Sunday, 5 May 2013

24

Twenty hours spent doing one thing, irrespective of how enjoyable it would usually be, will in most cases become somewhat tedious toward the end. Even twenty hours of sunbathing on the coast of Tahiti would have a certain degree of monotony once the halfway mark was reached. So when I suggested twenty hours of solid bike riding as a fundraising idea for our U.S. campaign, I struggle to understand why we were so enthusiastic about it.

We had no doubt that it would prove to be a challenge, but we more than underestimated what it would take to spend such a duration turning the pedals around and around, stopping only to refill our pockets with bananas and muesli bars, bathroom stops (though we did not always have the luxury of a bathroom), and at traffic lights.

So at 7pm on Friday night, Maddi and I set off to begin our first of many hours to come, with a naive eagerness that would not last us more than one quarter of the way. Riding throughout the night had its ups and downs. The advantages being that it gives the illusion of riding at least 5km/h faster than you truly are (fuels the morale), the wind was low, and traffic was scarce. Though beginning so late in the night meant that we had already been awake for 10 or so hours and felt the fatigue set in much earlier than we'd anticipated.

Most of the first ten hours is hazy to me now, either because I was so exhausted that I wasn't taking in much of what was happening, or the fact that we were unable to see much more than the fifty metres of road ahead of us, so there truly was nothing but tar, stones and the occasional pothole to wake us from our pedaling coma, that was significant enough to remember. I tend to lean more towards the latter.

At exactly ten hours, Maddi - having regained an ounce of sanity - decided to pull the pin. I didn't argue. She was not in a good way (if you head out Sumner, you will see a small crater in the road where she went BANG).


But I was not particularly enthralled at the idea of riding the remaining half alone, with nothing but my own thoughts for company. Nevertheless, I had a quick change of kit, restocked the pockets and headed back out onto the Christchurch roads.

I have developed a theory that lactic acid is very much like cement, and my legs are the cement mixers. As long as they keep turning around, it just swishes about and doesn't bother me too much. But the second they stop, it sets, and the next thing I know I'm trying to push the pedals around with two lumps of solid concrete where my legs used to be. So even stopping for five minutes at the halfway mark left me feeling very heavy.

The following few hours seemed to fall away pretty fast, but the second the wind picked up my spirit plummeted, along with my average speed, and I had my suspicions that my Garmin was taking two seconds to record every one that I rode. Thankfully I had someone join me at this stage, and refuel my motivation by way of a 'harden-the-f#@k-up-you-weak-b@%#' speech. So thank you to James McCoy for that. (And the shot of whiskey).

At fifteen hours I was alone once again, but the messages of support were flooding in. I was humbled by the amount of support I received, and I found so much more drive seeing how many people had belief in me.

Sixteen hours in, with a major deficiency in caffeine, and when my morale was already dragging along the road behind me, I more or less fell asleep while riding down a quiet street and smashed into the back of a car. (haha). I lay there for half a minute and just sighed at my situation, before pulling myself up of the road, bending my hood back into place, and carrying on my not-so-merry way.

It would have been easy to have raised the white flag at that stage. But the thought never crossed my mind once. I have always been one to work hard for what I want, and will do whatever it takes to meet the expectations I set for myself. I somehow shut out the pain and exhaustion and just focused on where I was riding to next, breaking it up into small pieces so as not to overwhelm myself.

I had two others, Soph and Kate, join me for a while to break the boredom, and soon enough, I had hit the 18 hour mark. It was at this stage that, for reasons I still do not comprehend, I offered to stretch it out to a full twenty hour hours for an extra two hundred dollars. I felt a peculiar mixture of satisfaction and sickening regret when I was taken up on my offer. The two hour countdown became six, and if I hadn't have been in enough pain as I already was, I would have slapped myself in the face.

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My final four hours were spent alone, in the dark, with a bag of natural confectionery company party mix. The no-doz had well and truly worn off, and apart from a short nap before we left, I hadn't slept for around 35 hours, yet I felt wide awake, and had enough in the legs to climb Mt Pleasant (and faster than I ever have before, might I add.) Apart from the muscles above my knees, I felt almost fresh, which I'm assuming was some sort of shock my body had gone into, because the second I got home I could barely walk.

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From the beginning til the end of the ride was nearly twenty six hours, and exactly twenty four of those were spent pedaling just under six hundred kilometres. Bed had never been so comfortable. Even if it is a swab on the floor under a desk.

I'd like to say a huge Thank You to all of you who have supported me, whether it be financially or with messages of encouragement throughout my ride. It has been appreciated so much. If anyone else would like to support me with my U.S season, you can do so by hitting this link.

I am holding up much better than I had anticipated, considering what I have put my body though. But I still have severe windburn on my lips, some nasty chafing and no feeling in my little finger and four of my toes. I'm hoping they come back to me sometime soon. Next up is Round Three of the Benchmark Series, and after fiifty-two hours of riding in nine days, I know one of two things is going to happen to me in that race.

A special thank you to Hamish Ferguson, who followed Maddi and I throughout the night with a car-full of food. Also to Fig, Jordan, Michael, Tessa, Alysha, Racquel, my Bundaberg family, Andrew from The Hub, Lauren and Chad (for the phone calls haha), Cazza and Maddi for letting me live with them for the past month or so, and also to my incredible family who have always been, and always will be, my biggest supporters and motivation.


Peace out,
Cassie

PS. I'm contemplating another one back home in the Wang.