A 10,000km bike ride with one leg

Mr Sams is raising money for war veterans suffering from disabilities or PTSD. He has collected $27,800 so far.
Mr Sams is raising money for war veterans suffering from disabilities or PTSD. He has collected $27,800 so far.

With a flag of his country sticking out of his backpack and a white towel around his neck, Australian Laurie Sams walked 25km from The Changi Museum to Tanjong Pagar Railway Station one day in 2002.

Those who had seen him would hardly be able to tell that Mr Sams, a former soldier who lost a leg in a parachuting accident, had done so using a prosthetic leg.

It was part of an effort to retrace the footsteps of his father, Mr William Sams, an Australian prisoner of war at Changi who was sent to work on the Death Railway spanning Thailand and Myanmar.

The younger Mr Sams, now 67, is back in Singapore on yet another arduous journey. Singapore is his second last stop on a 10,000km solo charity ride on a bicycle from Hanoi to Sydney to raise funds for Australian war veterans.

Mr Sams, who served with Australia's Special Air Service Regiment in 1970 in the Vietnam War, left the military after 21 years to work as a training and development consultant in parachuting.

He started the charity ride in May to raise awareness and money for veterans suffering from disabilities or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental disorder.

Mr Sams is a PTSD sufferer himself, and said he used to crawl in his sleep as if in a jungle. But the trip has been a healing process for him.

"I did a lot of talking with veterans in Vietnam which was like closing a chapter," he said.

On Tuesday, he cycled 11km with Australian defence adviser David Hay and former Special Air Service veteran Matt Brown from Sembawang to the Kranji War Memorial, where they laid a wreath to commemorate the Allied war dead.

Mr Sams' stop here is his last before he flies back to Australia today. Some A$27,000 (S$27,800) has been raised since he set off. Those keen to donate to the cause can visit www.thelongridehome.com.au.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2016, with the headline 'A 10,000km bike ride with one leg'. Print Edition | Subscribe