AdventureCHALLENGING EVENTS, CHANGING LIVES.

Challenge for Change News

Follow the CFC team and event participants as they tackle physically challenging events to raise funds and awareness for Eagles Wings.

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It's here!  Day 8. Most of us have lost count of which day it is throughout the week, but today we all know. Final day!  There's a sense of excitement but also some mixed feelings that our team will be going our separate ways. We've grown together as we work, ride, sleep and eat together in very close quarters. 

Both teams are on their way to Milford Sound. Team 20 left first this morning and Team 27 followed behind by an hour or so.  This way they will arrive at the end together.  Support crew have been organising tonight's dinner and we will soon be on our way also. I know there will be many photos of the final destination this afternoon.

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"The strength of the team is each member.  The strength of each member is the team".  Phil Jackson.

Here we are in Te Anau.  The last three days we have had little or no internet, so apologies for no blog.  

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The excitement of Day 3 began just before midnight on Day 2 when we were evacuated from the Youth Hostel due to a fire alarm. It was a great fashion parade of pyjamas, although most looked less than impressed. 

I decided in the morning that this would be the day I highlighted "A Day in the Life of the Ground Crew". There are many obvious tasks such as cooking, cleaning, hauling luggage, driving, filming...but there are many facets to these tasks.  Cooks have to work out the available cooking facilities to determine what they can physically cook and then search the local shops for possible options that fit the budget.  The media crew not only film but figure out interesting angles, take up various poses on banks, under bridges and in the middle of overpasses. Then they sit up till all hours of the editing.

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There is an African proverb that says:  "if you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together."  Today was about distance .....the longest day of the ride...well we hope it is. Breakfast at 5.00 am and dinner at 9.00 pm  and a full day of riding in between.  Those riders who did the South Island three years ago were delighted to see the sun out as they travelled  through Arthur''s Pass. They got to see the views that were covered in mist last time. A highlight was the viaduct where we rode or drove under the huge pipe and waterfall. 

230 kms with approximately 1400 metres of climbing does not add up to a fast day, but it does add up to a day of "going together".  We watched in awe as Team 27 powered up the hills.  We watched in greater awe as those new to riding persevered and struggled as others encouraged them with a hand on their back...riding together.

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Coming home:
We started the final day somewhere between Inglewood and Warwick. Kelvin did the daybreak shift and got us into Warwick - a novel experience coming across traffic lights, stop signs and roundabouts for the first time in a week! We had the rider change-over at the Roadhouse on the eastern side of Warwick - El was up for the range... that's the Great Diving Range... on a fixie!! She was great, climbing like a pro, then loving the descent.

Navigation was a bit interesting on the final day. Most of the way across the country, we haven't had too many options. Now, coming back into built-up areas, there are multiple options, all with their pros and cons - shorter distance, less hills, less traffic, wider shoulder, etc. It's a challenge (that we accepted) to make the 'right' call. In the end, it was Andy who stuck the following into Google Maps:
From: current location
To: Thornlands
Method: Bike

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The 'night-shift' was 6 x 2 hr rotations shared between 3 riders. A few navigational points: Head East to Cobar, North to Bourke, East towards Walgett. Teamwork got them through.

Meanwhile the night-crew shot ahead to a camp spot about 40km east of Bourke (we're no longer in the Back of Bourke!!), to a campsite on the Bogan River. We were still experiencing strong wind gusts at midnight, so we ditched the gazebos and just slept on stretchers under the stars - absolutely magic! We awoke to the message that the riders had gone past, so after a few photos of the sunrise (who knew that the Bogan River could be so pretty?), we were packed up and chasing the riders down.

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After a restful night, Reid took the first shift out of Broken Hill this morning, it was still pretty windy, with gusts up to 50km/h. He didn't stop for food or a drink refill, just punched out 100km in 3 hours (technical average of 33.6km/h).

Dan, Andy, Kelvin and I chased him out of town, looking for a quick morning coffee en-route. We saw a Hungry Jacks drive through at the edge of town - quick, turn in. We rolled through in a bit of a rush...
Nat: "quick guys, what's your order?"
Um, ah, "2 large flat whites, 1 small cap, Kelvin, anything, anything to drink? No, okay..."
Once we pulled up at the pay and collect window, he wanted one... too late buddy. On reflection, we didn't really prepare him for his first drive through coffee experience... it must seem odd shouting a coffee order at a box on the side of a driveway. But no-one was offering to share their coffee, fortunately I'd made a Milo in my travel mug before we left... that'll do (for Kelvin).

