Sunday, February 18, 2018

The big day fast approaches.

On Tuesday 6th of March this year 2018 my sister Judy will accompany me as we fly to Auckland where I will be admitted to a ward at Auckland City Hospital. That afternoon we will meet with the surgical team to talk over the procedure for surgery being performed on me the next day.

After much thought almost 4 years ago when the opportunity was offered to me to have another hearing implant, in spite of the potential risks I decided to go ahead with it. The hearing implant is called an ABI - standing for Audio Bypass Implant.

The Cochlea implant I currently have on my right ear is connected to my audio nerve, the Audio bypass implant will bypass the audio nerve and go directly into my brain stem.
This is the first time this implant is being used on a deaf blind person but there are real possibilities for improved hearing from what I currently have through my CI.

One of the surgeons who will be part of the surgical team has been brought across from Germany as he is a specialist in this area.

I am preparing to have an MRI scan this coming week in readiness for the upcoming surgery, as I have a CI a great deal of care is need and my head will need to be strapped in a special way to prevent pressure on the implant magnet inside my head once I am placed into the MRI scanner. If I have any pain I will need to press the buzzer to alert the technicians to stop the scan as damage could occur to my current CI implanted magnet.

Once surgery is completed on the Wednesday, I will spend a day or two in the high dependency ward before being moved to a general ward for up to another five days depending on how quickly I recover.

I will return again to Auckland City Hospital in April to have the implant switched  on then the mapping journey begins. Mapping requires being connected to a laptop with an Audiologist working through the range of channels and high and low pitches to create a map. In the early days maps are done every few weeks as big changes occur in the early stages and then the mapping gets further apart. Mapping will take place in the Wellington clinic.

I will have my iPhone and Smart Beetle with me while in Auckland so I can send and receive txt and email messages plus post an up date depending on how I am feeling.
Thank you to those that have passed on kind thoughts for this next challenge and for lifting my case heavenward that the Master  will give great skill to the surgical team.

Details from Dr Michele Neeff  re surgery:

It will be a shared procedure between neuro-otologists  (myself) and neurosurgeons  including Prof Behr.  you will have an incision behind the ear and a small plate of bone would have to be removed to gain access to the lower part of the brain, the cerebellum and brainstem. There is a small opening within the brainstem close to the hearing nerve which allows an implant electrode to be placed. By going through this opening we gain close access to an important relay station of the hearing pathway, the cochlear nucleus.  the accurate position of the electrode will be tested intraoperatively and our audiologists will guide us to the final position by performing hearing measurements. once we are happy the outside part of the implant will be screwed into position, similar to the cochlear implant  you have got.  The incision will be sutured and a bandage applied. You will be transferred to the high dependency unit on the neurosurgical ward for recovery.  You should be able to return to the normal ward within one or two days. Your final day of discharge will depend on the speed of your recovery.

We will use the processor for the first time after about one month when the switch on will be performed at Auckland Hospital. You will then learn to hear with the brainstem implant.

I have not reviewed your latest scans but anticipate that your current implant will stay and we will take the other side for the brainstem implant.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The adventure, the challenge, the dream - Part 3

"When one door of happiness closes another door of happiness opens but  we so often are so busy looking at the door which has closed we can miss the door that has opened." -Helen Keller 
With my days being consumed with what had been taken and what I had left, there was a record playing on the gramophone of my mind but the record has been badly scratched and it kept repeating: I want my life back again, if only.

It consumed my energy  and I retraced my foot prints in the build-up to the day the lights went out over and over. Look at yourself Phil, you’re a freak now. There used to be adventures, there used to be fulfilling challenges and there used to be dreams.

