||it is early monday am and I am in Invercargill scarcely able to believe that it is all over. The weekend was one of the most challenging in my life .We had the trip to Arrowtown on saturday that was of Tour de France proportions - 200 km including a climb over the Lindis pass (900m) and then the Crown Range at over 1100m .It was a lovely surprise to have Tracey and her childrren providing support around Wanaka. The climb over thhe Crown Range was the beast that needed to be tamed - a 14 km climb with the last 1 km being very steep. At 430 on sat pm I felt that I was standing on top of the world. The relief was enormous and the sense of pride in us all as a group to have made it up was immense. This has truly been a team effort and wiithout the helpmof the songer riders I woulld never even have made it to Auckland.
Such was my exhaustion that night that tapping a blog was beyond me ! There was then the small matter of getting to Bluff yesterday. 220 kms done when whatever energy reserves I had , had been left on the Crown Range the day before. We ground it out , including being buffeted by a very strong wind for the last 20 kms , to arrive soon after 5 pm having started at 7 am. It was a long day with an emotional end and now , 12 hours later, it still doesn't feel real.
It has been a rolercoaster of a fortnight with physical and emotional highs and lows. Above all else it has been a privilege to spend 2 weeks of my life with the riders and the support team. They are a great group who have come together to support a great cause and made this a fortnight that I will never forget. The support provided by my family and friends has also been humbling and I can't wait to see them.
Too bad that I have to go back to work !
||forgive typing but tapping oon moving bus ! At present heading inland to Twizel after completing a 160 km leg to Timaru from CHCH. The words long , hot , and boring come to mind - no hills and precious few corners . It was draining and a shower beckons when we arrive - fortunately the bus is large enough to allow us to spread out as I am sure that we don't smell so good .
Fundraising is going well with there being a push to get $600,000 . on hills now and beginning to get car sick !
||what a doddle today ! Only 130 kms and no big hills (how my zones of reference have changed )! I am feeling ok. We are gearing ourselves up for 2 hard days in the weekend - a long trip from Twizel to Arrowtown involving a climb over the Crown range and the final day is over 200 kms to bluff. Spirits are pretty high and events like an impromptu visit to Waikuku school help to break up the day. We have had the luxury of an early arrival in Christchurch only to find that there is not much to do !We have been so well looked after that it seems a burden to have to do our washing ! It appears that there is some momentum to the ride with publicity at most stops and certainly there continues to be a climb in the amount raised by the ride . From a personal perspective I have had the privilege of travelling with a great bunch of people, riders and support crew included . It has been great to have my family support as well as that of friends and I will be very much thinking of them if and when I get to bluff !
||Hamner represented a welcome sight this afternoon , even though it was cold and raining . We had a big day today -180 km including a climb up Lewis Pass ( not Mont Ventoux but a challenge none the less !) and then a further 60km of rolling hills -we climbed 1700 metres in total today and were informed that overall we have thus far climbed over 14000 metres - today at times it felt all of that annd more. The other milestone is that we have done 2/3 of the journey and are in the home stretch. Life is governed by routibes whille doing this ,some of which will be hard to break. I will not miss the time spent applying antichafing cream / sunblock / insect repellent during the morniing. I will clearly have some free time up my sleeve ! Iguess that I should also be able to stay awake after 9 pm ! To CHCH tomorrow have a free evening and will hopefully be there in good time
||day one in south island is over.We are in Murchison after a slightly frenetic final 60 kms from lake Rotoiti which has left me a little tired in the legs. This would not be so much of a concern if it wasn't for the fact that tomorrow is a big day - up and over Lewis Pass and then on to Hamner when the hot pools will beckon. I have had the pleasure of Dad and Cathy providing moral support today. I can report that the massage in Nelson helped my sore legs. The other part of my anayomy that is sore is much less easily treated inthe same fashion ! You can tell that there is a fascination with the bikes here.Steve, our resident mechanic , is busy each evening making adjustments to gears and the like. The phrase 'i am off to clean my cluster ' after a beer barely raises an eyebrow - but is not completely ignored! The guilt is settling in as everyone else is working on their bike while I have just chucked mine round the corner - I had better go to attend to it !
||I am writing this on our rest day in Nelson. Thanks to Dad and Cathy for looking after me here. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated after an emotional re-union with family and friends in wellington yesterday.It was great to see them all there and meant an awful lot to me . Now that the North island has been "knocked off" I am beginning to feel that I will make the whole distance.
