The Final Dash

Sat 1st October: Naseby to Middlemarch via MacCrae’s – 139km

Our tenth day on the road was to be our final one. The early wake up calls and the constant struggle to uniform up in our Lycra attire, the dehydration and constant hunger would all be a memory in only a few hill climb filled hours. My body thankfully had held up to this point and other than a complete lack of appetite for electrolyte drinks and energy bars I really didn’t want this incredible journey to come to an end.

Everyone had a spring in their step as we saddled up in Middlemarch. The climbs to Dunedin varied from the usual drags to the now also very family sheer ascents. The cycling terrain was our most challenging since before Queenstown but with the finishing line in sight we had that extra imputes to scale our final set of hills. Considering the amount of kilometers we had clocked up it was a credit to the whole pack of cyclists that we were still able to reach Outram, our last stop off point before Dunedin in great time.

The Final Train to DunedinThe Final Train to Dunedin

As we set off for Dunedin at a more reserved pace on the coast road it really did feel like we were part of a team. The final train worked seamlessly. It must have been an impressive sight for any passers by. The hours and hours of quite literally blood sweat and tears were about to come to an end. The group was at its tightest at that point. We all had a mutual respect for what each other had achieved. For some, this journey had started almost a year ago. Fundraising and planning, leading to charity events through to tough training and finally a far more difficult few weeks on the road and it was all going to be finished in only a few kilometers.

The full cycle crew having just reached DunedinThe full cycle crew having just reached Dunedin

As soon as we crossed the finish line in Dunedin the bottles of bubbly were passed around. I could barely put down my bike before I was handed a glass of champagne. The party had well and truly begun with everyone hugging and singing. The support crew had their car radio at full blast pumping out all the cheesy celebration numbers. Forgetting the time difference I rang a few numbers in my phonebook to share my illusion. Needless to say they all rang out… I might have been a little disheartened if I wasn’t on cloud nine.

DJ Gaillimh blasted out the tunes on our bus from the beach to our hotel. My voice was nearly gone by the time we arrived at our hotel after we roared out the likes of ‘Horse Outside’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. At the hotel we donned our glad-rags and dancing shoes before being greeted by none other than Declan Kidney. He had taken time out of his hectic schedule the day before an international to congratulate us on our efforts and genuinely seemed impressed. I wished him best of luck against the Italians!

Declan Kidney Greeting the IRFU Charitable Trust Cyclists in DunedinDeclan Kidney greeting the IRFU Charitable Trust Cyclists in Dunedin before our celebration dinner with the president of the IRFU, John Hussey

We had a congratulatory dinner on the harbour with the player’s parents and other travelling dignitaries hosted by John Hussy, the president of the IRFU. Everyone was given a chance to take the stage and sing as the wine flowed. It was a late night! The celebrations continued into the next day.

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