Now the challenge is to make it through a day without spiraling out of control and losing the plot big time. The pain of the emotional and mental toll, let alone the physical, and  'where was God in it all' were almost overwhelming at times, I grabbed at anything to shut the record player down but it was only a form of escapism  and reality returned within no time at all.
The choice was mine, to accept what life had dished out to me and believe I had a bright and prosperous future ahead with the Master as my guide or to remain in a land of turmoil, sadness, lost hope and merely living out an existence. 
I was allowing myself to be robbed by what I was feeding my mind on. I could change who I was by changing what I feed my mind on. There is a verse in scripture which says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Those are very true and powerful words if we discover the truth of them. 
I needed to act, words have the power of life or death and 'those that find it will eat it’s fruit' scripture says, so I had been allowing negative words to be filling my days. I must change that record and create good habits whereby I sowed good words daily into my soul, I choose some inspirational daily meditations plus portions of scripture. So I activated my faith and in doing so the levels of hope slowly started to rise. I had to add another ingredient as time went on and that was believe what I was sowing into my soul. 
Beginning the process of transforming one’s mind is not easy I tell you but man it is dynamic when the process is in full swing. It is said it takes 30 days to create a habit, habits have transforming powers and  I discovered where true life and happiness stems from, refueling on a daily basis. 
As I stepped through the new door opened to me of happiness with my life in ashes behind me, I read these words on the inside of the door, “The blind He leads by ways they have not known and along unfamiliar paths He will guide them, the dark places He will make plain and the rough places He will make smooth, these things He will do, He will not forsake them." Isaiah 
The adventure of a new chapter in my life is now being written, the challenge is embraced as I have the Master as my guide and the dreams they have son barriers because if you can dream it you can achieve it.

Kind regards,
Phil Thorn

Please take a look at my givealittle page and please help me on my quest for essential braille communication technology:
"To achieve great things, you not only need to act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe"  
"One should never creep, when one is compelled to soar"

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The adventure, the challenge, the dream - Part 2

The adventure, the challenge, the dream.  Part 2

Having lingered for  a considerable amount of time sitting amongst the ashes of my life, embracing a new life of opportunities and happiness through a door marked 'hope' was a challenge. The door of hope to my brighter tomorrow would require a transformation of my mind set, take me out of my comfort zone as much as I was in pain and turmoil. I desired a miraculous change of my fortunes not a journey that would require amazing grace and a guiding hand along unfamiliar pathways.

The cry of my heart for some time was: "I want! . . my life back!"  How could I be offered life and life in abundance sitting surrounded by the ashes of my life through a door marked hope, look at who I am now!

Well the day came,  I got sick and tired of living in the ashes as ashes are messy things to live in leaving constant reminders on every part of one’s day. But how to get from the ashes through the door of hope to see dreams awakened and fresh challenges of discovery and adventure could be embraced.

The transformation of my ashes mind set started as I discovered the keys that would unclasp and set me free.

One of the keys is, life and death are in the tongue and those that find it will eat it’s fruit. Words encourage and cause us to rise but they can also pull us down and cripple us.

The key with words is found in creating good habits sowing life giving words to your soul. 

Ever noticed how a tragic news article leaves you and lingers in your mind for some time versus an inspirational story, one leaves you feeling sad and drained whereas the other leaves you feeling happy and uplifted.

Placed in my hand was a key, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want, He makes me to lie down in green pasture, He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul.

How can this be, my life is in ashes! He is the giver of life and the Shepherd knows where the best water and pasture is for restoring our soul if we will trust and follow Him. The conclusion of that chapter in Psalms says, Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

I discovered the key to the Shepherd restoring my soul as I made the choice to believe His Word and meditate on it daily and when the old scratched record of bad news starts pounding its rhythm on the record player of the mind, flick the switch and  make the choice to listen and believe the good news record of the Composer and Conductor of the Universe.

Kind regards,
Phil Thorn

Please take a look at my givealittle page and please help me on my quest for essential braille communication technology:
Also check out the ‘Ultimate Challenge’ which is in  May 2017, we need your help to make it happen!!
"To achieve great things, you not only need to act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe"  
"One should never creep, when one is compelled to soar"

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The adventure, the challenge, the dream

The adventure, the challenge, the dream.

This is the start of a series as I give you an introduction to the journey of a new door opening.

I have been asked: "What is it with the adventures, the challenges and the dreams!?"

"Don’t you have enough going on in your life with the journey since you were struck down with Meningitis leaving you with challenging disabilities?" has been said.

Sure there was a stage in my journey where it was so challenging even to get out of bed and to struggle my way through another day. I discovered a word called HOPE and I started to believe in that word but as time went on I discovered that one must act as well as believe. My hope at one stage was anchored in the life here after and my hope for here and now was merely a case of living out an existence.