The trip from Marton to Wellington was one of contrast - the initial 120 kms was either on back roads with little traffic or SH1 where there was at least a reasonable shoulder to cycle on. During my training I have never cycled along the Centennial Highway and after yesterday , I never want to again ! Suffice to say that it is not a cycle friendly route ! Given the amount of traffic and the close proximity with which it passed us I guess that you could say that it offered us good exposure for the cause - although the cigarette butt flicked out at us on the way to Levin suggests that we have a way to go yet !!
Having driven the Wellington - Levin road quite frequently in the past it gave me cause to contemplate the fact that up to 6 months ago I would never have considered cycling that distance whereas , on reaching Levin yesterday, there was more a sense that we were nearly there ! My whole assessment of distance and time has become skewed by this experience.
I have a massage to look forward to and an appearance at an auction in Nelson (I am presuming that we , the riders , are not being put up as items !)and then we are off again tomorrow . Currently I am looking forward to the challenges ahead and fervently hope that I will still feel the same way when I get to Hamner . Off to replenish my carbohydrate and caffeine stores !
||Third time lucky !Typing this on my cell phone can be very frustrating. I have lost 2 previous attempts 'in transition' as i inadvertently tapped the wrong key. No surprise I am sure to those who know me and understand how challenged I am by my phone ! Today has been great as I have made it to MaRton still able to sit comfortably on anything other than my bike seat. We had a momentous cycle across the Desert road. Initial showers turned to an extraordinary fine day with beautiful views of Ruapehu. There was plenty of time to see the mountain as you climb slowly up for 30 kms. The descent into Waiouru and then Taihape was more frenetic. I am not a natural downhiller. I am a little cautious which largely stems from the fact that I had to reassemble the bike when we got it to Cape Reinga. I have this not entirely irrational fear that it will fall apart at any moment which holds me back a little as w head down some impressive descents. The day was punctuated by a 12 inch Subway sandwich for lunch plus the inevitable powerbars and bananas. I have the luxury of a room to myself tonight and the eager expectation of a night at home tomorrow. It is that more than anything else that has been keeping me going when things (including my bike seat) have been hard . Roll on tomorrow !
||I am finally staying somewhere I have heard of [i guess Auckland has some vague familiarity ] as am Now in Turangi - only 2 days to Wellington . The sun is shining and a dip in the river was very refreshing . A mere 170 km today with temp up to 29 degrees . Various different parts of me ache which draws my attention away from the obvious concern relating to my backside. Part of the ritual involves caking on antichafing cream 3btimes a day - not easy to do with dignity on the roadside! Dinner awaits me so will try and write more later
||yesterday I had a touch of the Auckland Blues but today was better ! I needed a ft and had to ring the support crew (helen ) for psychological support . Nigel and Liz were also great company and helped rejuvenate my flagging resolve . The donations are still coming in and the accommodation in matamata is super b. It was a long day but I coped OK - if anything a little more energy than the last few days - likely due to the inordinate number of power bars that I have been eating ! The company is great and the trip is slightly less daunting - so looking forward to getting to Wellington on sunday
||the end of day 3 and relaxing with friends in AKL - little do they know that I'll be asleep by 9 so may not be the best of company ! A good day today although still very challenging. I find that i can manage the first 4-5 hours but the ride in the afternoon is very draining. Exciting to arrive in Takapuna and see the Auckland team catching up wityh their families. While there was no-one there to specifically greet me we were made very welcome and i have the carrot of seeing family in the weekend in Wellington. That seems a long way off at the moment. Drinking and eating a lot to try and maintain fuel stores - already the powerbars are losing their appeal a little ! Off to matamata tomorrow - I hope that it is flat but don't really expect that after the last 3 days - when you've cycled 130 kms the smallest rise takes on ngargantuan proportions. I am blissfully unaware of where I am or where I sm going ; my odmeter has broken down so I have no idea of the speed that I am travelling or the distances - I think that this may not be a bad thing as there is always something new and unexpected around the corner. The route thus far has been great in terms of interest and has avoided busy roads as much as possible.
