On the scale of winds, this was off the Richter - we could have happily lived with “gale force”, but our newfound friend for the day could only be described as one thing - “stonking”. But pedal stroke after pedal stroke, hour after hour, we persevered, “chewing the stem” (as they say in cycling parlance) and rolling turns at the front to share the workload. We even went a little “pro” at one stage, when coach Cam put us into an echelon formation as the wind turned across the peloton.
At the 90km mark, we arrived at the bottom of the climb to Porter’s Pass. The view of the road as it weaved its way to the top of the climb was daunting, to say the least - but we had no choice but to plough on, straight into the blustery headwind, and up the brutally steep, relentless climb. Apparently we were in Lord of the Rings territory, but Frodo was nowhere to be seen. He’s not silly I suppose - probably woke up, had his weetbix, took one look out his window, saw a sheep fly past the window and thought “no chance I’m searching for a Ring in that” and bunkered down for some Frodo-time, watching few episodes of MAFS (the hobbit edition).
Not us though. But as they say, difficult times bring out the best in people, and we worked together, shielding the weaker riders from the wind as they battled up the climb, and giving a “hand of god” on the back of those who were almost at breaking point. And over the top we went, only to be greeted by…. (wait for it) …the same headwind that we’d been riding into for the past several hours. To put the strength of the wind into context, we were pedalling down the steep descent at less than 30km/hr, whereas the confident descenders would normally be clocking around 70km/hr!
After a welcome lunch stop, we were back on the road again for another 5km climb up Arthur’s Pass before, finally, the reward for all of our hard work - the breathtaking 9km descent off the top of Arthur’s Pass taking us through sweeping bends, over a 440m long, 40 metre high viaduct, through a tunnel and under a waterfall. The contrast between the tribulations of many hours of grinding away, and the sheer elation of the descent and arriving at our destination, was amazing. Perhaps this gives us a very small taste of the difficulties that kids in need and their families go through every day, and the hope and happiness that is offered by our wonderful charity partners, AEIOU and Traction.