I would allow myself to dream through the challenging phases of my journey as I used it as a mechanism to escape reality but  to dream and act upon the dream requires a complete change of perspective.

I was created for a reason, mankind was the pinnacle of creation by the Master Creator and placed in His garden planet earth. What was mankind created for, to glorify the Master Creator and to enjoy Him forever.

My choosing to merely live out an existence in spite of the challenging journey that I am on is not the reason I was created, how does one glorify the Master when life has left them with nothing but a pile of ashes, to make the choice to give thanks at in spite of everything and while sitting in a pile of ashes to know that the Master Creator is in control and He promises a brighter tomorrow and a life full of abundance.

My problem was, I kept looking back at the pile of ashes as one door of happiness had  closed and my hope for the future was anchored in the life to come but there was another door open titled 'hope' where new adventures were, new challenges and dreams to be awakened but I had to make a choice, act on the open door, get up from my pile of ashes, refuse to linger there any longer and turn and step into the brighter tomorrow

For me to share about the adventures, the challenges, the dreams and what’s it all about, I have to start at the beginning and I will take you on a journey as I progress this series as it has taken some time for this lad to step into his brighter tomorrow and I still have phases where I struggle and I feel alone, weak and vulnerable but I am learning more and more to make the choice to know and trust the Master Creator is in control.

Kind regards,
Phil Thorn

Please take a look at my givealittle page and please help me on my quest for essential braille communication technology:
Also check out the ‘Ultimate Challenge’ which is in  May 2017, we need your help to make it happen!!
"To achieve great things, you not only need to act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe"  
"One should never creep, when one is compelled to soar"

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A moment to savour the long winding road down memory lane.

A moment to savour the long winding road down memory lane.

It’s a strange thing to finish and be successful at completing such an epic challenge as a team but the essence of crossing that finish line is captivated by the eye and ear. I knew what we had achieved together as it required months of training, dieting and preparing mentally then the reality when the rubber hit the road. I had prepared myself in the event I might be pulled off the bike at some point as to how I would address that in my words at the finish line plus if we were successful in achieving the full distance.

When it came time for speaking, following speeches of congratulations from Karen Wilton CEO of Laura Fergusson Wellington and  Nicky Wagnor Minister for disability Prickly Behind's turn came.
So many emotions, I wanted to capture the moment on another level hearing the cheering and seeing the expressions as  words started tumbling out as I expressed my gratitude to all present for the outstanding occasion and especially to the team who both acted and dreamed, planned and believed to achieve this challenge. 

Climbing Porter's Pass was a real highlight with the team working in a relay lining up at the door of the bus eagerly waiting for their turn to run up and give Prickly behind a little more grunt knocking their chins on Prickly helmet as the road was so steep in sections and Prickly determining if I just keep turning that crank I hope I can inspire the team to not give up was an imagery I relayed to those at the finish line, that never give up spirit got us all to the top.

Cameras were a clicking from every angle capturing the moment as supporters moved closer to share a moment with Prickly members of the Blind Foundation plus Deaf Blind Association were present with some having seen Prickly in the early stages of his journey to where he sat today, now Prickly behind. A very apt name as so so many have lead the way helping to see Prickly navigate his way safely over some extremely challenging mountains and the Master Himself opened the eyes of Prickly understanding that with Him in control there are no barriers, no limits but only possibilities when faith is activated.

There were some special moments catching up with folks at New Brighten as I sat on the tandem, a message came that Molly the coach was around half an hour away the  cool sea breeze started to disperse the supporters, a coffee cart right now wouldn’t go amiss.

A little while later the tandem was maneuvered close to the door of the coach and Prickly Behind with the support of the team pulled himself up and then took each step with a team member lifting each leg to climb the three steps to his seat behind the driver’s seat. A tired team opted for good old Southern fish and chips all round as we settled into our accommodation. Introductions were made to our relief bus driver for the return trip the following day, Dave from Picton.