The other highlight is that overe $500,000 has been raised , which amounts to $1,000,000 with the support of our benefactior - a great result and hopefully something that can be built on over the next 2 weeks ! Wish me well
||end of day 2 and we are in Matakohe. 155 km with the last 100 km into a strong easterly that should have been meat and drink for a Wellingtonian but wasn't ! It has just occurred to me how hard this is going to be. My interests now relate to finding energy food that doesn't affect my digestion and studying very closely the benefits of antichafing cream ! My skIn is intact [at least the parts that I can see!] and I think that an early evening beer will assist with post ride recovery - exact quantities to be determined ! To AKL tomorrow , a mere 135 kms making it an easy day in the scheme of things
||I have just cycled 160 kms today - further then I have ever gone in one day in my life . the good news is that I can still walk [ and sit down !] . The bad news is that I will need to do the same tomorrow . We are in Rawene now after a ride from cape reinga.The cape is a very spiritual place and the send off from lOcal Maori was very special. words of advice about adequate nutrition led to me overdoing the bananas today. An intake of 8 spells trouble for room mates !
||The last weekend of training is over ! The Wellington summer has conspired to mean that I have not been out as much as I should. Some sunday mornings have been spent on the Windtrainer watching the football (at least until the kids emerge). I have been avoiding training in the rain as much as possible but common sense overtook me this weekend as I had to accept that there was a remote possibility that we might catch some inclement weather between Cape Reinga and Bluff ( especially since we are going to Wellington !)The ride with the 'Tar Babies' was achieved without any of the feared tumbles and alerted me to the importance of keeping something dry to wipe your glasses with if I wanted to see where I was going !
The training has been a challenge and while I despair at not really being any faster on the flat than before I clearly recover better after a 100km ride. I can see that these powers of recovery are going to be tested in ways I can only anticipate in a weeks' time .
The organisation has been great and the generosity of family, friends and colleagues has been awesome.
The Tinelli shirts look fantastic with their bright red colour and tasteful design. It has been pointed out to me by the fashion police that it does clash somewhat with my orange bike - clearly the only tenable option is to buy a new one (not the shirt but the bike !)
Now is a good time to start thanking a few people around me (in case the brain becomes disengaged in coming weeks). The guys at Johnsonville Cycles serviced my bike for free and have been full of sage words of advice to a novice such as me. The bike is purring along now and any deficiencies in performance come down to the guy on top.
Thanks to Greg Lynch from Inform physio, who , not for the first time , has provided me with valuable professional advice about getting over a back problem when he should have been at the beach with his family.
My family certainly rate more than a mention as my training has impacted on them in so many ways . Lucy has had to see me wearing lurid gear (the bib short look has led to inevitable Borat comparisons !)that , as a fashion-conscious teenager , has induced both smirking and anxiety (that one of her friends might also see me ). Tom has had to take on the mantle of chief dog walker as I have had to shirk that responsibility somewhat. He has also had to share his Playstation den with a bike on a noisy wind trainer. Helen , while I know that she thinks I am crazy , has been incredibly supportive - she is currently labelling all my gear for me and has taken a keen interest in ensuring that I have the appropriate supplies (especially anti-chafing remedies !) She has also served to remind me that I am not doing this for me - that the purpose is to raise money for the heart foundation - a message that I think that I have taken on board. Certainly I know that none of this effort could or would have been done without her support. I might also need her help afterwards !
||As the year draws to a close and february looms ever closer i have to confess to a certain air of anxiety as to whether the task we have set ourselves may be beyond me - the cycling is one thing but the raising of the money is a major challenge also ! Here's hoping that in reading this blog that you have already been persuaded of the importance to us all of funding research into cardiovascular medicine.
Meanwhile I am trying to maintain the training while working between christmas and New Year - doing the weekly long rides and trying to fashion other training around commuting. I am becoming more attuned to the cycling talk that I never really understood before - particularly such terms as 'bonking' that had completely different connotations in the past !
