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A man on a mission for Edgar’s Mission - Tai's story

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By veloneil - Posted on 15 August 2014

Saturday the 9th of August. That would be the day. The day I choose to ride 8848m in elevation to help raise money for Edgar’s Mission.

Edgar’s Mission is a not for profit farm sanctuary that has a very warm place in my heart. Although based in the foot hills of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria, the loving and kind work of Pam Ahern (founder of Edgar’s Mission) has reached the hearts of many people all over the nation. Her dedication, her passion and her love for these animals is simply inspiring.

Driven by this, I chose the toughest climb I know in Sydney to Everest. Rosemead Rd, Hornsby (Strava segment: This is a climb that ramps up to over 20% on many occasions. Its descent is technical and fast with off camber corners. Leave your carbon clinchers at home. 76 repeats will give me my 8848m. 76 long and gruelling ascents, followed by 76 hair raising descents. 76 repeats to try and raise $5,000 for Edgar’s Mission.

I am always a nervous wreck when it comes to anything cycling. Whether it is racing at Beauie World’s or a Grand Fondo with mates, the excitement and anxiety always gets the better of me. Everesting was no different. With only 4 hours sleep, I set out on the challenge at 4am on what seemed like sub zero temperatures. It was in fact 5 degrees according to the Garmin. Nonetheless it was not a balmy 20 degrees. Everything was going fine for the first hour or so.

Then the sun started to rise and with it brought a further drop in temperature. The temperature wasn’t the only thing that dropped. So did my mind. For the first time ever, I had never felt so defeated so early on in a ride. It was a combination of the lack of sleep, the cold, the darkness, the fog and did I mention the cold? I was in a very dark lonely place and the light at the end of the tunnel was ever so lightly flickering away. I knew that if I could hold it together for another hour, the cavalry would be here. And almost on queue as I rolled out for another climb at 6:18am, the NSCC cavalry El Pres Bunch had arrived! The king had sent his men and one by one I watched them ride past me with words of encouragement. This moment was my saving grace. A moment I will never forget. Thank you Northern Sydney Cycling Club for saving my day!

From here on in things turned around. A quick change out of my wet cold kit and a warm feed refuelled me and I was ready to go again. The next 3-4 hours went by really fast and I don’t really recall much of it. Before I knew it I was halfway. 7 hours 11mins, 4439m.

By afternoon, a crowd of friends, family and supporters had gathered at the bottom of the climb. The kindness and the generosity of these people is what kept me going. I had made a promise and I had to keep it, I had 5,000 good reason to get there. Hour by hour, metre by metre, I continued to ride up this climb. It’s funny, how although you had ridden up a climb over 100 times before, you always find something new. It was probably due to the fact that I was going so slow, but I noticed this very odd looking rock that I had never ever seen before. I even question myself to see if I was going insane. Nope, it was there again on the next repeat 

By 4pm, somewhat 12hours later, things started to get really tough. The mind was playing games with me, the legs were begging for mercy and I could slowly see darkness creeping in. 12hours 29minutes, 6863m. I knew the next 2000m would be the toughest 2000m I have ever climbed in my life. “More food, more hydration, stay focused” was all I kept telling myself. Having my mates around me lifted my spirits. Some of them came out to ride with me on numerous occasions, I would have been happy if they did one. A very special mention must go out here for Steve Hume. I lost count the amount of laps he had lead me out on. A true gentleman.

As the sun disappeared, so did my some of my supporters. 13hours 57mins, 7589m. I have been in the hurt locker before, many times over. For the next two hours, I was in a very special hurt locker. Inside this hurt locker is what I imagined being tortured would feel like. Every climb was just enough to inflict enough pain to hurt me but not enough to kill me. It felt so close, yet it was so far away.
14hours 56mins, 8074m. I kept telling myself I was on the home stretch and my mates kept telling me it was in the bag. I wanted so bad to believe it, I wanted so bad for this to end so I could go have my warm shower and hot meal and go to sleep.

By this stage, my legs were no longer talking to me and my mind was fading. I recall dismounting my bike and just laying on the tarmac at the bottom of the hill. I also recall one of my mates chalking an outline of my body on the ground. This made me smile and this smile got me back on the bike. I was now down to single digits. Only 8 more climbs to go.

The next few laps were just a misery. Nothing happy or nice to report here  I was done to one riding buddy, the man who was responsible for this madness, Andrew Pade. I owe a lot to Andrew, not only is he the best lead out man anyone could have, he was the best pace maker for my final 3 repeats. The two of us zig-zagged our way up Rosemead, I kept telling him how stupid this was and we both needed serious medical attention. He kept telling me that Rosemead Rd was just rolling hills. He kept me sane.
16hours 27mins 56seconds, 8850m. I had done it! 76 repeats of the worst possible hill on this side of the bridge. 76 agonising climbs!

It was finally over. I did however talked myself into doing another one, just in case the Garmin was wrong. 77 repeats of Rosemead Rd. Everesting Hall of Fame, here I come!

Thank you to each and every person who came along with me on this ride. It is a ride I will never forget. Thank you for so kindly donating to Edgar’s Mission. Thank you for helping reach and exceed my goal of $5,000. To this very moment, I am still in awe of the whole journey. You have all made a difference in my life, but more importantly, you have made a difference for the animals.

Anyone up for some hill repeats?

Tai Huynh

Photo 1 - Rosemead Road
Photo 2 - The red and black army clearing the way through the thick fog
Photo 3 - My own TBSM Cheer Squad
Photo 4 - In the hurt box
Photo 5 - Where the hell is he

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