After a slightly later rise, and a very comfy bed for Prickly I must add, another hearty breakfast and it was hit the road time for what would be a long windy journey down memory lane. We would leave Christchurch heading through North Canterbury, then turning inland just north of Culverdan to head over the Lewis Pass passing Hamner Springs where the Molesworth adventure had ended in 2015. A stop at Springs junction for lunch in the sun with Dave our new bus driver telling story after story of the various surrounding countryside and small town we passed through. 

One story caught my interest about a town in North Canterbury called Pegassus. I knew this small town from a trip in the early 90.s when a tow truck recovered my ute from the inland road South of Kaikoura and the tow truck was based in Pegassus.

A man with a dream and a significant amount of money set up a model of what he has dreamed of turning this small country town into in the early 2000’s using an old disused building in Christchurch and employing around 700 Chinese at a cost of $7 Million to create a full sized model that folks could walk through and explore every nock and cranny. Some believed in him and his dream, his dream cost him all he had and a significant amount more. The dream never evolved in quite the way he had dreamed it and sadly he hit the wall financially before his dream of turning Pegassus into the ultimate small town boasting a population of 7,000. His health declined after his financial ruin and he passed away in his late 50's. The Todd Empire have taken over the project and the town continues to grow, but at a low pace, as good things do take time.

The highway North from Christchurch through to  Picton  is a busy one these days with the highway through Kaikoura  closed,. On the inland route through the Lewis Pass earth works are taking place at many points to widen and eliminate dangerous black spots and the need to upgrade a number of single lane bridges with such a heavy volume of traffic now using this highway and the highway through Kaikoura closed till at least Christmas. 

It was at one of these points I raised my hand to wipe the window as there was some condensation with no air conditioning, the team spotted me and laughed at Prickly clearing a spot on the window for a better view, well  the view was pretty amazing with my eyes wide shut.

After lunch team members took the opportunity to pop up and sit with Prickly to chat over their experiences of the challenge. I asked each of them what was the highlight for them. It was great to learn that for a good few of them they had never seen the parts of New Zealand we had traveled and ridden through. Not only were great memories of our  magnificent South Island fresh in their memory but the team spirit that had grown through the challenge and  we felt like a family it was said.

Kind regards,
Phil Thorn

Please take a look at my givealittle page and please help me on my quest for essential braille communication technology:
Also check out the ‘Ultimate Challenge’ which is in  May 2017, we need your help to make it happen!!
"To achieve great things, you not only need to act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe"  
"One should never creep, when one is compelled to soar"

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The ride across the plains, a flattie moment but a sweet sweet finish.

The ride across the plains, a flattie moment but a sweet sweet finish.

The final morning of the riding part of the challenge was a beauty in Springfield, a crisp Canterbury morning with the sun sending its warming rays through breaks  in the buildings.

It was a slower  start this day having put the challenging sections of the ride behind us and the YHA wasn’t in a hurry to awaken either it seemed Patience was needed as a key was hurried along to get eh campers kitchen filled with the aroma of a southern fry up.

Today would be a more healthy option for Prickly Behind, Rice Bubbles, fruit and yogurt followed by crumpets with Marmalade jam and a good cup of tea. With the YHA at Springfield having a Japanese theme through its camper kitchen and dining room, the team were  startled when one of the book shelves containing many books especially with a Japanese  flavour suddenly moved away from the wall on one end revealing a doorway and out pops an assistant manager.

We were joined this morning being Saturday 6th May by Robert who was the manager at Laura Fergusson in Christchurch, he would be our guide for the final section of the ride from Springfield to New Brighton Christchurch. From here Robert told us, it’s straight and flat across the Canterbury plains, that sounded good but with tired bodies after two day climbing over the Alp’s it still sounded like a cranker of a day’s work.

I was in approval of being transferred from my chair to the rear seat of the recumbent with the bike waiting in a patch of warmth from on high after navigating out way across a gravelly driveway still crisp with morning breeze in the shade.

As I prepared to set off as much as the arms felt the downward pull of gravity heavy from tired and tight muscles, I determined within myself that I would get that crank wound up for all it was worth, we had to be at New Brighton by four o’clock but the plan was to have a leisurely lunch stop if the going was good and allowance had been made for up to an hour should the final leg not go so well. I was determined to have as strong a finish as possible no matter what the body was feeling, if we can get the speed up early and to a manageable gear on the rear I could maintain it I felt till the finish line.
It wasn’t too long after saddling up, we were off, more cold patches and then out of Springfield to the open dairy farm plains, it took a few minutes for muscles to settle into a good rhythm while endeavouring to set an early pace. It was nice to have only a thermal and riding top on, long sleeves rolled up like action man but in my mind’s eye wishing I was Peter Pan. 