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Wednesday saw the crew awake to another awesome campsite, with views of Horrocks Pass. We certainly had a loo with a view!

Horrocks Pass, which auto-corrects to 'Horrible Pass' as I type, was a nasty climb. Big A was doing the final 5km of his 106km shift. It was a This climb was at an average grade of 5% with a final kicker of 11.8% let's just say things got a bit emotional at the top.

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What a difference a sleep makes!

Inspired by Big A's 183km all-nighter on Sunday night, Reid and El teamed up to do a 300km team effort from 8pm Mon to 8am Tues. This was in 4  x 3 hour stints, of 75km each.

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Right, where were we...

Sunday night's dinner stop was just at the start of the 90 Mile Straight, an iconic piece of Australian highway. We have the luxury of 240V power on the road, running the Tough Power gear, provided by Intelliquip (thanks guys!). This meant we were able to blitz up a banana and Milo smoothie for the riders as one prepared to go, and then as the other recovered. Apparently this hits the spot.

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Yesterday (Saturday) saw us having a tasty roadside dinner of Spag Bol in Ravensthorpe. For about 20 mins, all 11 of us were in the one spot. With the constant moving and switching of riders, crew and bikes in and out of the different vehicles, I'm surprised we haven't left anyone on the side of the road (though it's only Day 2)! On that, a few of us have been guilty of leaving a blanket, pillow, hoodie or cycling shoes in the wrong place. I think we'll have ourselves sorted in a week.

By 2am Sunday morning, all 4 riders had done 2 x shifts each. El and Kelvin headed out after dinner, punching through the night to join the newly relocated base camp in Dalyup. The night rides are tough, lonely and quite different to how you would normally ride at home or train for an event. I hope our offers of chocolates, bananas, home baked goodies (thanks Jill!) and boiled eggs on the side of the road, are a welcome sight to the riders.

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If I could go back in time and repack for this event, I would put in way more warm clothes. Friday night/Saturday morning were freezing! The cyclists struggled to drink their water (El's started to freeze), or eat their food (numb and fat fingers with thick gloves on). The ride support crew stayed in the car as long as possible, before jumping out at each stop to shiver their way through a bottle refill, sanity check-in or cyclist changeover. With temperatures around zero overnight, the 'base camp' stayed put inside the ute, rather than setting up camp in the dark.

El started off at 5am on Saturday, and witnessed a frosty first-light with a spectacular sunrise - though she had to wipe the ice off her glasses to see it!

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The Assembly
After months of training and what feels like only weeks of planning, checklists and long-winded emails... the team all met in Perth today.

We come from different stages of life, different professions and different states. We've had 1 drive from Brisbane, 2 fly from Sydney, 1 finishing holidays in Perth, 6 fly from Brisbane and 1 fly from Zambia... that makes 11. Quick head count 1, 2, 3...11 yep, we're all here.

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It’s hard to really picture what this event is going to look like once we hit the road. Will the crew be leap-frogging with the rider, will we be cooking and camping on the side of the road (yep), how often can we shower, should we take a shovel? There's probably no such thing as a "typical day" in a 24/7 event… our latest motto is “Over-prepare, then go with the flow”. This event can’t happen without a willing support crew - each member of the crew will be contributing to make sure that ‘all’ the riders have to do is turn their legs over. Shopping, washing, fuelling up, cooking, setting up tents, chatting to the locals and the media, keeping the riders safe on the road, adjusting plans, filming, navigating, updating social media, playing card games, working on our tan… all in a day’s work. Let us introduce the 2016 Fixin’ Poverty Crew.

Laith Beveridge
Head Spanner and Owner of Cranks Bicycle Garage

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In our last blog post, Reid gave us the WHY of the ride. This post is all about the HOW.

If you’re wondering what all the talk about “Fixies” or “Single Speed” is about… our team mechanic and member of the support crew, Laith puts it in simple terms for the non-cyclists out there. Thanks Laith!

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Sometimes I questions myself as to WHY on earth do I, and others like me, do dumb stuff (riding fixies across Australia is not smart – adventurous, but not smart) to raise money for those living in extreme poverty? I don’t think there is a straight forward answer to that question. It would be a whole lot easier if people just gave generously and I stayed home. Man that sounds good right now!

Here is what I have noticed over the 16+ years I have spent raising money around poverty based issues. People rarely give or give little when you rock up and talk to them about poverty and how they can help. Sometimes you win big, most times you go away with loose change. And I get that. If I hear someone I don’t know speak about their mission in life I myself rarely give. Not sure if I ever have to be honest! So I understand.

