OUT on the open road, Aaron Hester can clear his mind.
With two wheels between him and the bitumen as he puts miles into his legs, he’s also got time to think and reflect.
The Ascot Vale man is preparing to cycle from Coonawarra in South Australia to Carlton to honour the life of his daughter, Lily, and help fight childhood cancers.
The trip will be an opportunity to raise money for the Live for Lily foundation which was formed shortly after the nine-year-old’s death in August, 2014.
Just three months after Lily passed away, her mum, Sianne, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
“Riding allows me to have time to think and just go to my thoughts,” Mr Hester said.
“Sometimes to be alone and spiritually just to think. It gives me a purpose in a time when it’s very difficult with everything that’s gone on.”
Lily’s cancer was discovered in July 2013 after an ultrasound.
“The doctors had thought it was a virus but the test turned up three tumours in her liver,” Mr Hester said.
“We started chemo within a couple of days. Our world was turned upside down.”
“It was on and off for the year and we thought we were in remission in January. But when we got the next lot of scans it turned out it was in multiple places, one in the liver, in her oesophagus,” Mr Hester said.
He recalled his daughter as “an adventurer”.
“She was very outgoing and very sincere and loveable,” Mr Hester said.
“She loved spending time with us. Her favourite pastime was to go camping and be outside, she was a really outside type of kid.
“She also loved playing basketball and dancing. She was a really healthy and happy little girl.”
The ride has been a while in the making. It was originally set for December 2014 before Sianne was struck down with her own battle.
“In December last year Sianne relapsed and I spoke to the oncologist who advised us to reduce the workload — it’s down from 2000km to about 800km now and that gives her (Sianne) the opportunity to be there,” Mr Hester said.
About 11 riders will pull on the Lycra for the six-day event from April 5, with Sianne planning to join them as a passenger in the support car.
“With a bit of luck hopefully she’ll be out of hospital and will be with us,” Mr Hester said.