Those dairy farm odours were very invigorating as I thought of the early awakening for one on a farm compared to Prickly Behinds start for the day but then night can roll into day and day into night for one with blind sight.

We set an early pace, I was pleased as the pace saw me using the higher gears in the upper range with the recumbent bouncing along. My thoughts turned briefly to a new recumbent with a suspension as Prickly Behind is hardly young in age and this finer points are important as year rolls into year.

It was then my thoughts were jerked back to reality as the bike swerved to the left and then back to the right before straighten up, straight roads I said to myself, must be a curve to keep drivers alert as the pace increased again It wasn’t far from here the first pilot change for the day took place while several southern baked  cookies were shoved in my hand and off we went again. This time with one called Hayley as my pilot. She commented later that I was a human machine but there’s nothing bicentennial of a man about me just lots of deep down determination to never give up.

Several times along those straights we hit 65 kilometres per hour I learned later but I felt we were still not going fast enough, speed can be deceptive in the rear seat with blind sight.

Not long after a good burst with Hayley as pilot, we stopped briefly to greet Trevor from Laura Fergusson in Christchurch as a backup for Robert in case he lost his way and then a surprise, Karen from Laura Fergusson taps on my shoulder and alongside me is my Dad. That was a moment to treasure for the memory chest.

A little further along and a spot in the sun for a well-deserved lunch break and to learn we only had thirty kilometres to go, man we had made great progress, must have been the invigorating odours in the air.

A fine fair was had for lunch that day, filled wraps with more homemade baking and cups of tea, the sun was so warming there was concern for Prickly Behinds receding hair line with helmet off lest it end up with an ouch spot and a peeling to follow.

After fueling up, it was time to hit the road Jack and don’t you go back no more no more. Well we hit the road Jack, stricken another patch of roadworks about 10 kilometres down the road, the newly designed recumbent with suspension entered the mind again as we bounced our way through and then onto flat stuff again but the song did not come true about going back no more no more. My pilot being my brother Clem at this pint received the message via walkie talkie, that a gremlin had struck Molly our coach.

We have to go back the message came through on my hand, go back, oh no oh no. What would come of this, we were on time with 10 kilometres to cover till the finish line but through a busy Christchurch on a Saturday afternoon with an hour till four o’clock.

Back we went after some careful manoeuvring to a spot about half a kilometre back along the straight to learn that Molly the coach had had a sudden  leak and a flattie moment. The reality of the situation was added to as Molly had a spare tyre but it was a trailer tyre and not for the coach

Frantic calls were made to get Karen back from the finish line where she was setting up the finish line tape to ferry those on the coach to the finish line. All support riders with bikes were now riding with Prickly Behind as we set off again leaving the coach and driver to an element of uncertainty trying to get a fleet service out to repair the flattie.

We were a rocking and a rolling as we stopped and started our way across the city and it wasn’t to the local classic hits radio station. A city struck by earthquakes has left the roads feeling like a roller coaster on a recumbent, then the familiar smell of city life as we past a KFC and a punnet of chicken flavoured chips would have hit the spot but the mission was almost complete, would we make it on time with an unexpected flattie moment!

We came to a stop not far down the road as I said to myself, where has that lovely warmth gone too. Stopping and starting across town, the body wasn’t as warm burning less energy and then the message came, We are about 2 kilometres from the finish line. Oh my goodness I said, we have almost made it and with about ten minutes to go before the clock struck four o’clock. Lots of positive thoughts from here on and we will make it safely, sure, sure , sure, just give it one more blast, I had a plan for a sign to raise my arms in a successful accomplishment right on hitting the line but my senses and body were a little tired and behind the eight ball and the arms were raised as the tape hit my chest and the Tinnitus sounded like cheering of well-wishers and supporters at the New Brighton finish line.