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I am humbled to share with you a little bit of a story of my life. My name is Kelvin Lufwandika, I am 25 years old and I work as the Computer Manager, Network Administrator and Computer Teacher at Eagles Wings Christian Community School in Zambia. I am married to Barbara and we have two daughters, Fiddes and Dorothy.

In my childhood I was attending a poor community school in my compound but my twin sisters heard that they could get money by begging in town. My sisters were beaten many times by the older street children, so I started escorting them to town after school each day, and by the age of 11, I was fighting for our survival on the streets. During this time, I met Ba Reid and Ba Lackson from Eagles Wings. My sisters and I started going to a Government school and experiencing the generosity of Eagles Wings in Zambia.

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Well, just on 6 weeks to go until we embark on this crazy adventure riding from Perth to Brisbane – 4 cyclists, 4 Single Speed bikes, 7 days, relay style! We can do this!

For those who don’t know me, I am new to the Eagles Wings - Challenge For Change Team and at times I am questioning my sanity the night I met up with Reid, Big A and Hedgy to hear about this ‘adventure’! The guys explained their plans and asked me what I thought, “I’m in!”, was my reply all the time thinking how do I go home and explain to family that I’ve decided to ride across Australia!

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My association with Eagles Wings (EW) is coming up on 10 years. Numerous cycling adventures throughout Australia and NZ and even a semi-famous Backwards Cycling Guinness World Record have left me wanting to do something special in 2016.

 

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“Hey Reid check out the link I sent you on two guys riding fixies across the Nullarbor…”

It’s funny how things start out. Í have many ideas for raising funds through slightly challenging, come ridiculously hard events. Many die a natural death and never get past first base. One year we seriously considered having a race from Sydney to Brisbane between Kayakers and runners. It seemed like a very good idea. But it died. Then Andy wanted to ride his bike across the Nullarbor…backwards. I tried to explain to him that there is no way we would get a permit to do that! The conversation went like:

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Up nice and early for the last day of this years Challenge For Change. Yet again another cold morning for this bunch of warm blooded Queenslanders.

 

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It would be remise not to pay tribute to our support crew. Graham, or Hedgy to his friends, leads the team and is the perfect man for the job. No task is to hard or to small. No request from either rider or cook is insignificant. If something needs to  be done, he will find a way to do it. The support crew is divided into two teams. The road crew who drive with the cyclists and the ground crew who look after washing and cooking. Wesley travels with either of the teams, helping and also getting to know the riders, as does Rihanna, our videographer. There are eight road crew, two per vehicle and two vehicles per team. The road crew keep our cyclists safe on the road. They manage the flow of traffic as it passes the cyclists and at each rest stop they are there helping the cyclists with heir gear, keeping them fed and topping up their water bottles. The ground crew are amazing. the prepare all the food, supplying food for the riders to take on the road, a snack when they arrive in the afternoon, breakfast and dinner. The conditions that they sometimes have to cook under can be challenging. However, every meal is nutritious and full of flavour. You hear no complaints, just people asking for seconds. In addition, they wash all the clothes over night, ready for the riders to wear the next day.

 

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Back on the road and back into the countryside. We leave the city of Wodonga behind and are heading to Bright. Once again rolling green hills and pastoral vistas. The wattles are in full bloom and in every creek bed there is a weeping willow. The sky is clear, the sun is shining and days are warmer. We have left the cold weather behind, well almost. The mornings are still very cool and by the end of the day we will be heading into the Victorian snow fields. We are in Victoria which is the land of coffee drinkers. For every coffee drinker there is a good barista. And what do all good cyclists like to do, drink good coffee. There are two coffee stops planned today. The first in the small country town of Yackandandah and twenty-five kilometres later, a roadhouse in Dederang. These two towns have been reconnoitred to ensure the quality of the coffee is good. In both towns, not only good coffee but good service. Yakandandah also provided giant cakes. Both teams are traveling well today. As usual Team Twenty-seven left first soon followed by Team Twenty. You may be wondering how the teams got their names. Team Twenty-seven are more experienced riders. They are disciplined in their riding and average twenty-seven kph. Team Twenty, while also strong riders, average twenty kph. Team Twenty-seven arrived into Yackandandah, ordered their coffee and enjoyed a short break. Just as they finished and were climbing onto their bikes, Team Twenty rolled in. The happy barista had just finished making the first teams order and had to start again. The same happened in Dederang. As Team Twenty-seven were leaving, Team Twenty rolled in. It shows the strength of Team Twenty to match the pace of the Twenty-sevens. It was also a good time for some brief but positive interaction between the two teams.

