannot get enough.

"We're doing the full length of the BVRT, riding from (Yarraman) into Brisbane,” Mel said.

"It's absolutely beautiful to ride on and everything is so accessible.”

The couple raised more than $3800 for the Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation on the 1300km trek from Hervey Bay to Sydney last year, but after overwhelming interest from the general public they decided to shorten their August trip to finish in Brisbane.

"Last year we had so many people inbox us saying 'that's so inspiring, I would love to come with you it's just too far',” Mel said.

"So we thought to make it more achievable for the average person - to use it as a training goal, and allow people to say 'wow, look what I did'.

"And of course, to bring awareness to the (Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation) at the same time.”

The cause is an important one for Mel, who was diagnosed with mito almost two decades ago after she began to show symptoms.

Mito is difficult to diagnose because of its ability to affect any organ at any stage and at any age, with the AMDF estimating up to one in 200 Australians may carry genetic mutations that put them at risk.

"Mito isn't as rare as we think it is,” Mel said.

"Many go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Many carry genetics and for reasons unknown it doesn't trigger - which is a good thing - but it may be passed on to their children or grandchildren.”

The group of 12 - Mel, Andrew and ten others - will converge on Yarraman in August to begin the lengthy journey. But the hard work has already started.

"We have a team of people training already,” Mel said.

"We want to make sure that for anyone coming on the BVRT that they're fit enough to enjoy the experience.

"As personal trainers and mountain bike coaches we are writing a program to ensure they are in condition to come with us.

"We have groups training locally, some on the Sunshine Coast and also down in Brisbane.”

Mel said the support of the South Burnett community made the decision to travel the Rail Trail an easy one.

"The community have really embraced what we're doing,” Mel said.

"Tanya Smith (BVRT community president) is just fabulous, she sent me a whole list of accommodation, the councils we will go through and people to contact.”

There are still three spaces available on the Bloody Long Ride team.

"Get in contact with us to register your interest,” Mel said.

"If you're keen to do it and have the right equipment, we'll set you up.

"People who want to be involved but for whatever reason can't do the ride are welcome to join us at the Bloody Long Walk (in South Bank) instead.”

Message the Facebook page, 'TheBloodyLongRide' or phone Mel and Andrew on 0401940862 for more information.

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