It was a moment to cherish for a long long time, we has accomplished a challenging ride of just over 250 kilometres from coast to coast crossing two alpine passes, one being the third highest pass in New Zealand and we had done it as a team. The warm glow of satisfaction filled the heart and the dial said it all. Team members were thrilled as hand shales tool place, hugs and pats on the back, time to pop a champagne bottle thrust in my hand and then to be congratulated by the Minister for disability, Nicky Wagnor, followed by speeches.

I will cover more of the finish line in my next post plus the final day returning home again after such an epic adventure.

If your enjoying reading this, please leave a small comment as it is a great encouragement and please share my Blog Spot with others.

Apologies for those who have had issues getting from my Facebook to my Blog Spot by clicking on the link I provide. I am endeavouring to post snippets on Facebook and the main post on my Blog Spot as I believe my Blog Spot is the best medium for posting lengthy posts and not Facebook but this is a new challenge for me as I am doing this on my own preparing and posting so I have made several errors at times, thanks for being understanding and patient with me. Please stay connected as I will be writing regularly to my Blog Spot even after completing the challenge series.

Kind regards,
Phil Thorn

Please take a look at my givealittle page and please help me on my quest for essential braille communication technology:
Also check out the ‘Ultimate Challenge’ which is in  May 2017, we need your help to make it happen!!

"To achieve great things, you not only need to act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe"  
"One should never creep, when one is compelled to soar"

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A chilly awakening followed by an over the top delight.

A chilly awakening followed by an over the top delight.

It was Friday morning the 5th of May. I awoke early after a pleasant night’s sleep with the wood fire keeping the unit I shared with my brother cosy warm.

We had staying the night in Arthur’s Pass village and on exiting my unit after a great cooked Southern breakie I would receive a chilly awakening. Oh yes oh yes, we were in the chiller room of the South Island up amongst the Alp’s Keep moving to keep yourself warm my mind was saying while stuck in w wheelchair with blind sight. A recipe for disaster I must say and to add to that our motel was up a rise on School Road Who knows why it was called school road as there is no school there, maybe a dream that never transpired.

Anyone would think I was planning on a day at a ski field the way I was dressed, poor interpreters signing through padded snow gloves, harden up you might say.

Well I had to very soon donning my riding gloves, scarf around my neck, couple of stones for eyes and a carrot for the nose, the snowman was about to be set on the loose

Molly the coach was warmed up, I  detected the diesel fumes in the pristine Alpine air, support riders were ready and Mary Fisher and her dad were buzzing about another days ride through the Alp’s accompanying Prickly behind the whole way on their tandem.

The exhilaration of riding at altitude on a chilly morning, the speed of the bike intensifying  the chill factor even more, the fingers, where were they, still attached but numb with the cold. There was only four layers on the upper body with three on the legs and still the chill could be felt.

It was a beautiful day they told me, who’s leg are you pulling I muttered but quietly prayed it would be.  That  warmth I felt on my left  cheek as we hit a downhill section, then it was gone. Must have been my imagination as the chill kept me pumping that crank for all it was worth to get the blood a pumping. The warmth was on my cheek again and then gone as quickly as it came.

It was time to stop as the stop go man had his sign out I learnt later, major road work were taking place I took the opportunity to lose the scarf and commented on the beautiful day to my pilot Jon, the sun had greeted us but   we would ride in and out of patches of sun under the shade of the towering mountains as we rode through Temple basin.

A short time later we were on the move again  with the feel of gravel under the tyres but not for long, we came to a sudden stop. What  was up! I learnt later that the road worker with the stop go sign had screamed out, “Stop stop” my pilot thinking he was speaking to us, as did the coach driver of Molly following behind us and concerned support riders wondering what was up.

When the stop go sign had spun around to go for traffic on our end of the road works and we had started to cycle our way through the road works, a car about twelve back in the line of cars waiting for the sign to turn to go in our direction decided it would be a great opportunity to do a takeover manoeuvre with the intention of passing as many cars as possible, he was flying towards a road worker holding a stop go sign and road works behind  him. The driver was stopped in time, sadly a foreigner and the road worker commented to our coach driver he had almost been taken out in a similar incident the previous day. It is important you know to be a great rush to get from point a to b while  driving through the Southern Alp’s and all its magnificent beauty.