 

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Today we leave the country town of Colac Colac and head for the regional city of Wodonga. 157kms across country to Lake Hume and then following the shore line into Wodonga. There were a couple of big hills, however, for every hill that went up, there was a hill that went down. After the first big hill climb for the day, Jonathan, one of the Team Twenty riders said “I enjoyed that”. The riders are getting stronger. The temperature was warmer, the sky was clear, the sun was shining. Team Captain Paul mentioned that the whole team enjoyed todays ride. Our riders were provided spectacular scenery when they reached Lake Hume. An old disused railway has been converted into a bikeway. The riders were dropped on the opposite side of Lake Hume to ride the bikeway. This included crossing the lake via a long bridge, giving them a 360-degree vista of the lake. What a great way to finish a day’s riding. The riders met up with their road crew for the final ride into town and their accommodation. 

 

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Our ride continues in earnest today as we leave the alpine region. It was a day of contrasts and a day off firsts. The contrast of leaving overcast snowy conditions into clear sunny weather. It was the first day we crossed into Victoria and the first time a bunch of Queenslanders tried to attach snow chains to the wheels of their cars.

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We woke this morning, looked out our windows and saw the surrounding paddocks covered with a white blanket of snow, kangaroos hopping through the snow, grazing on the grass beneath. A postcard winter wonderland. However, this is spring and we have a job to do. A mini snowman was built on one of the picnic tables, all before breakfast. As the sun rose higher our snowman watched the rest of the snow dissipate clearing the way for todays ride. Our goal today is to ride up Kosciuszko as far as Perisher Valley and while the day started in snow we had relatively clear skies. The good news is no one got wet. It was definitely chilly and as predicted colder than yesterday. a thirty-five kilometre climb and then a thirty-five kilometres down hill rush. Our riders were able to ride up at their own speed. No bunch riding up the mountain. Each one was able to ride within their own ability. While it was a hard ride, reaching the end was a great sense of achievement. The team dynamics are also starting to develop which is preparing the way for the longer rides over the next few days.

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Kosciuszko Challenge 2015 

 

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NZ Challenge 2014 - North Island

Kaitaia to Cape Reinga

Another Challenge for Change draws to a close. Today is the last day. Our plan today is to ride to Cape Reinga, the very northern tip of New Zealand. We did not have to pack our bags before we leave as we are returning to the same accommodation. A later start, a later breakfast and a bit of a sleep in. Well only a little bit. We still have to ride 140kms today. 

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NZ Challenge 2014 - North Island


Dargaville to Kaitaia

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NZ Challenge 2014 - North Island

Thames to Dargaville

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NZ Challenge 2014 - North Island

Rotorua to Thames

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NZ Challenge 2014 - North Island

Turangi to Rotorua

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NZ Challenge 2014 - North Island

Wanganui to Turangi
Day two and a rhythm is beginning to emerge. An early start as we have a lot of kilometres to cover today. 173kms and a few big climbs. We started the day hearing about life in Zambia from Ba Lackson. He was telling us about blind beggars in Ndola. They use young children to guide them around and to beg for them. Lackson tells us that it is wrong for these children to be used this way. They should be in school, receiving an education. Providing for their future. Without it they will end up on the street themselves begging with no prospect for employment. These are the children Eagles Wings are taking off of the streets and placing in school. Your contributions do count. Helping these children reach there God given potential.

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NZ Challenge 2014 - North Island
Levin to Wanganui

8:00am bikes have been prepped. Shiny new shirts unwrapped and worn for the first time. Excitement is held in check. 23 riders holding there bikes and waiting for the go. Big Andy is giving the prep talk and starting the video blog. "Welcome to NZ Challenge for 2015"...... Take Two ....... "Welcome to day one of the NZ Challenge for 2015"??? Take Three ...... "Welcome to day one of the NZ Challenge 2014" Big Cheer. Team 27 lead by Andrew set off first followed by Team 20 lead by Big Andy. Team 20 took a wrong turn and added an extra five kilometres before they were back on track.

Day one as always was with out adventure.  The teams are finding there feet, getting to know there fellow riders. A few new riders learning the ropes of riding with Challenge For Change.

Day one, 127kms. A couple of nice hills towards the end of the ride. The Team 27 donkey award for the day goes to Robbie. Wheeling into Wanganui and stopping at a red light, not paying attention to where he was going and had to break suddenly and there he goes, over the handle bars. Nothing hurt, only his pride. As Robbie said he had a choice of running into the back of a couple of riders so instead he took one for the team and took the dive.

