Merilyn Penn

Fundraising Rank: 51 / 1,710


My Activity Tracking



My Goal


Distance Rank: 69 / 1,710

I'm taking the Challenge to fight MS!

I am taking part in the MS Gong Ride Virtual, the Ride to Fight MS.  This year, being virtual, participants can ride from many destinations to Wollongong.  I have chosen a virtual ride from Melbourne to Wollongong: 815km throughout the month of October.  Every ride I do will count towards my km goal.  

I am also aiming to raise $1 per km ridden.  $815 to help people with MS.  I started my challenge on 1 October. You can see my progress here on my page and support me along the way!

STOP PRESS: Original target exceeded on 11th Oct! Target has been increased to $2 per km ridden.  A VERY BIG THANK YOU TO ALL MY SPONSORS SO FAR!

UPDATE 16th October 2020:  I've doubled my original fundraising target of $815 (or $1 per km of the distance target) and I now have $2 per km of the distance target.  That means I have to honour my promise to turn round and ride back to (virtual) Melbourne in November!

UPDATE 19th October 2020: $2,000 in fundraising reached.  VERY BIG thank you to my colleagues at Novartis for getting me past this major milestone today.

Update 24th October 2020: Distance goal achieved! I've made it from (virtual) Melbourne to Wollongong.

Why am I fundraising?

Multiple sclerosis affects more young people than any other chronic neurological condition. It can strike anyone at any time and the symptoms vary widely.

For instance, can you imagine waking up one day unable to do the everyday things you would usually take for granted? Like not being able to see properly (or at all), you physically can’t get out of bed, can’t walk to the phone to call someone – anyone – or  live a life without pain?

All of a sudden, your world has changed.

Thanks to your generous support, the funds we raise will allow people living with multiple sclerosis to access vital MS support services. Support to keep Aussies living with multiple sclerosis connected to others and connected to the information and services they need to live their best life.

Thank you again for your support!

My Achievements

Updated Profile

Self Donated

Sent An Email

Shared Page

Received Five Donations

Reached 50% of Fundraising Target

Reached 100% of Fundraising Target

Logged First KM

Reached Distance Target

My Updates

MS Gong Day 31 - Last day

Saturday 31st Oct
Heavy rain was forecast overnight so I decided the M7 bike path would be good.  No risk of traffic not being able to slow down, no spray from the cars and not too much debris in the gutters.  However, I got more than I bargained for!!

Last day of the challenge today and I have managed to ride 1,022 kms during October.  More importantly, I have raised $2,564 which will all go towards supporting people living with MS.  Huge thank you to all my sponsors.

MS Gong Day 30 - Parts A & B

Friday 30th Oct
Started the day with a lovely ride up Somerville and out to Kalkari again.  Then went into work for the Novartis MS Awareness event.  Fairly low key this year (for obvious reasons) but nevertheless very sociable and good fun.  Four stationary bikes set up just outside the office for people to do turns on, plus 2 guests from MS Australia including official "MS Ambassador" Stephen whose story you can find elsewhere on this website.  Between the morning ride and the office event, another 65kms added to my total.  I'm aiming to get to 1,000 kms by the end of the month, i.e. tomorrow.

MS Gong Day 29 - Somerville again

Thursday 29th Oct
Chilly and damp again this morning but I made it out on a short ride before the rain came down.  No new views to send you but here is a photo for you to enjoy of the jasmine bush in our garden which is loving the rain!

MS Gong Days 27 & 28

Wednesday 28th Oct
Wet weather and a very busy week at work have meant no riding since Monday.  No change in the fundraising status either.  Need to push both along before the last day on Saturday. 

MS Gong Day 26 - Indoor trainer again

Monday 26th Oct
Winter has returned.  No chance of an outdoor ride today.  Time for more podcasts on the trainer.

MS Gong Day 24 - Arrival in (virtual) Wollongong!

Saturday 24th Oct
Today I've hit the target!  Melbourne to Wollongong done - all 815 kms of it.  Was thinking of buying a celebratory pie at the Pie In The Sky but the rain was already closing in by the time I got there so I more or less turned round and came straight back.  Had a celebratory mince pie and a cup of coffee in the dry on the veranda at home instead!

And for my next trick...
To honour my pledge to ride back again if my generous sponsors doubled my fundraising total, I now have to turn round and ride back to Melbourne.  20 kms done; 795 to go!!

MS Gong Day 23 - Somerville

Friday 23rd Oct
Clocked up another 24 kms after work today because the forecast is for a wet and windy weekend which is not bike riding weather.  One trip to The Pie In The Sky tomorrow morning and I'll have made it to (virtual) Wollongong.

I am also within $141 of reaching Bronze Hero status and let's face it, who doesn't want to be a bronze hero?! 

