Vilma FitzGerald is gearing up for the ride of a lifetime.
The School Officer for ECU's School of Exercise and Sports Science is getting ready to tackle the 740km Gibb River Challenge solo for the first time, with all money raised going towards Breast Cancer Care WA (BCCWA).
The charity mountain bike ride follows a course from Derby to El Questro in the Kimberley region of WA, with over 500 participants set to compete in either a team or solo ride.
For Ms Fitzgerald, cycling the Gibb has a special meaning. Her younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at 25 and passed away in 2008.
"My sister's passing away really affected me and this will be an opportunity to give something back to BCCWA in return for all the assistance provided over the years, not only to my sister and her family but also to other women and families that have also been affected by breast cancer," she said.
Ms Fitzgerald is not only riding for BCCWA but also for herself after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.
"I completed my first Gibb Challenge in a team relay only 10 months after my last operation in 2010 and participated again in 2011, so this cause is very dear to me."
This year's solo ride will be her toughest physical challenge yet.
"Past conditions have been very hot, humid, dusty, muddy and rough, with lots of steep hill climbs, so it's going to be a mental challenge as well to push through to the end.
"Some river crossings we are allowed to ride through, but some of which have crocodiles and luckily we are allowed to cross in the safety of a vehicle," Ms FitzGerald said.
"I'm pretty determined and I have been training hard so I can complete the 2012 Gibb Challenge as a solo rider, but it's going to be fun riding with the 'Gibbies' again."