They say that accidents are more likely to happen when you are close to the finish. Please remain alert riders. Ride safe so we can bring you all home safely. 

Both teams arrived early this afternoon. Time to reflect on the day and relax. To prepare for the big days ride tomorrow. Rest well tonight. It is up early for you tomorrow with a long ride ahead. Ride well for the children of Eagles Wings

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4am. Brisbane Airport. The first team members arrive for to leave for this years Challenge For Change.  One thousand kilometres from Wellington in New Zealand to the very northern tip of the North Island. 

Three separate flights to carry all the bikes. The first group leaving at 5:00am. One via Melbourne, one via Sydney and one direct to Wellington. All arriving about the same time.

Bad news, Reid's bike has gone missing. We are shuttled to our overnight accommodation in Levin. After many telephone conversations they still cannot locate Reid's bike so Reid's cousin, a NZ local, comes to the rescue with a spare bike he can borrow. 

And so the journey begins. Cyclist and crew get ready. We are off on our big adventure tomorrow. 

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Day Seven
Te Anau to Milford Sound
117km | 1500 climbing meters

The New Zealand Challenge has all but ended. After 1042km and 10723 climbing meters from Christchurch to Milford Sound everyone has arrived safely. I think the memory of the climb up to Homer Tunnel, a dark, wet, 1.2km tunnel that enters through a mass of rock and descends into an open Jurassic Park to Milford Sound will be firmly etched into the minds of everyone. It has been an epic journey for most and I don't think that is an overestimation of the week which has been endured. There were only a couple of little hiccups for the day which had Richie take the donkey award from Darren (asked Richie what happened) and Andrew Hellinga finish in his socks on a bike made for a 5 foot lady. Being 6 foot 6 it was a very humbling and funny way to end such a massive journey.

Everyone can ask their friends and family about the journey they have undertaken so I won't write anymore about the journey itself but the things that were shared during the debrief time with each team. Debriefing is something we value greatly as a way for people to share their heart with everyone before they enter their worlds again. After spending a week together, overcoming many challenges as a team, many have their natural defences down and share openly. It is an amazing experience and privilege to just be a part of it and listen. I went from one group to another just to hear in their own words what this week has meant to them:

Some comments from Team 20
I never want to do this again - Yvonne (second ride and is an inspiration to all)
I've never met a group of young people like them - Di (positive reference to our young crew who brought so much enthusiasm and energy)
This has been the hardest but most rewarding experience of my life - Dan L
I don't know anywhere else where I can get this same type of mateship - Matt
I never expected you could go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in the space of one hour - Marina

Some comments from Team 27
I've learnt to cope with stressful situations and continue on - Darren
Every time you achieve something it's not quite as frightening as it was (reference to climbing hills/life) - Paul C
To be with a group like this is worth millions - Owen
It's something I'm trying to instil in my kids; to never give up - Richard A
Makes me realise there is more to life than work (first holiday in six years! Though it was not quite a holiday we all understood his point) - Nikko (support driver)
It's been a challenge to me this week that I can do it [cycle]. I'm 52, overweight, but I will put it to you all next year I am doing it - Greg P (support driver)

There were a lot of tears and some really positive stories that came out of debrief. It seems like God just works through anything and everything He chooses. We kind of box things in; give objective and purposes to them (organisations). But no matter what the organisations purpose is God is still intimately interested in our lives. So it is great that while we run these events to change the lives of children living in extreme poverty God is changing us in the process.

Thank you to Hedgy, Dan, Andy and Andy who work tirelessly in organising and leadership to pull of these events and do their best to bring everyone home safe.

Maybe if I could just end with what I heard today: Live life, but live with a core value to care for vulnerable children - Andrew Hellinga

Reid

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Day Six
Queenstown to Te Anau
176km | 1073 climbing meters

Complaints, Cafes and Calculators


New Zealand police have been very nice to us. Over the past week team 20 have had three visits from them. I am not sure why Team 20 has ended up with a 3 to 0 score line? Team 27 have their reasons though (naughty). I think two have come from complaints (vehicles held up - it does not take long for drivers to vent their frustration!) and one random check. It is a little puzzling though as we have never had this issue before [complaints]. Being a massive tourist destination where most of the traffic is made up of campervans and buses there must be a few tourists in a hurry to get somewhere? Our teams generally gasp more than a few times a day as drivers take really bad overtaking options.

