13. Lauchlan Denny

2 Nov

Not many 15 year old boys are able to raise over $11,000, complete a 9 day solo cycling trek from Melbourne to Sydney and all to benefit disadvantaged school children in Kathmandu, Nepal. Lauchlan Denny isn’t like any other 15 year old boy; he is already making a difference in this world, one pedal at a time.

Lauchlan has been cycling since last September, when he began training. This young man uses the words “freedom, independence and enjoyment” to describe his new found love: cycling. Unlike many 15 year olds who have a love for video games, Home and Away, or Facebook, Lauchlan’s passion has encouraged him to achieve greatness beyond imagination – all in the name of charity.

Lauchlan’s journey is something that words cannot describe – 9 days of hard work, pain and torture, which even he admits was the “hardest thing I’ve ever done”. It was an amazing feat of over 1,000 kilometres, something that a lot of us could never imagine completing.

Lauchlan attended an information evening held by World Challenge. World Challenge are an organisation that takes teams of high school students trekking in third world countries and encourages them to play an integral part in the planning, fundraising and participation of a chosen community project whist there.  He thought of the bike ride as something he could do akin to Shane Crawford’s inspiring walk from Adelaide to Melbourne to raise money for breast cancer. It was this which helped Lauchlan decide he wanted to sign up to raise money to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than himself.  Always one for adventure, Lauchlan loved the idea of travelling to Nepal with its extreme conditions, as well as the opportunity to experience a culture unique and so different from our own.

He soon learned how difficult it is to fundraise being a non celebrity or unknown!  The money was mainly raised through company sponsorships and individual donations.  Sadly, he was repeatedly knocked back by the big corporations who mostly send the standard email response ‘unfortunately we do not sponsor individuals.’  This is quite deflating for someone who is driven to a cause, however his never give up attitude was necessary to succeed.

Fortunately, a few local businesses got behind his efforts and believed in his ability to successfully carry out what most thought was impossible for his age having a lack of cycling experience.  For example, on his arrival at his first town, Mansfield Cycling Club kindly offered him the opportunity on arrival to set up at their registration sign on for a major weekend alpine ride, where fellow cyclists could donate money to Lauchlan’s cause. Opportunities such as these meant a lot, and was a great way to kick off fundraising for the World Challenge project at the conclusion of his long and painful ride on day 1. 

Telling us of the journey to Sydney, Lauchlan explains that the first and second days were the hardest. After Day 1, he couldn’t walk properly after getting off his bike, which is not surprising considering the first day started at the Melbourne CBD and ended in Mansfield, a 200 kilometre effort! But he says it became “progressively easier… I felt like I got stronger.” From there, he then travelled through areas like Beechworth, Junee, Young, Cowra and Bathurst and finally reached the Sydney CBD, where by then he was understandably relieved to have completed what he set out to, although body tired and exhausted.

Although his sports performance coaches warned there would likely be a slump in attitude around day two or three of such an endurance event, for Lauchlan, this depressive state did not come. His mother, who was with him throughout the journey, says he simply became “more and more determined”. He did have with him a “support crew” of his mum, his grandad and his friend Jake to help and encourage him along the way, and most importantly ensure his safety.

Lauchlan could not hide the smile on his face when modestly acknowledging the idea of being named the next Cadel Evans. Living in an area not far from where Cadel grew up, he is someone whose heights Lauchlan aspires to, particularly with his extraordinary achievements in the Tour de France. Some have labelled Lauchlan as the next Cadel, and this is a prospect he is certainly most eager to fulfil, being thrilled at such a comparison to his hero.

It’s easy to imagine the shock he received when he gained an invite to an exclusive ceremony hosted by Premier Ted Bailieu in Cadel’s honour with special guest Cadel himself! Lauchlan told us with a grin “it was pretty cool” to meet Cadel  and he was very excited at the opportunity. When his mum first came home with the news of his invitation to the event, apparently Lauchy could not believe his ears. His talk with Cadel is now all a bit of a blur, due to the excitement of meeting someone who he very much looks up to. An amazing night was topped off with the Premier mentioning Lauchlan’s solo ride fundraising efforts in his opening speech. Lauchlan was able to chat to Mr Ballieu who was well informed of all that Lauchy had been through, and showed genuine interest in his achievements.

Lauchlan assured us, most eagerly, that cycling is definitely something he is considering as a career. After returning from a long journey that required a lot of endurance, Lauchy explained he has now started looking towards racing as something to take up and has joined a local cycling club. Getting this glimpse of how motivated Lauchlan is in continuing the sport he’s come to love is very inspiring, and it’s easy to see his passion shine through despite his young age.  Lauchlan feels to be able to give back to others through something you happen to be good at no matter your age is very rewarding and satisfying in itself.

Endurance sport takes a lot out of a young growing body. After many months, Lauchlan feels he is almost fully recovered after his long journey, but there is no way that he has stopped riding! He continues to cycle in his spare time and says he also gets pleasure just from riding for fun. Recently he was awarded an ESS Athlete Development Scholarship, where he hopes to build on and develop his skills and abilities in cycling for future success.
Next year at school Lauchlan will be doing a broad range of subjects and apart from cycling he is considering sports science as a future pathway. “Fitting in training and school can sometimes be hard” says Lauchlan, yet it appears he is balancing his commitments very well.

An extraordinarily talented cyclist with a great amount to look forward to in his future, Lauchlan Denny is sure to be a success. He has already proven what fantastic heights he can reach simply by setting his mind to it, and shown that it’s important to give anything a go. Watch this space, as we have no doubt that one day we’ll be celebrating Lauchlan’s win in the Tour de France.

Words By: Annabelle Pendlebury and Joely Mitchell

Photos by: Sean Porter

© Sean Porter 2011

 

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