So, time for an update. I wanted to talk about the Gibb River Challenge.
2 weeks ago, The Tight Posse, my team, cycled the Gibb River Road. 700km from Derby to Kununurra to raise funds for an awesome charity, The Kyle Andrews Foundation. It was my third Gibb Challenge and easily the best. The whole event carried so much significance this time. It was like a bucket list item for me. I was so determined to finish it this time, to prove to myself, my body, that I still could. I aimed to ride as much as my team mates. And I did. In fact, I started off 3 of the 5 days and triumphantly rode through the finish line 3 of the 5 days.
Day one was special. About 150 riders leave together in a big pack. When Simon, the organiser, started the event with the horn and everyone rode off together, I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was overwhelmed. Partly, I think because I made here. Because no relapse prevented me from participating, and partly because it might be my last Gibb Challenge. While I am trying to stay positive, realistically, no one knows what the next 12 months will bring.
So, it was amazing. The Tight Posse discussed the possibilities for next year and as it turns out, I will be doing it again. Even if it means they tow me along behind their bikes. While this started out as a joke, I think my team will make it happen. That’s just how tight we are 🙂
The riding during the day was great! It was alot easier than I expected! There were a few moments when getting off the bike that my legs would give way, and my hand would go completely numb, but mostly it was great! I rode as much as everyone else and no one made a big deal of or emphasized my uncooperative body.
The night times were different. While the team was out partying, my body made a way of telling me that I wouldn’t be! I was in bed early, or I was up vomiting. It was a cruel reminder that despite my tenacity and almost denial of symptoms, that I am not invincible and I am battling a cruel illness. It was also a reminder of how lucky I really am. Amongst the NMO community, very few can even walk, let alone cycle for 5 gruelling days! A few early nights and some vomiting is a pretty good compromise really! 18 months ago I had a brain stem haemorrhage which statistically kill 80% of untreated people. I am lucky enough to be in the 20% and I am lucky enough to be cycling the Gibb River Challenge!
Anyway, the ride concluded at the beautiful El Questro Station, where we relaxed and unwound. Another Gibb mastered. Massive thanks to all our supporters! Over half a mill was raised in total in a MASSIVE effort from you guys! And that’s what it’s all about really. Also, thanks to our sponsors, Aussie Wipes and the Freo Dockers!
Until next year… 🙂