WHEN 86-year-old biker Doug Sunderland roars into a new town he’s greeted by a small army of people he has never even met who offer everything from cash to a place to crash for the night.

For the long-time solo motor cyclist who has ridden across 19 countries in the past 12 years the fans are a new edition to his adventure thanks to Facebook.

With failing health Mr Sunderland returned to Australia last year but wanted to do one final ride around the continent.

While preparing for his ride the lone biker bumped into social networking savvy motorcyclist Kris Growcott who wanted to make sure his new-found friend would have what he needed for the ride.

“I wanted to help raise money so Doug would be comfortable on his ride,” Mr Growcott said.

“But Doug kept saying `I don’t need your help’.”

Mr Growcott turned to Facebook to help raise support for Mr Sunderland’s ride and within weeks of the big ride more than 800 people had fanned Mr Sunderland’s “Cavalry of One” page.

The pair managed to sell more than 2500 Cavalry of One T-shirts raising about $8000 for the ride but Mr Growcott said it was support along the road that made Mr Sunderland’s journey so special.

Despite his initial scepticism, Mr Sunderland said he fully embraced the social network.

“That bloody Facebook,” he said this week.

“It opened a strange chapter of my life.

“I’ve ridden through 43 countries in total, I’ve crossed the Himalaya and I’ve been riding bikes since I was 14 but I have never had people come out to meet me when I ride into a town _ I couldn’t believe it.”

On each day of the ride Mr Growcott would phone his adventurous friend and make status updates on the Cavalry of One Facebook page.

And as more fans began following the 86-year-old’s progress they began turning out at meet-up points that were posted on the social network.

“At every stop there were eight, 10 sometimes 15 people who had come to see me,” Mr Sunderland said.

One guy drove 200km just to come and meet me.”

Since completing his seven-week ride in late 2010, Mr Sunderland has continued to be inundated with Facebook fans and hundreds of people’s emails urging the biker to get back on the road so they too can support his life-long journey.

“I’m supposed to be riding through Tasmania right now,” Mr Sunderland said.

“But the doc said I had to wait until my chest infection clears before I can get back on the road.”

Close to 5000 people have fanned the 85-year-old’s Facebook page in support of Mr Sunderland’s next journey.
Source: dailytelegraph.com
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