Onwards we rode with plenty of downhill sections as I said to myself, the lower we descend the higher we have to climb near days end and then another uphill section came along. Somewhere along this section of highway I lost an important part of my riding kit, the end of my drinking tube which I squeezred   with my kips to suck from the camelback. No point in wasting time to try and find it, a needle in a haystack kind of venture.

A reserve by lake Pearson was our lunch spot, I know this area and had a good memory within my mind’s eye as we parked up in the sun, the sun was warm but the chiller door was wide open. White stuff iced the towering mountains on either side as the picnic tables were dressed with red and white table clothes and a fine fair of Southern hospitality was served up Gilled door wedge rolls were served with homemade baking to accompany them and a cup of tea or two to wet the whistle.

The reflections on the lake were something to behold I was told that day, God’s own is what we call this land.

We had made good progress in the morning session of the ride achieving  just over 50 kilometres, nigh on halfway but the challenge lay ahead I did to myself. How  Far to Porter’s pass, around 14 kilometres came the message signed back to me. Oh man, I had survived the first day on the West Coast through all the icy rain and being soaked through without being pulled off the bike. Now we had a beautiful day, spirits were in good shape, energy was sitting at a good level but I knew it would take all I had and more to summit that pass. I determined, if I just keep that crank a turning even in the lowest gear that I had, maybe I could inspire the team not to give up and pull me off but to give it our best shot.

I tried to calculate the distance  in my head knocking off each kilometre as we set off from lake Pearson reserve, I thought we were close then another downhill section, we must be there now and another short downhill, then I said to myself we must be on the long drag now that leads to the pass, we had been on this uphill section for some time now. It was time for a quick stop, pilot change time and time for Prickly behind to strip the riding jacket , oh yes the big one was here. Would the tandem make it, I dug deep to find the good stuff the good stuff called potential and my team inspired me to do that, as I cranked up that steep steep drag that never seemed to end, the team were lining up eagerly at the door of the bus for their turn to run up and give the back rest of my seat a good bit of grunt as Prickly behind quickly navigated his gears to adjust to the sudden increase in speed, it became a skill I had to master quickly to maximise every effort being put in and to show I was giving it my best shot hoping to inspire them onwards and upwards. It was so steep in sections that team members would knock their chins on my helmet and I learnt later that Mary and her dad had walked several sections. On and on it went, climbing climbing, the warmth on my cheeks was dropping lower and lower, it must be close on five o’clock I said to myself, can we make it, the roof was dripping and not from the heavens above, the tube was being sucked on to keep the energy levels as high as possible, there were mutters of thanks from Prickly behind for each extra bit of grunt applied from team members as he daren’t let go of the tube held between his teeth.

Then all of a sudden, I felt slaps on my back and I said to myself, oh man I’m being pulled off the bike, we didn’t make it I gave it my best, the team gave it their best, that is going to be a tough ride down the other side after reaching the top in the coach having not achieved it.

The message came to me, we are at the top, you’re kidding me I said as a huge smile hit the dial and oh what satisfaction that was, the weak had been outstanding. I would have never made it without them and I am not planning on attempting it in the near future on my own as amazing as GP systems are these days.

There’s a very cool photo of us at the top of Porters Pass with Molly the coach in the background, the pass is 939 metres high. Well you done ride all the way to the top to not go down the other side, so it was time to done the riding jacket as hot as I was at that point and man oh man I sure needed it on the way down. With the sun sinking behind the horizon for another days end it was chilly with an exclamation mark times ten and the downhill went on and on so much so at one point Prickly behind got confused thinking we  were still on a downhill and we had hit the flat. My spirits were soaring as much as my body was tired and sore, we kept going and I knew darkness must have overtaken us which it had but we were right on the outskirts of Springfield and we rode right through the small town to our accommodation at the YHA hostel. We had achieved the goal of cycling the 83 kilometres from Arthur’s pass to Springfield over Porter’s pass. Porter’s pass is New Zealand’s third highest pass after Milford and Lindis.

We had done it as a team, why Together Everyone Achieves More. Thank you Prickly adventurers for inspiring and believing in me.

Kind regards,
Phil Thorn

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