MS Gong Day 22 - Westleigh laps

Thursday 22nd Oct
Squeezed in a few local laps of Westleigh between finishing work for the day and starting work for the evening (the perils of working from home).

Big milestone reached in the (virtual) journey today.  I have been heading North on the Hume Highway since leaving (virtual) Melbourne on 1st October and today I finally turned right onto the Illawarra Highway and am heading toward the coast.  62kms to go!  

MS Gong Day 21 - More indoor trainer

Wednesday 21st Oct
Had a late night webinar with Head Office this evening so decided to set up the laptop next to the indoor trainer.  Multi-tasking!  Listening only, no camera from my end obviously.  (Sighs of relief all round!)  I was very wrong about there being nothing good to be said about the indoor trainer.  I have discovered three things in as many days.
1. Cycling while listening to podcasts
2. Cycling while watching television
3. Cycling while listening to work calls.   

MS Gong Day 20 - $2,000 WooHoo...(and indoor trainer again)

Tuesday 20th Oct
First things first.  I have passed the $2,000 milestone.  Feeling very humbled by everyone's support.  THANK YOU all very much, especially my colleagues at Novartis for getting me to this milestone yesterday.

Didn't have a chance to get on the bike until well after it was dark today so opted for the indoor trainer again.  Set it up in front of the big telly and watched another episode of a series I started watching when we were in lockdown back in April! (Felt very indulgent.  It's NEVER me who's choosing what's on the telly.)

MS Gong Day 19 - Indoor trainer

Monday 19th Oct
Woke up to rain again.  Not much, but just enough to make the roads really slippery.  Opted for the indoor trainer instead.  Luckily the household's main cyclist was already awake and came to help me set it up thus saving me at least half an hour of banging and swearing.  Nothing good to be said about riding on the indoor trainer really except that it added 16 kms to my MS Gong total and gave me 45mins to catch up on a podcast. 

MS Gong Day 18 - Rest Day

Sunday 18th Oct
Too much work to do today sadly (it's a Sunday - shouldn't be at the office)

MS Gong Day 17 - Brooklyn with extras!

Saturday 17th Oct
Rode to Brooklyn again today with side trips up Somerville Rd and out to Kalkari for some extra kms.  Who remembers that 1980s song "The only way is up"?  That always goes through my head when I'm having a rest stop in Brooklyn!

I've done 654kms now and if I was really riding from Melbourne to Wollongong, I would be going through the junction of the Hume Highway and Federal Highway now, just North of Canberra.  I can't see the sea yet, but I feel as though I'm well on the way.

*** NEWS FLASH *** $1,632 raised!

Friday 16th Oct
The  money has come pouring in this week and someone has just tipped me over the threshold to make me activate my promise.  Looks as though I will be spending November riding back to (virtual) Melbourne!

MS Gong Day 4 - Somerville

Friday 16th Oct
Out and back before work again.  Chilly and pretty windy.  Lots of other cyclists out this morning though.  Sharing a photo of one of the "friends" I pass on this route!

MS Gong Day 15 - Local laps

Thursday 15th Oct
Just did enough this morning to stay ahead of schedule and keep the kms ticking over.  Looking forward to getting out for a proper ride again at the weekend.

MS Gong Day 14 - Somerville

Wednesday 14th Oct
Back at work and school this week, so having to squeeze in a ride early.  Up and back along Somerville Rd - my local favourite.  Got to see the early morning sun creeping into the valley.

MS Gong Day 13 - Rest Day

Tuesday 13th Oct
Even the Tour de France riders are allowed a day off now and again and they're professionals! 

MS Gong Day 12: $1,000 PASSED! THANK YOU!

Monday 12th Oct
Went back to work today.  Only managed an hour's ride just before it got dark.  Lovely to see the sun setting over Berowra Valley though.

Also, exciting news:  I've passed $1,000 dollars in the fundraising.  THANK YOU TO ALL MY SPONSORS.  Perhaps I should raise the target to $2 per km ridden.

MS Gong Day 11 - M7 bike path end-to-end

Sunday 11th Oct
Important milestone reached today: I have passed the halfway mark!  Went for the full 82km ride along the M7 bike path and back today, which is exactly the same distance as the "real" Sydney to Wollongong ride.  The navigation is very easy: follow the bike path from one end to the other, stop for a snack, turn round and follow it back again!  Not as boring (or as flat) as it sounds and quite varied riding.  My favourite bit is the dedicated bridge to take cyclists up, over and straight through the middle of the complicated M7/M4 interchange.  (The photo doesn't do it justice - it is an impressive piece of cycling infrastructure.)  Western Sydney wins again for cyclists. 

MS Gong Day 10 - Westleigh

Saturday 10th Oct
Busy day today.  Not much time for cycling.  Just managed a couple of local laps to get a few kms on the board for the day.

