Ed Forrester is on a mission to raise awareness of the dramatic decline in Australia’s endangered species. A novice cyclist, the dedicated environmentalist set himself the challenge of riding 1043 kilometres in eight weeks, building up his strength and endurance to undertake the Greater Sydney Bike Trail.
This popular cyclist’s circuit, 85% of which follows bike paths, is a marked route encompassing scenic sections of metropolitan Sydney. Ed’s circumnavigation will see him take off from the Sydney Opera House, over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then out west, eventually returning to Sydney Cove via a long and challenging, albeit visually fascinating, route that also traverses the western shores of Botany Bay.
Having built up his fitness over shorter distances throughout the past two months, Ed is set to undertake this momentous challenge this Sunday, 31 December, throughout the closing hours of 2023.
Then he will have completed his target: 1043 kilometres.
Manly Observer caught up with Ed at Manly Wharf as he was preparing for his final challenge, leaner and fitter than when he began training on 7 November.
1043, why this number?
“I’ve decided to ride 1043km in eight weeks to raise awareness of the 1043 species that are threatened with extinction in NSW,” he revealed. “This includes popular animals such as the green turtle and the southern right whale. The challenge will culminate in a 150km bike ride which hopefully will take about 8 hours.”
He continued, “The 1043 endangered species in New South Wales were listed in the 2021 State of the Environment Report, which was released in 2022, because the Morrison administration suppressed it until after the federal election.
“And it is quite shocking that there are so many species that are endangered. Hopefully, most people are aware of the climate crisis that we’re in, but we’re really actually in a twin crisis, the biodiversity crisis as well, which we rely on for clean air, clean water for our medicine, for our food. So, in my own small way, I was trying to raise awareness of that issue.”
Ed’s ride is also a fundraising event. Which organisation is he raising money for?
“70% of the state’s biodiversity lives in our national parks,” he said. “So I’m raising money for the National Parks Association of NSW (NPANSW), whose job it is to care for our national parks. They are chronically underfunded and understaffed, with the value of our biodiversity not publicly understood…
“I don’t think anyone’s actually raised money for them before,” he considered. “You can give donations but I had to set up a proper sponsorship webpage.… They’ve got huge areas to look after, like Kosciuszko National Park, Lane Cove National Park – which is one that I cycle through on the challenge route – and the Royal National Park; these are huge areas of land that they’re responsible for. It takes a massive amount of resources to look after those, so, I’m just trying to help them out in a small way…”
How is his training coming along?
“I’m currently riding between 25km and 30km, three times a week, into the city, and then a larger ride on Sunday mornings to build up to 150km.”
What is the Greater Sydney Bike Trail?
It ostensibly starts at the Sydney Opera House (although participants can begin anywhere and travel either clockwise or counter-clockwise). From there the epic ride crosses the Harbour Bridge north to Macquarie Park, heads west to Quakers Hill, south to Preston, then southeast to Cronulla.
Thereafter the marathon trek returns north, following the coastline through the Eastern Suburbs, until it eventually rolls back into Sydney Cove.
Participants are expected to pass four significant markers to complete the circuit: Lachlan’s Line Bridge in North Ryde, Lizard Log in Western Sydney Parklands, Woronora Bridge in Sutherland, and Centennial Park in Randwick on the home run.
A shorter, 150km version of the Greater Sydney Bike Trail is also possible, which is the one Ed will be undertaking, but to complete it cyclists are expected to include the same aforementioned four markers.
“150 kilometres is a really long way for someone who’s slow and not very good at cycling, like me!” Ed chuckles. “It’s about eight hours constant riding… But the route goes through some nice places. And it’s a great way to see parts of Sydney that I’ve never seen before!”
Ed’s Greater Sydney Bike Trail Challenge donation page: https://npansw.org.au/the-greater-sydney-bike-trail-challenge/
Greater Sydney Bike Trail route: https://bicyclensw.org.au/the-greater-sydney-bike-trail/