THIS time last year, Nick Locandro proudly tackled the Australian Gran Fondo National Championship in Buninyong with his father watching on. It is one of Nick’s last memories with his dad, who died with younger dementia soon after.
Nick has since trained up to contest his first Cycling Australia men’s elite road race in Buninyong on Sunday. But his biggest cycling challenge is ahead in September.
To honour his dad, Nick has mapped out an ambitious 2000-kilometre ride in 14 days from Uluru – where the family had its last holiday together – to their hometown Ballarat. A Ride to Remember aims to raise $20,000 to raise awareness and fight younger onset dementia.
“It will challenging both physically and mentally, but that’s what Dad had to face as well,” Nick said.
“A dad is always someone you look up to as having incredible strength, both physically and mentally, and to see that stripped away in front of my eyes was especially hard to deal with.”
Sam Locandro was an active man until struck down with pneumonia aged 54. It was a shadow of a man who returned home after three weeks in hospital. He walked awkwardly, had signs of short-term memory loss and struggled to speak fluently.
Sam’s six-year battle with an aggressive form of the disease was confronting and isolating for the whole family. A portion of money Nick raises will support Eyre House, a respite home for people with younger onset dementia that helped provide great memories for the family.
“Dad was in the prime of his life. That’s a time when you should travel and really live after you’ve worked so hard,” Nick said.
Nick, who has three sisters, had a particularly close bond with his father and was glad his dad had seen him ride.
Coming from a football background, Nick has turned his game to cycling under decorated father-son cycling duo Dennis and Pat Shaw, who guided his transition and readied Nick for his first crack at nationals.
Nick can hardly wait for the experience.
The 185.6km elite men’s road race is scheduled to start at 12.15pm on Sunday.
Look for A Ride to Remember on mycause.com.au.
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