CHRIS Berkhout says you wouldn’t believe the head miles he racks-up in the early hours of the morning.
It’s when he thinks of his son’s premature death eight years ago.
Jarrod was 19 when he committed suicide in 2010.
Since then, his father has racked up many miles.
“You can’t believe the head miles I do at times, especially 2-3 o’clock in the morning when he did take his life and the worst time is the Saturday mornings,” he said.
On Thursday morning, Mr Berkhout will embark on another trek; a 200km ride from Tamworth to Inverell on his push bike.
It’s the fourth year he has set off peddling suicide awareness with his best mate Tezza riding shot-gun.
Chris and Tezza on the push bike are a familiar sight around Tamworth and he said the attention and reach of his ride has grown in recent years.
“In the middle of nowhere, I’ve had people pull up and say my farmhouse is just down the road there, pull in there and see my wife and get some water and anything you need,” he said.
“I have to go past Kingstown shop on the way.
“Last year I dropped and [the owner] said ‘I’ve been expecting you, I saw you on the news and in the paper’, that’s the kind of reception I get all the way.”
While it’s a personal vigil he has held each year, he said he rides for anyone in similar circumstances.
“Not only my son took his life, but my nephew took his life eight months before as well and that had an impact on me big time,” he said.
“I also do it for the dads, in particular, that have not necessarily lost their sons but have had their children taken from them because they were deemed unfit parents by the government also someone said they were not fit to be a dad.”
He said a number of people and organisations have thrown support his way this year too.
“That’s why, on my sign, I made that little note on there ‘supported by people and communities’,” he said.
While Tezza is his main companion on the road, she also breaks a lot of barriers around mental health in the community.
“She is that amazing, people have to stop to say hello to her, even when I am not doing this ride,” he said.
“They ask ‘can I pat your dog, can I take a photo of her on the bike?’
“It gives me a conversation starter in a way.”
Mr Berkhout’s ride starts at headspace at 8am on Thursday and he has encouraged people to join him for the first few kilometres of the trek.
If you need to talk, here are some services which can help: