Andrew Dewhurst is a freelance broadcaster and Director of Gracie Productions, a PR and Media Consultancy with clients including Triathlon NZ and the SKYCITY Breakers. Andrew is the football (Hyundai A-League and internationals) and tennis commentator (Heineken Open) for SKY Sport and was a key part of the team in London, calling amongst other things Lisa Carrington’s gold medal in the kayaking. Andrew also hosts Sport Lately on radio sport every Wednesday night from 8pm to midnight (www.radiosport.co.nz).
By Andrew Dewhurst
Where do I start? This is both the toughest sporting endeavour I have taken on and yet hugely rewarding. The BDO 7 Day Challenge is for all NZers, there are people from all walks of life, all backgrounds all with a shared passion for bike riding – and all at their own pace.
From Gordon McCauley at the front of the field, along with a bunch of great riders loving the chance to mix it up with one of the best in the business, to the likes of me towards the back of the field, and yes, after today I am definitely near the back!
The roads are amazing, the weather so far brilliant, apart from the vicious wind on day two that was in our faces the whole journey from Masterton across to Paihiatua and then into Palmy. And while everyone is able to do this, you have to have some training under the belt because this is a testing ride with hills to burn the quads and long straights to test your concentration.
Kris Gemmell (left) with Rex Bramley on one of the climbs on stage 5
I have met some great people, Phil the goat farmer from Timaru, Peter the surgeon from North Shore, David the mediator from Auckland and many many others. We all have our name and number on our backs so when riding in a group you can chat away and get to know people, there are some who are in my bunch more often than not, albeit today I said goodbye to them as they headed away up the big climb coming towards Wanganui!
I even had company today from Kris Gemmell, the former Olympian took time out in his day to ride with me for all but 10km of the first stage today, chatting away to others in our bunch throughout and sharing some advice along the way.
And I must mention a fellow cyclist who in the short time I knew him left an imprint, and I mean a short time. I shared a shuttle with Michael Springford from Wellington Airport and immediately he was a character, chatting to everyone who came close by. He was dry and droll but great value, he bought a group of us (all strangers to him) a cookie each from Subway while we were waiting for the shuttle. Sadly Michael passed away on Monday, just a few minutes into the afternoon ride and while there is yet to be a definitive word from the Coroner, it appears Michael suffered a heart attack. My thoughts have been with Michael’s family and friends in the days since, his son in law Aaron was on the ride and faced the worst few days with dignity and character, supported by the great event crew at Dynamo Events.
I have had a few moments, like letting my ‘roomie’ on tour Jayson Ryan head away to get himself sorted (he is in the lead car), I had packed all my gear and put it in the car, leaving me with my cycling gear and bike. I showered before heading off to the start, the shower flooded and all my gear got soaked on the bathroom floor. Off I went to the start, squishing all the way, I had 5 minutes to make a quick change before heading away, only just making the start. To make matters worse, my computer bounced off the bike at some point, resulting in a quick visit to AvantiPlus in Palmy to get a new one, the boys there looked after me too with a great discount to soften the blow!
It truly has been a great week so far though, incredibly challenging but that is more to do with the interrupted training over the past month with life taking over! I am suffering with a very tight IT band and cramping muscle in my right hip area – daily massage is helping tremendously but I am a little nervous about the days ahead. However with the camaraderie and spirit on this event will pull me through, the conversations shared on the bike and at the dinners and prize givings have been fantastic and everyone gives you a shout out as they go past – which in my case today happened fairly regularly – including Gordon McCauley warning me he was ‘coming to get me’ from about 100m back as he flew past (the top seeded group starts second each morning, with the group three riders given some time up the road to make sure we have an hour for some lunch!).