We were on our fifth day of cycling when I found myself in an Olympian sandwich. Facing a brutal headwind and running out of steam from my fading Haribo gummy bear supply, I was starting to seriously lag behind the girls. 10 metres turned to 30 metres which turned to 50 metres behind. 'What on earth have I signed up for, we're not even a week in' - many negative thoughts circulated in my head. They slowed down and waited while I thrashed on the pedals to catch up. 'SVB start riding in the middle of us, you’ll find it a lot easier.' ET called out. And so I did and so it was - managing to finish the final 10km of the day in - what I now call - the 'Olympian sandwich'.
Fast forward to day 17. We were cycling in pouring rain somewhere between Starigrad and Sibenik in Croatia. It was not possible to get any more drenched (stunning scenery though!). We pulled over for a quick pit stop and ET yells out 'There’s no such thing as bad weather' - 'just a bad attitude!' Becs finished. How could I even think of complaining about the rain after this?! Luckily for us the sun came out within the hour.
The above are small examples illustrating how wonderful my Olympian teammates are.
If you didn’t already know, I've been obsessed with the Olympics since the Sydney 2000 Opening Ceremony. Rob Waddell and Cathy Freeman's gold medals remain a vivid memory 18 years on, and before this adventure, I worked for the International Olympic Committee for four years. So it's fair to say that I will never pass up any opportunity to rub shoulders with Olympians. Especially 6 months on the road travelling the world by bike with these two kiwi Olympian legends.
I wanted to dedicate my first blog to Becs and ET and reflect on the kindness and patience these two have shown me over the past 23 days. Not always an easy task for them dealing with someone who is incredibly impractical. Thank you ladies.
Becs Wardell - she’s always packed and ready to roll out before I have brushed my teeth. She can put up her tent and get the water boiling on our camp stoves before I have put the tent poles together. This adventure was her brainchild, and she is one of the bravest people I know. She shows no fear on the roads when trucks hurtle past and she always has a smile on her face even after a big day of riding. Although I struggle to use Google maps (so I am obviously no help on the navigation front), she never seems to get annoyed when I constantly ask her which way we are going. Patience of a saint! She welcomed me with open arms on this trip and believes that I'll be able to make it all the way to China with her no problem. Let's see!
Emma Twigg - she’s been saving my bacon (and my legs) by sitting out front for hours on end in nasty headwinds and pouring rain. When I try and relieve her of this duty we go at a considerably slower pace, and she gets back on the front again. But ET is more than just physical strength. She’s incredibly practical (and kind) - and has spent a significant amount of time teaching me how to tie knots, put tension on a tent, grease my chain and rearrange my panniers for easy racking on my bike.
So here's to the best thing since sliced bread - ET and Becs - I couldn’t wish to be part of a better Olympian sandwich.