It was an eerie winters 10th of July, my friends had fallen asleep on the couch. My eyes were glued open the whole night. Worried shitlessly about a bike ride that would unfold over the next seven days. In my mind, I was worried about everything. My heart had already started working out without having yet sat on the bike, my feet had not yet completed a single pedal stroke.
Everything kicked off at the ripe old time of 5:30am. Wheel pressure check before heading out the door. My friends were already waiting for me in a sort of saluting position so I could squeeze my bike down the steep and narrow staircase. Booties on, helmet unstrapped, we moved.
It had rained the morning before and there wasn’t a soul in sight. The soles of my cycling shoes felt the slightest inch of dampness walking to the starting point, the hands of my brothers patting me good luck on the back. There was nothing more insisting that morning than the good lucks they gave me. It was a friendly reminder that I had a pretty amazing support crew by my side.
It was pitch nervousness that day, clouds visible only from the reflection of the city lights. As we walked down to the war memorial site it was like my body knew what I was about to make it do. The last four months had been spent raising my own expectations, I’d spent months going around convincing myself that it was a good idea but my body wasn’t so sure.
The night before it all kicked off was church night so I asked my friend if he could pray for me. Every word spoken during his prayers were needed desperately and every verse cited during the sermon that night was washed down with a plastic cup of communion. I was so intently awake to everything said as if it were the last time I’d ever be in a holy place. I was freaking out!
So I asked my friend if he could pray for my safe return. A quick few words just to make sure I would return safely. With his hand on my shoulder and a few bouts of stomach lightness, I had my reassurance that everything was going to be okay. It made the rest of the night go a little bit more swimmingly too.
It was finally time to start. It was time to get on the bike and get done what I came here to do. Photos for Facebook, quicks hugs and quicker goodbyes. Clipped to the pedals, helmet stuck to my noggin. A firm grip tightened on the handlebars, a tighter grip on the task at hand. Making them wheels turn for the first time. Strange to think how many miles of this I’d be doing in the following days. An experience which would go on to change my life.
After a few hours, my body became tired and sloppy. My head began to droop over the stem of the front forks on my bike. My neck started stressing, my legs began to cramp up. I hadn’t slept very well the night before either and my body wasn’t liking the grind one bit. I remember thinking “how the heck am I going to pull this one off?”
I’d taken the first few hours slow but for some unknown reason, I was more tired then than I would ever be again on the rest of the ride. I hadn’t rested properly. It was as if I’d forgotten how to shut off. I’d managed to sneak in a balmy four hours rest, not nearly enough in the grand scheme of things.
The huge build up was more tiring than the ride itself. There were no provisions of rest in my lead up to the event which in hindsight would have made it a far safer thing. But overall I believe that’s all apart of the excitement! That was all apart of the journey. It’s like jumping off a bridge into murky water. The nerves which build up in your body are all apart of overcoming your challenges, its all about convincing your brain to do something it doesn’t want to do.
It took its toll on the day though. I remember sitting at a petrol station an hours drive outside of Wellington with my head between my legs not knowing where I was going to get my strength from in order to get this show back on the road. It was an anxious few moments of not knowing if I was going to make it. It reminded me of when I was all alone at the beginning deciding to take up the opportunity to give this bike ride a go, I felt really isolated.
So like all moments of wisdom, I checked my cell phone. Opened the Facebook app and to my surprise, I had a wave of posts from family and friends supporting me every leg of the way. Even personal messages from people I’d never met before wishing me a safe trip. I’d forgotten about all the people out there who were rooting for me. It had not occurred to me yet that I had spent months yelling out at the top of my lungs that i was doing this thing and had started a chain reaction.
When I saw those messages when I read their praises. It quickly dawned on me that this was going to be the moment I delivered on my promises. From that point on it was a realisation that I was not doing this alone and that regardless of whether or not I physically made it, the fact of the matter was that if I got back onto my bike in that moment, it was proof to not only my supporters around the country but actually prove to myself that I was giving it a go.
That’s all that matters in the end. It’s that you try. Because without starting something you’re all words and no action. Without getting back on the bike you’re just a the boy who cries wolf and nobody likes that guy. The most powerful thing about overcoming your challenges is actually just trying. The easiest way to do that is recognising that you are loved and at no stage in that process are you alone.
The coolest thing about living in this world is that there are a lot of people who will come to the party when you need them to be there. Those crazy taxi drivers who will top up your campaign twice the amount they charged you for your taxi fare to the airport. Those loopy aunties who bake too many cakes for your waiting, the neighbours who share your Facebook post to their famous friends who then on share to more famous friends and get police cars to follow you through Auckland.
It’s about recognising that at no point in this journey of overcoming life will you ever be alone. Thankfully we live in a digitally connected world where socialising never sleeps and people can donate via credit cards. This is the world you live in. But it’s extremely important to remember that nothing will ever change for you if you don’t try. Deliver on your promises and always do exactly what you say you’ll do.
On the last chapter of this series, we will look at finishing your challenge and reflecting on it to make sure you can take something away from it in a bid to inspire more people to follow suit! But until then…
Thanks for checking in!