We move on pretty much oblivious to the world's worries. Stopping of at a Café today (70km from Te Anau) for a coffee stop we were accosted by a manager or owner. After purchasing coffees, milkshakes and fries (energy!) we were approached by a man asking "Do we know where we are?" I personally was a little confused as I didn't know what the name of the town was, so I couldn't answer him? Next came, "This is a café get your own food out of here!" Awkward silence proceeded as we tried to digest what he was saying, until it clicked. It was a different kind of customer service. We then tried to set up Andy Hellinga (leader Team 20) by letting him know there is a really friendly café owner who lets you BYO food, so bring in your eskies and make yourself at home (chilly bins for kiwis)! Bad boys I know, very bad. Andy by-passed the café and kept his team moving. Good move, and sorry to all the café owners who feel for this guy.

At this stage we have one day left! A 120km ride to Milford Sound. Paul Taylor probably has had enough and is more than looking forward to the end point. He is bruised and battered, suffering really bad saddle sores, leg pain and after a little bingle today is ready to throw his bike away. Others are starting to click on that there seems to be more than 6500 climbing meters from Christchurch to Milford Sound. We are currently at 9223 with one day to go - I honestly don't know how I came up with 6500? But it does seem like I am going to receive a new calculator for Christmas. Even people at home are making it known on our Facebook page (thanks Phil)!

So after a really good ride today by both teams we are ready for the final leg. Tomorrow will see Team 20 head out first with Team 27 starting off around 2 hours later so we can all meet up at Milford Sound at around the same time. Words like "hunt them down" have been mentioned by Team 27 in a joking, but really serious way. We will keep it safe and try to enjoy our last day. Everyone will have their visual senses exploding as they try and take in all that this ride tomorrow offers. So staying focused till the end will be reinforced tonight!

What a week it has been. Some want to keep riding, others have had enough. Please send through any comments and encouragement you can for the team to finish well.

Reid

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Day Five
Wanaka to Queenstown
70km | 1050 climbing meters

Today's ride headed out from Wanaka (what an awesome spot that is!) across Crown Range, which is from what I understand the highest sealed road in New Zealand at around 1070 meters. It's not the easiest of climbs, again a category two climb, which for the non-rider basically means it's really, really hard. Both teams are hurting and I think on the edge as they try and manage their injuries - physically and mentally! But we have one last big day to Te Anau (170km away) before our last day down to Milford Sound.

I was with Team 20 today, so I got to experience Crown Range with them. Honestly I don't know how some of them make it up? I know how much I hurt and cannot comprehend how a team of cycling hacks (I mean that respectfully as many have only just picked up a bike for the first time this year) make it? Some attack it until they drop and then start again, others just roll one leg over at a time at walking pace until they finally summit. Either way it really hurts.

In one sense it's not good that people are hurting and in pain, but in reality this is what it is about. If people came on these events and cruised through it would seem pretty pointless. Pointless in the sense that our purpose is to raise funds and awareness for vulnerable children; kids that hurt every day. It would almost be dishonouring to laugh and giggle our way through. It would not make any sense. So when we see participants push their limits, it lines up with our mission to run Challenging Events to Change lives.

So Team 27 has been given the challenge tonight by their team leader to push through and finish well. To make sure at the end of the 170km day they know they have nothing left. Then our last day will be a cruise ... maybe?

Reid

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Day Four
Haast to Wanaka
145km | 1800 climbing meters

Today's ride was really, really good. In the sense that for most of Team 27 it will rate in their best ever or at least top three rides they have ever done. They suffered but that is always a given, but the conditions and environment were out of this world. For those who have traveled Haast to Wanaka you will understand what I am saying.

It has a mountain pass around 45km out of Haast which is a category two climb and then some great downhills, long sweeping roads (and a tailwind always helps!) where we were able to really wind up the pace. It then moves into lake territory where you ride next to a massive lake (Lake Hawea) for around 20km. In a sense we were lucky to get through as Haast Pass still closes at times during heavy rain due to a large landslide some months back that has not been completely cleared and secured. We had no plan B if this was the case as there is simply no way through to Wanaka unless the pass is open.

