ROBERT Sheridan is a man on a mission. The Maryville cyclist and teacher, 68, has set himself a goal of riding around 10,000 kilometres every year for the past five years, but has set his sights even higher this year. He is preparing to cycle about 12,000 kilometres around the country, mostly solo and unsupported. He estimates the journey will take him around six months. "It's about the joy of riding - I love it, it gets me outside, by myself and away," Mr Sheridan said. "It's a challenge, a bucket list thing wanting to ride around Australia." He has previously ridden around Tasmania and from Melbourne to Cooktown. "I'm 68 and am not getting any younger - I either do it now or it won't happen." Mr Sheridan is paying all of his own expenses and hoping to raise funds for the Black Dog Institute. He cycles with Zoo 2 Zoo, which raises funds for the charity, and a friend suggested a few years ago he may want to share with the charity his experience with mental health. Mr Sheridan said he was sexually abused by a teacher when he was 12. He didn't tell anyone until he was 62. He said he was standing on a beach contemplating suicide one night when a colleague called him about changes in his behaviour. "I doubt very much whether I would have followed through, but it is an indication of how low my mental health was at the time," he said. "She went through the 'Are you okay' process, 'Hey Sherro you're not looking well at work, what's going on, you're not going to meetings, you're not coming to the staff room' and luckily I was honest with her...that's what turned it around, someone got me at the right time and asked me the right questions." Mr Sheridan went to his doctor and received a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. He tried counselling and medication. He said exercise, meditation and friends help him manage his health. He retired from teaching in 2017 but resumed casual teaching in 2021. "My story is one of survival and a story of strength," he said. "I rode in January from Newcastle up to Lennox Head and it was just beautiful. "The environment and the sunrises, the challenge, the adventure - I'm lucky to be able to experience this, I see myself as really fortunate. For me life is really good." Mr Sheridan now volunteers with the Black Dog Institute as a lived experience presenter. "I talk about the message: know about mental health, seek help when you need it and look after your mates," he said. "I find it quite liberating talking about it, but it does get emotional at times." He said suicide is the leading cause of death among people aged 15-24 and 25-44 and more education was needed. He estimates his upcoming odyssey will involve cycling about 500 kilometres a week. He will ride from Townsville to Broome with three mates. He will cycle from Broome to Perth and then from Perth through Adelaide, Broken Hill, Dubbo, Canberra, Wollongong, Sydney and back to Newcastle on his own. He will carry his own water and camping gear, and will buy food in Perth and post it in parcels to roadhouses along the way. Mr Sheridan's training has involved cycling around 400 kilometres each week. "I've got myself into a pretty good physical state and the biggest challenge will be the mental challenge," he said. "I really want to achieve this, it will give me a lot of satisfaction but it will be a day by day experience."