MEL Cockshutt and Bennett Powell are known around Port Macquarie as Port’s dynamic duo – and it’s with good reason.
Most days you can see them both training together, usually in preparation for a triathlon or an upcoming Ironman event.
But over the next three months their preparations will ramp up as they aim to be in the best possible shape for a gruelling nine day, 1100-kilometre ride for cancer between Mackay, Cape Tribulation and Cairns.
It’s a ride that is close to Cockshutt’s heart after daughter Alani was diagnosed with leukaemia 10 years ago.
“That one second where you’re told your daughter has cancer really does change everything,” Cockshutt said.
“She was diagnosed when she was four and the treatment she has had since then has kept her alive. You’re in a bit of a daze after it and hopefully we never have that phone call again.
“It’s why (this ride) means a lot to me.”
Cockshutt said the training both her and Powell have done is nothing like she has ever experienced before – and that takes into account countless Ironman’s.
That one second where you’re told your daughter has cancer really does change everything.Mel Cockshutt
“I haven’t trained this much before – even for an Ironman,” she said.
The duo will be part of a group of 150 riders in the tour who will need to cover up to 140 kilometres each day, but they’re looking forward to it.
“Myself and Benno don’t like doing things by halves and it’s for a cause that’s close to my heart,” Cockshutt said.
“Benno loves meeting people, but it’s going to be tough. We’ve got dinners and fundraisers every day so it’ll be a full-on nine days.”
Surprisingly, Cockshutt believed the most significant challenge that they will both face will be the mental fatigue.
“There will be a lot of concentration required every day and the hardest part will probably be keeping safe on the road,” she said.
Myself and Benno don’t like doing things by halves and it’s for a cause that’s close to my heart.Mel Cockshutt
She said her tour partner’s attitude to life was something more people should embrace.
“Bennett’s got learning and physical challenges, but he just doesn’t care, he wants to try everything,” she said.
“I think it shows everyone that you just need to have a crack.”
On Saturday, Bennett’s Brew was launched – a premium coffee blend – with $10 from every bag sold going towards the final fundraising efforts.
“It’s not bitter, but it is a strong blend. It’s pretty smooth,” Cockshutt said.
A black tie ball will also be held on February 17.