A mountain bike race? Nope, ride.

A few days before my birthday (way back on December 21) Jodi and Brendan's good friends, Brent & Belinda, presented me with an early birthday present.  It was registration into the final stage of a mountain bike race that Brendan & Brent were doing in February.  The event was a 7 day, 569km mountain bike race across the South Island from Christchurch to Queenstown.  Oh yeah, there was 15 273 m of climbing as well!?  Luckily for me, I was going to team up with Belinda and only do the final stage.  I was told it was, "62 km and all downhill, Jay.  We start up in the mountains at Snow Farm and work our way down to Queenstown.  It'll be fun!  It will be an adventure, you'll get to see the beautiful countryside!"  

Unfortunately for me, all I heard from that conversation was, "it will be all downhill...it will be fun...see the beautiful countryside."

Turns out, one 1 out of 3 were correct. The beautiful countryside. Ha.

Both Belinda and I went into the day, not really wanting to 'race', but to have a challenging ride and push ourselves to the limit to see how well we could do.  We knew we could ride 30-35km/hr on a road bike, so we were expecting to do the course in about 5 hours at the most.  

7 hours and 30 minutes later we crossed the finish line!! Hahahaha...so much for predictions. 

Oh, ya and also:

2 endos over my handles bars

1 cracked helmet

1 broken seat

1 jammed chain

1 cut and bruised hip.

1 cut and bruised forehead.

3 mechanical issues.

1 lost garmin computer 

400 swear words. 

1900m of climbing (so much for it being "all downhill")

At one point, around 40km's, I actually sat in an ice cold mountain stream to cool down.  Trying to convince my hamstrings, calves and quads not to cramp up and that we were all on the same team.

20km into the ride, after my second wipeout (and after having to use medical tape to attach my seat to make sure it stayed on the seat post for the reaming 42km) we decided to take it down a notch or 6 and just cruise the rest of the way.  Having as much fun as possible, stopping to take lots of pictures and videos.  I realized the chances of me having access to a part of the world like this again was slim, so competing and doing well took a back seat to living life, making the most of every moment and enjoying the opportunity I was in.  And in the end, that's what won out.  What we'll remember.  Belinda even commented towards the end of our grueling day that she hoped we finished near the back of the bunch (Ha! We did.) so that our kids could learn that you don't always need to finish first to do well and have the most fun. And that we did...oh yes!

But will I accept a birthday gift from Brent and Belinda again?  

Hmmmm. We'll see. 

Some fun videos of our ride.