I have had an appraisal of my bike's set up performed at acycle shop here in town. $70 for the check-up but a further couple of hundred dollars to make the changes strongly suggested by the bike mechanic. I have even had my pelvic size measured by rather ignominiously leaving my imprint(s) on a gel pad ! If I'd stayed any longer I might have walked out of the shop with a completely new bike !
Roll on a wee break in nelson where the roads are quiter and the winds less ferocious !
||Note to self: A hard training ride after a night out celebrating the All Whites' triumph at the Cake Tin is not to be recommended. the presence of a howling northerly not only blew away the cobwebs but nearly blew away the rider altogether ! It is now Wednesday and I am only just recovering - this might have to be one of those keenly awaited 'rest' weeks in the training programme. My problem is that the rest weeks are outnumbering the training ones currently.
||An image of Alberto Contador flashed through my mind as I 'danced' on the pedals going up the Blue Mountains on the first lap of the "Tour De Whitemans" this morning in Upper Hutt. By the third lap however onlookers would have needed a very strong imagination and a sense of the surreal to have made that link ! Still I survived and had a valuable introduction to the etiquette of group riding / racing. I remain in awe of the seasoned cyclists who are able to drink ; reach back and grab food from their back pockets ; unwrap that food and eat it without spillage - all while travelling along at 35-40 km/hr. My hands are firmly clasped to the handlebars and even taking a drink from my drink bottle feels like an act of extreme bravery. Little do the support crew of "The Great Ride for Heart" know that appropriate nutrition will need to be fed to me while on the move or provided in liquid form through a Camel-Bak or a nasogastric tube . (Personal preference is for the former)
A note to the wise is that if you get a new battery for your watch that doubles as a heart race monitor it would be worthwhile checking the settings. Every time my HR went over 150 (and this happened reasonably often!) the watch started making a piercing beeping noise that gave the impression that I was either about to explode or collapse. It did mean that every-one gave me a very wide berth going up the hills !
After a humble start I am looking at stepping up the fundraising this week by e-mailling to an extended group of contacts asking for support. I am casting the net wide including family / friends /colleagues and other groups with whom I associate. I hope to appeal to the good nature of the Vindaloos Masters football team - the euphoria of the midtable result for the season is only now diminishing ! - the Wellington Marathon Clinic who , more than any-one else,have provided me with the opportunity to even consider being fit enough to undertake this ride - and the Daniell Street Warriors who have maintained remarkable consistency over the last 4 years in the Indoor football league (euphemism for the fact that we don't seem to get any better!)
Please consider a donation for what is a very good cause - even if you don't work in the field the chances are that you will know some-one who has been affected by heart disease . You can be assured that the money raised will go directly towards funding the research that is required to help us prevent heart disease in the future and perhaps mean that some of what I do on a daily basis will become redundant.
||Installment Number One: I am hoping that my procrastination in setting up my web page is no marker of my initiative and drive to train for the ride ! It has taken 3 weeks of family cajoling to get this far and was only achieved by depriving me of the newspaper (and access to the tele) on a sunday afternoon.
I am quite new to this cycling business , having just bought a road bike earlier this year. The attraction has certainly not been the gear - it is an ubndeniable fact that men in their mid 40's don't look their best in lycra ! The material seems to emphasise bulges that either reflect the ravages of time or ones that should ideally remain discrete . I have discovered no better way to repulse my teenage children than to collapse down next to them on the sofa after a long ride !
I had to turn to cycling as recurrent injuries made it difficult for me to continue running . I have since discovered that my story is far from unique.
So why take part in this 2 week cycling marathon ? I have to admit that i like the challenge that it provides me with - an opportunity to do something that i would never otherwise contemplate. The ride however is for a cause that I do feel very strongly about. As a cardiologist here in wellington I act very much as the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff seeing people who have established coronary disease and who have suffered as a result. To see people my age having heart attacks and not having the opportunity to do what we all are doing next february is disconcerting and I have no doubt of the benefits to the NZ community that could be provided by the establishment of the Heart foundation Chair in Preventative Cardiology.
I am hopeful of your support and will try to regularly update you on my progress through the training regime (in its formative stage !)over the next few weeks