In late 2013 I was invited to be part of the Beat Cancer Tour which was an official part of the Santos Tour Down Under where a select group of riders were chosen to ride each stage of the Santos Tour Down Under ahead of the professional riders each day. I was to embark on this with good friend and fellow cancer survivor Chris White.
This event checked a lot of boxes for me but first and foremost the opportunity to raise money for cancer research and support. In 2011 I was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer - Anaplastic Astrocytoma. With treatment I had a 50% chance of living 1 year and less than a 2% chance of living 2 years. Only one surgeon agreed to operate.
I started treatment immediately with a course of radiation followed by aggressive chemotherapy to reduce the tumor to an operable size. My treatment lasted of 8 months. I am currently cancer free.
This was the hardest thing I've ever endured. Cancer not only turns your life upside down but affects people around you who you love. No one should have to go through this. This is why I chose to take on the 2014 Beat Cancer Tour however this didn't seem enough to me compared to the pain and suffering someone going through cancer must endure. Therefore, I challenged myself by riding for 24 hours around Mt Coot-Tha to raise much needed funds for the Cancer Council.
The challenge was basic, 24hrs riding back-to-back laps of Mt Coot-Tha on a bicycle. The 9.4km lap followed Sir Samuel Griffith Drive in an anticlockwise direction. Each lap contains 359m of elevation gain and a 2.2km ascent to the summit at an average gradient of 8.9%
My goal was 50 laps equaling a distance of 470km with an elevation gain of 17,950m. That's over twice the height of Mt Everest.
I planned the ride down to nutrition requirements per lap as well as my hydration schedule. Setting myself a planned lap time average of 26 minutes a lap seemed ambitious and many agreed however I came out of the blocks hard. The first lap was under 20 minutes before settling into a rhythm of 23 to 24 minutes a lap which took me to lap 25 which at that pint I was 2 hours ahead of schedule.
Then the darkness fell. It became harder to pace up the climb as it became difficult to read the numbers from the power meter and additionally there was the descent which was made ever difficult through the night.
The night also had its huge positive and a large number of people came out in support including cyclist dressed like chickens and supermen. This support lifted my spirit as well as the University of Queensland Cycling Club’s version of Dutch corner. Halfway up the climb they set up a barbecue, some beers and great chanting every time I passed.
As the ride went into the wee hours of the morning I grew wearier and wearier just begging for the sun to rise. The rising of the sun brought about a certain euphoria and flanked by myRapida Cycling Team brought me home for 50 laps in 22 hours and 45 minutes.
As I sat in a chair feeling broken with every inch of my body sore and exhausted I knew we had to do one more lap. So with 30 minutes to go before the deadline we headed out for one more lap which felt like a victory lap. IT was great to know what had been accomplished and come home to a gathering of everyone who had assisted in making it possible at the base of the climb embarrassing me with applause.
Collapsing off the bike everyone congratulated me however I didn’t really get it…I had just been pedaling my bike and as far as I was concerned – nothing too special. The real achievement has been smashing my fundraising goal for the Cancer Council.
The final statistics for the ride were;
Distance = 479.4km
Total Ascent = 18, 309m
Avg Power = 198w
Check out the Video of the event here: http://vimeo.com/86491054