MS Gong Day 9 - Parramatta Valley Cycleway

Friday 9th Oct
Explored a totally different area today along the Parramatta Valley Cycleway.  Lovely ride along the river from Meadowbank to Parramatta, round Parramatta Park then back along the other side of the river through Newington and Rhodes, back to Meadowbank.  Nearly all on separate cycle paths, some picturesque sections and not a hill in sight!

MS Gong Day 8 - Bobbin Head via Somerville

Thursday 8th Oct
Didn't leave home planning to ride down Bobbin Head but I was still ahead of the gathering thunder clouds when I got to the top of the hill...and it was too good to resist!  Even the grind up the other side wasn't as bad as I remembered.  Working up some "credit" ahead of the champagne and birthday cake I'm hoping for this evening :)

MS Gong Day 7 - Pie in the Sky

Wednesday 7th Oct
Making the most of a few days off work to add lots of kms to my total.  Pie In The Sky today, via Hornsby Heights for a few extra kms with no extra hills!  I could have been tempted to buy a pie when I arrived at The Pie (blueberry is the best I am reliably informed) except that a coachload of people got there just before me.  Gained me the kms and spared me the calories.  Winner whichever way I look at it!

MS Gong Day 6 - Chilly and damp!

Tuesday 6th Oct
Drizzling and cold when I left home this morning.  Decided against the route I had planned and played it safe instead.  36kms along the ridge line.  Will save the big hill for when I can fly down as fast as possible! 

MS Gong Day 5 - Berowra Waters and Galston Gorge

Monday 5th Oct
Today I only intended to go to Berowra Waters and back, but it was such a gorgeous day that I crossed the river on the ferry instead and came home the long way via Galston Gorge.  It's a Public Holiday Monday which means the uphill kms count double though, right?! 

MS Gong Day 4 - Brooklyn

Sunday 4th Oct
Making the most of the gorgeous Spring weather to get some kms on the board :)

Getting ready...

Monday 28th Sep
Checking out the technology, making sure I have a Strava account to log the kms and charging my bike computer.  All going surprisingly smoothly so far. 

Thank you to my Sponsors


Mark Schulz



Keep up the amazing work for patients with MS Merilyn. Enjoy your ‘trip’ from Melbourne ... the rail trail around Beechworth and Bright is stunning!


Jane Adams

Once again you are the MS Gong Ride champion for the team.



What a great cause, good luck!! PS Google maps said 871km :)


Bruce Kemmis?


Ana Kraucher


Merilyn Penn


Joan Henderson


Lucas Tocchini


Mel Skillicorn

Fantastic effort Merilyn.


Tania Roach

Good to catch up again last weekend. Keep those wheels turning! Great initiative and think you are amazing.


Tim Jones

GO Merilyn!!! Great to see the photos of my old Sydney bike rides AHHH the memories. Tim


Paula Mackie

Wow, impressive riding Merilyn.


Mish Farris


Alex Neumann

Hi Merilyn, good on you for embarking on this virtual ride and helping us raise funds for this important cause. Keep riding!!


Amy Gye

Nice work Merilyn, keep it going!


Steve Carroll

Such a great cause Merilyn. Well done on another successful ride and fund raising effort!


Cecelia Bagley

Wow Merilyn - great effort. You should be proud of how close you are to achieving your goal and making a difference to people living with MS. Cheers Cec



Loving all the pictures from your different rides! Keeeep pedalling! 😘


Birendra Arora

Hi Merilyn, Great effort for a worthy cause!! Good luck. Birendra


Emma Williams

Well done! Have enjoyed following your progress on Facebook. This is a cause close to my heart as you know.



You did it!! Well done Merrilyn! Thank you for your support and inspiring me along the way. Mo


Stacey Bolto

Go Merilyn!


Maria Germano



Rebecca Stratford


Annette Waterhouse

Great effort, I am impressed with your fitness, you will be able to cycle Tasmania when you come and visit.


Bronwyn Friend

You are a legend, selfless and hard working. Thanks for riding for the rest of us couldn’t this year. Congratulations 🥳


Jacqui B

Ride you little legs off Merilyn



Go Mez!


Kathy Dillon

Way to go Merilyn!


Anna Kirkpatrick


Shona Reynolds

Great work for a great cause. Thanks Merilyn!


Laura Penn

Woo go mum!


Peter Townson

You’ve done it - congrats 🥳



Merilyn - you are an absolute rock star! Love your blog and stories. And your passion to make a difference. Who knows next here, novice me, may be riding along :-)


Daniel Russo

Go Merilyn Go!



Bravooo Merilyn. I have enjoyed your posts and passion for a good cause.


Janet Walker

Beat, John! x Janet


Nikki Hilton

Good luck Merilyn!!!


Marjorie Penn







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