HALE School student Taj Mueller (16) will tackle his fifth and final Gibb River Challenge alone, making him the youngest solo rider this year.
The Karrinyup resident last year completed the 660km, five-day cycling event from the Kimberley town of Derby to El Questro Wilderness Park with his father David, but wanted to mark 2017 with a solo effort.
A drive to complete the challenge runs in the family, with his mum Lisa and grandad Colin also giving it a go in the past.
“I’ve done it four times before and I’ve done it in teams every time, and in a duo with dad last year,” he said.
“Pretty much as soon as I finished the ride last year I decided to do this one alone because it will be my last year I’ll be able to do it. Next year I will be focusing on my Year 12 studies.”
Though he is experienced with the ride, Taj said he had had to step up his training and preparation for this year’s ride, which starts on May 21.
“I am doing lots of water polo, lots of swimming at the moment; I’m trying to do 150km riding on the weekend in one go. Then leading up to the event I’ll try to do 300km a week, then some bigger rides to prepare,” he said.
“The first day of the challenge is 220km.”
His efforts have received a boost from his Hale School classmates, who will host a Tie Free Day and a barbecue, with funds going to Youth Beyond Blue.
“I chose Youth Beyond Blue because it’s really relevant for people around our age; I had a friend back in Broome who suffered from mental health illnesses,” he said.
To sponsor Taj to get him to the starting line, contact Lisa and Dave at monscapes.com.au.
To donate, go to https:// give.everydayhero.com/au/ solo-mountain-bike-challenge-for-youth-beyond-blue.