Thursday, 17 April 2014

Support crew perspective

It was fantastic having a support crew with me for the Graperide Monster and I'm very grateful to them.  Brent, Raewyn and Iain have kindly taken up my suggestion that they write a few words on how things went from their perspective, including any insights they might have gained into the sport and about support-crewing.  Helen, however, has no comment apart from a very telling one, "You're an idiot!"

Brent's view:

'It was Nick Dunne who mentioned Andrew might need an extra hand doing the Mammoth.  I have a lot of respect for Nick; I have asked his advice in the past since he accepted my Facebook friend-request.  I said sure, I would be keen to help, without really giving it any thought.  It sounded like a bit of an adventure, and the chance to help out Andrew appealed to me as since meeting him at a post-Taupo BBQ held by a mutual friend, I have always thought he was a top bloke.

"Having done a few endurance cycling events, I have an idea of what is involved in riding a bike for an extended time, but the endurance events I have been involved in are nothing compared to what Andrew was contemplating.  My thoughts on Andrew's attempt at the Mammoth were:

  • "He's still a relatively new to endurance cycling, it would be great to help him out and watch him 'mix it up' with some top endurance cyclists.
  • "It would be interesting to see how he handles this incredible distance, I also almost wanted to see this friend of mine who is always so polite 'lose it' (It amazed me how after 50+ hours he was still thanking us for giving him water in such a sincere tone).
  • "It would be interesting to be part of a team and see the other side of endurance cycling, as I have made my wife support me on a couple of Taupo enduro's.

"Without taking up too much of Andrews blog,  what Andrew proved at the Mammoth in my view is that, cycling, especially endurance cycling, is such a mental game.  He extended his longest ride by a good few hundred kilometres on the grape ride, and I got to see how focused he was on finishing.  Very impressive.

"It was impressive how he beat a number of riders who have been around doing endurance events longer, or who are stronger riders, or who 'talk it up a lot more'.  These riders pulled out, some as early as lap two.

"I was proud to be on Andrew's team and help him out.  Even as a supporter you get tired and low on energy, and sick of seeing the same road, but riders who can ride 1,010 kms are no ordinary people, and its not every day you get to share that experience!"

Raewyn's view:

"Not too  much to say.  Just enjoyed being a part of it all and was really impressed with how you were during the race - managed to stay chirpy and in good spirits and plenty of smiles!  You're one tough bugger!!  Really enjoyed sharing it with Mum in the car, joking around, cheering everyone on, and heaps of sugar and coffee to keep us going.

"Your 7th lap was interesting but there was no way you were quitting.  Physically you were sore but strong.  Sounded like a mental struggle after talking with Di had brought the idea of quitting.  There was no way anyone of us was letting you quit.  I honestly expected more abuse and resistance from you but you responded with humour, which is awesome.

"I struggled a lot on Saturday, torn between seeing and supporting Mark and you and Mum.  I felt very nervous seeing the tired state you and Mum were in on the last couple of laps, especially with increased traffic on the roads.  I was anxious for your safety.

"Super super proud!  You're a legend for what you have achieved.

"After the race was funny.  Immediately afterwards, you were coherent and chatting to everyone.  As soon as you got home, you crashed mentally and physically.  It was like you were super super drunk.  Funny as!  Talking very slowly, slurring words and telling me you were concerned about me doing enduro [Raewyn is a top enduro cyclist; enduro is an event with multiple stages of long-distance down-hill mountain-biking] and thinking it was too dangerous.

"Think that is it."

Iain's view:

"I would recommend volunteering as a crew member to anyone wanting to gain an insight into endurance cycling. These guys out of necessity are very efficient cyclists and extremely organised. I certainly learnt a lot and my cycling has definitely benefited from my brief involvement with Andrew and the other members of his team and broader support network. I also found it a good opportunity to make new and strengthen existing relationships. I have to say there were no surprises with regard to Andrew’s temperament.  In spite of the lack of sleep and obvious fatigue he retained his usual good-natured demeanor throughout the whole event making it more of a pleasure than a chore crewing for him.

"All in all a great success. Hopefully when Andrew has fully recovered he is tempted to take up another challenge. As a crew member I found it very satisfying and gained an enormous sense of achievement from the whole experience. Definitely a team effort not forgetting the most significant contribution was from Andrew. Well done!"

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