It took Daniel Fitzgerald one water bottle at a time to get through a colossal cross-country journey, all in the name of mental health.
The 22-day bike ride of more than 3100km, from Esperance to his hometown of Omeo was completed by the Halls Head man this month.
In order to not get overwhelmed, Mr Fitzgerald and his support crew took the journey piece by piece, stopping hourly for food, water and a short rest before racking up between 100-300km per day.
"There were days when your body would be screaming, and other days when it was easy, and you wouldn't even want to stop," Mr Fitzgerald said.
It was a trip through nature, regional towns, the desert and the countryside in an ever-changing, uniquely Australian setting.
"We had so much fun, we had radio communications and we were just laughing all the time," Mr Fitzgerald said.
When the Mail spoke to Mr Fitzgerald last he mentioned he was nervous about the long days of crossing the 'endless' Nullabor.
But it was here where Mr Fitzgerald said he experienced being "in the zone".
"There was a day where we had really helpful tailwinds. We ended up doing 300km that day, that's how hard the wind was.
"The last 30km was really hard, but I wanted to reach 300km, because when would I ever be able to ride that in one day again?" he said.
Mr Fitzgerald said he liked to "stay ahead of the game," putting him in a good mindset.
But Mr Fitzgerald's journey wasn't without moments of doubt.
Day 17 is remembered as being particularly difficult.
He was travelling from Mildura to Balranald, but the windy and wet conditions were against him.
"Everything felt like it was going wrong, I couldn't get comfortable on the bike, a couple of cars nearly hit me and I was so wound up," he said.
At one of the stops, with his heart rate and breathing through the roof, Mr Fitzgerald got off his bike, buried his face in a towel and cried.
"I let myself have 10 minutes," he said.
Without the support crew, Mr Fitzgerald said in that moment, he didn't think he'd get back on the bike.
His perseverance was rewarded with clear cycling conditions for the rest of trip, and he pressed on to ride 180km that day.
"It's funny, half an hour later it just cleared up, and by lunch time we were having a good laugh about it."
In another turn of events, the following day, Mr Fitzgerald said he had one of the best days of the journey.
"In 24 hours I went from being done, to feeling just peace."
At night, Mr Fitzgerald stayed in a caravan towed by his friend Jamie, and Jamie's eldest daughter.
"He treated me like a king, he made my lunch for me every day, in the mornings he'd make me coffee, the best coffee in Australia, I'd say.
"He went to another level."
It was just the three of them until they arrived in Ceduna, where Jamie's partner Hannah, and their children joined them.
Also joining the journey was Mr Fitzgerald's mate Simon, who assisted with a support car, taking the pressure off Jamie and his family with the caravan.
Also comprising the crew, cheering from the side of the roads with soft toys and dances, was Mr Fitzgerald's sister Tammy and her children.
As well as his friends and family, the spirit of his late friend Whelan guided him through each day.
"I had a photo of Whelan, and my kids on my bike.
"I felt like they were there with me. I would find myself speaking to them out loud, to pump myself up and getting a bit of energy from that."
Mr Fitzgerald said he didn't know how he was going to train for the high altitude ride through Mount Hotham, and thought he would "just deal with it when he got there".
A friend recommended a local Mandurah business, Rise to Shine Wellbeing; which specialises in breath work.
In the lead up, Mr Fitzgerald did breath work training daily, a max of five reps per day, helping to build his carbon dioxide threshold.
This training involved walking until he ran out of breath, and then running until he couldn't run anymore.
On the mountain, Mr Fitzgerald had no issue meeting the challenge.
"I can't describe that day. It was something else."
This was the third time Mr Fitzgerald felt "in the zone".
A friend from Omeo organised to have CFA vehicles escort Mr Fitzgerald up Mount Hotham, and rode alongside him for a while.
"That was really special that day, to have someone riding with me, for the first time, was really nice."
He was meant to be having a rest stop at a point called 'Danny's lookout', but in not wanting to break his focus, rode straight past everyone waiting at the stop.
"I just kept going, I couldn't stop, I didn't want to stop."
The last stretch of the ride saw what Mr Fitzgerald said "looked like the whole town of Omeo" waving and cheering from fields, to a big gathering at the Golden Age Hotel, marking the finish line.
Jamie swapped the caravan for a bike, and rode the last 10km with Mr Fitzgerald.
At the final kilometre, children were lined up on their bikes ready to help Mr Fitzgerald finish the ride.
"They shouted, 'lets get wheelin'!', they were so good, we just rolled the last kilometre into town."
That moment was a blur of cheering, high fives, hugs and tears in a commotion Mr Fitzgerald said was "indescribable", and made him emotional to think about, even now.
"Kids were asking me for autographs, I wasn't ready for that," he said, laughing.
Mr Fitzgerald said a lot of people wondered how he would feel after completing such a massive goal.
"I'm just totally satisfied with it.
"It's given me a lot of self-confidence too, knowing I can overcome something that challenging."
Since the journey, Mr Fitzgerald has been getting back to normality as the fundraising money for the Black Dog Institute is finalised.
With an original goal of $4000, 'Wheelin to the mountains' has raised more than $40,000.
"Someone in the crowd at the finish line said, 'you brought Whelan back to the mountains', and I'll always remember that."
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