But don't let the "top three rides ever" fool you; there are a few stories to share out of the day. It was not uneventful. Team leader Andrew Francis has introduced the "donkey award" (or whatever little animal friend we can find in Wanaka that can be attached to a bike!). The donkey award goes to a majority team vote for the dumbest, craziest, laziest rider for the day. Today's nominations went to:

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Day Three
Franz Josef to Haast
145km | 1500 climbing meters

In some ways today's ride was uneventful. Not overly hard, but the accumulated strain is still taking its toll. Over the past three days we have covered 532km at 177km per day, with around 5300 climbing meters. Some of the riders have injuries that have come about through lack of prior training (Paul T, Ben, Dan L and little Hedge) and they are just trying to manage them or cling on to the pack! That?s a lesson right there in prior preparation! Others (Marty) somehow did not train, wear army boots (seriously), and yet finish the day still looking fresh! He chose to take a bet that if he wore his army boots for the 1000km he would bank $550 for the cause! Nuts, but he seems to pull it off well.

The start of the day had the riders trying to get over three smallish peaks out of Franz Josef to Fox Glacier. In Fox we picked up a German cyclist Veit, (pronounced Fight!) who was hoping to make Haast - still 125km away. He was carrying 30kg in his pannier bags (he was 65kg at best), but managed to stick with the team. Though, after pushing so hard to keep up he cramped servery. Sophie sorted his cramps out (which was very amusing) and helped to get him back on his bike. So Veit if you are reading this blog you need to make a donation for our services! A big one.

So we are all traveling well enough. Our support crew are doing an excellent job and a massive thank you to our cooks who have been cooking up some amazingly good dishes over the last few days. We have a long way to go and some pretty awesome towns still to come. To get there won?t be easy but everyone is doing their best whether they are riding or supporting.

Reid

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Day Two
Arthurs Pass to Franz Josef
234km | 1600 climbing meters

As I write this blog team 20 are still on the road and its 6:51pm New Zealand time. They are expected to arrive into Franz Josef around 8:30pm. They left Authors Pass at 6:10am putting a total riding time of 13 hours 39 minutes. That is a massive day on the bike. Team 27 arrived just past 4:30pm. On average team 20 will ride for 25% longer each day which means they will sit on their small [very small] bike seat for 13 hours longer than team 27. The physical and mental drain is huge as saddle sores increase (they really, really hurt!) and mentally knowing that each day team 27 arrive with an extra 1-4 hours of down time must be debilitating at times. In short sometimes it must be really painful being a slower cyclist. But I am sure this only adds to what they learn about life and themselves.

Over the years because of these physical differences team 27 have been at times unfairly named as egotistical, arrogant, uncaring, self-centred you name it, it has been said about this group. But what people dont see is what stood out today.

Today's ride was a 234km journey from Authors Pass to Franz Josef. We started in 3 degrees and it was wet (freezing). If it was simply a training ride you would pull the covers over your head, switch off the alarm and go back to sleep. But we cannot. We have to continue. From start to finish nobody in this team missed a turn over the 234km. To non-cyclists this simply means as you rotate as a team, cyclists will stay at the front and push into the wind for a period of time before they rotate through for the next cyclist. This means that the cyclist behind you is working 20% less, saving energy. As you start to suffer more and more generally on a ride of this length cyclists will begin to miss there turn (even much sorter rides!), meaning you leave the hard work to others while you sit out at the back. At times it is left to 2 or 3 cyclists to do all the work to get the team home.

From about the 160km mark I starting asking the riders how they were feeling more regularly. Up until this point most were saying "doing ok". But really they were all hurting past the 100km mark (faces tell the story!). Something happens though when you reach a certain point of suffering; you begin to become more honest with others. So hence past the 160km mark everyone was saying "I'm hurting!?" But that still left 74km or around 2.5 hours to complete the day and yet they all still did their work at the front, even though they were all hurting bad.

Personally I have never seen this before, and both Andrew Francis (team leader) and I were in disbelief at how everyone was willing to suffer because they knew the rest of their team mates were also suffering. To me this is a massive testament to everyone. They did their job to get everyone home together. Personally I am glad it didn't go past 234km as I was very sore, and even though Andy wouldn't admit it, it was obvious he was in pain as he couldn't speak without slurring his words after the day was done.

Very impressive and maybe there is something we can all take from this about pain, suffering and working together to get everyone through it.

Tomorrow there will be some very tired riders.

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Day One
Christchurch to Arthurs Pass
155km | 2200 climbing meters

Ok, if you hear today's ride was "ok", or "not to bad" whoever you hear that from is a liar. Today was epic.

Leaving Christchurch at 7:00am into a direct headwind was not the best start; for some demoralising. Christchurch is a coastal city and hence lies close to sea level and the ride out is on a false flat, which basically means it looks flat but actually has a slight rise up into the mountains. Combine these factors together and you never have the chance to rest. By the time we actually hit the climb the majority of team 20 were completely spent. They had no cookies left! We later heard while team 27 made the climb the headwind was so strong it blew two riders off there bike. But team 27 are prone to exaggeration.

