When Chad Dobbs returned from deployment in Afghanistan, he knew something was not right. While he did not fully appreciate the impact the months of exposure to conflict had had on him, before long he found himself struggling with depression, anxiety and a host of issues that threatened to derail his return to civilian life.
Reaching out for support he came across Soldier On, an organisation designed to help war veterans return to everyday life after suffering physical or psychological injuries from overseas deployments.
"Once I left the army I was a bit lost, I didn't have anything to do, so I started mountain biking as a way to help keep me fit," he said.
As Mr Dobbs fell in love with Canberra's world-class mountain bike trails, he soon realised he could combine his new passion with his experiences at war to do some good.
Next weekend Mr Dobbs and hundreds of other riders will take part in the Battle of the Beasts, a gruelling off-road pursuit race in Namadgi National Park to raise funds for Soldier On.
As last year's biggest fund-raiser, he is hoping to top his record by bringing in $6000 from supporters both private and corporate.
"Soldier On helps you develop better; they're not just giving you money,'' he said. ''It's more about confidence building - for example, we've got guys who are amputees who want to get into adventure racing but don't know how to do it. Soldier On says, 'No worries, come with us to the South Pole.'"
Based at Caloola Farm near Tharwa, the Battle of the Beasts will bring a weekend festival of cycling to the Naas Valley area, with downhill, endurance and short format races.
Mr Dobbs hopes that if he is successful in beating last year's record, he can expand his efforts to other events next year.
■ Those wanting to support riders in the Battle of the Beasts on October 19-20 can search for and sponsor individuals at beast-worx.gofundraise.com.au.