I’m no cyclist. I love the sport and at Cycling Southland we are looking to do every thing we can to grow the sport and provide Southlanders with opportunities to perform and enjoy riding a bike, at whatever level they wish. Since getting involved in the sport a little over two years ago, I’ve realised just how addictive it can be, but we are simply at the stage of life where work and family commitments mean I have had few opportunities to enjoy time pushing the pedals around myself.
That changed on Friday as I rolled out of bed at some ungodly hour to join a great bunch on a charity ride from Queenstown to Invercargill, raising funds for the Westpac Rescue Chopper.
If I’d really taken the time to think it through, there is no sane rationale for someone like me to take on a ride like that. My previous longest jaunt was around 35km. It’s quite a jump to 180-plus around the Devil’s Staircase, up the Jollies, over Josephville Hill in on to the city.
It became pretty obvious very early that I was to spend a good amount of quality one-on-one thinking time with myself out the back of the bunch. James McRobie’s regular Classic Hits radio reports helped, because he had to stop to dial in to the studio, but I would then watch as he and Nathan Burdon would disappear off in to the distance every time we would approach anything resembling a mound in the road.
I was quite ready to jump in the car at Kingston, but the bunch had very kindly waited at Kingston, probably to check I was alive. Even though I was five kilometers per hour slower than the rest of the field, (actually, probably closer to 10,) I kept turning the pedals and somehow made it over the Jollies and in to Lumsden for the lunch stop.
I did everyone a favour by hopping in the sag wagon before jumping out at Limehills School to complete the last 50 kilometres in to town. Rolling in to Westpac on Kelvin Street is something I won’t forget. There was a great turn-out of well-wishers and supporters, news of around $10,000 raised and a cold beer which I murdered on the spot.
The money raised was the reason we all rode, but I had one other. If someone like me can tick off 150km in a day, believe me when I say anyone can! That says more about the sport of cycling than anything I’ve written in this column over the last two years. Thanks to all who rode, especially Andrew Moreton and Phil Taylor at Westpac, (I will forgive you for talking me in to the ride in time Phil).
I hope you can join us Thursday from 5.30pm at the Ascot Park Hotel as we send off our Olympic and Junior Worlds cyclists. Limited tickets are selling very well and must be pre-purchased so get yours from Cycling Southland’s office today.
Nick Jeffrey is Cycling Southland's Chief Executive.