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Pre-trip 29th November 2013

At 5:30am the Aussie contingent arrived at Brisbane airport for the New Zealand Challenge. For some it would be their first flight oversees (yes New Zealand is a separate country!) for others there would be other things occupying their minds, like why did I not train more than I did?! Either way there was a nervous energy as the team checked in for their flight.

At 3:00pm the team arrived into Christchurch; overcast but with a seemingly good weather forecast for the next two days at least. Bikes were assembled and last minute team meetings outlining again the basics of getting through day one, a 155km ride up to Authors Pass. Andy Hellinga (team leader team 20) asked his team how they were feeling, taking a caring approach, while Andrew Francis (team leader team 27) told his team they have to average 30+ on the flats or he would start to cull. Basically this is the difference between the teams! But all seem to thrive in their respective team environments!

So for now we are in Christchurch, looking at taking one small step towards our end point at Milford Sound one thousand kilometres away. In between these two points there is going to be a whole lot of stuff go on. It's going to be good. People are going to suffer, but we are all going to get to know each other really well, and that is the definition of adventure. And on a small note, it seems like all the blokes who packed their own bags forgot towels. Which for some was a good thing, as our first nights? accommodation has ?shared facilities? which can be a little daunting at times!

As many of you would know, all of this pain is in aid of assisting vulnerable children within four small communities of Ndola, Zambia. To date the team has raised enough to support 80 children into school and over $20,000 thanks to over $15,000 raised by our bro's in NZ!

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No sooner does one challenge finish but another starts!

On 28th October, a group of kids from the Eagles Wings school will leave their land locked home of Zambia for the first time and head to the ocean to learn to surf with a group of Aussie surfers for the Surf Challenge

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Well it's a few days since I’ve completed my 24hr backwards cycling attempt and unofficially the distance that I’ve covered is 337k.

A question asked by many, ”was Guinness World Records there to witness the event?” The answer is “No” we will have to put our documents (witness statements), photos, Video coverage and whatever we can find to prove that we have set the record before it becomes official. This I will presume will take 6-8 weeks.

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Ever since Reid Anderton set the new World Record for Cycling around Australia, my desire has been to continue Challenge for Change’s consistency for being recognised as a group that is fair dinkum about doing challenging events to raise funds and awareness for children that live in poverty in Zambia.

What could I do?? A 46 year old father, who typically at this age is battling the elements when it comes to doing anything physically incredible.

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Now that Reid has had a few days to recover, we got some time with him to ask him some of the questions that have been asked by the cycling community on Strava and Twitter during the course of the Aussie Challenge.

You have built up quite a following on Strava and Twitter among the cycling community. What has it meant to you to read the comments of strangers as you completed the Aussie Challenge?

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It has been about a week since our team completed 14,178km around Australia at an average of 382.6km per day. Right now I am feeling every one of those kilometres as my body readjusts to life off the bike and off the pain relief that formed part of my daily routine. You may not believe it but I am finding it more difficult to walk now than when I hoped off the bike at around 5:25am Tuesday morning. But life is good. I was able to take my little girl, Sierra to a “big” park and hobble around after her; no push to get to the next town, no road trains and P platers stressing me out (no Sydney drivers!) and no headwinds to deal with, just peace for making it home to take my daughter to a park.

Before I left, the majority of cycling friends had me down as no chance of making the journey. They had thought they would see me again the following week for a club ride and coffee while the majority of non-cycling friends had me down as a chance. Personally, I really did not know how I would go. This challenge had me scared like no other, I knew the numbers and knew it would push me beyond my limits but I did not understand the depth of pain and despair I would fall into. To tell you the truth, riding close to 400km per day is okay, it is the conditions in which you ride these kilometres that make all the difference. It was the conditions that turned me into wild man on the verge of insanity, screaming out in the middle of Western Australia night after night, begging God to take the headwinds away. I have never been one to swear, I tried it in primary school but it didn’t seem to suit me so I stopped, but swearing became a natural and daily stress relief for me and as told the winds to (expletive) off so often that I started to think this ride was destroying me as a person and changing my character for the worst. I battled 5 consecutive days of massive headwinds from 100km out of Port Headlands all the way to Perth  - over 2000km of a completely dehumanising process that turned me into a madman.

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The Finish Line   

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  • $670,000
  • Raised since 2008
  • 9
  • Countries cycled
  • 435
  • Participants
  • 29,800
  • Kilometres cycled