Mince pie hum­bles Kiwi desert biker

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS - MAR­JORIE COOK

When Wanaka ‘‘fat bike’’ cy­clist Tony Cul­shaw crossed the fin­ish line of his 600km odyssey across Aus­tralia’s Simp­son Desert, there to greet him was sup­porter Lyn­ton Stret­ton – and a mince pie.

Cul­shaw, who trained on a diet of ba­con and eggs, was over­whelmed.

‘‘When I biked over the line at Birdsville, he said to me, do you want a pie? I said ‘Yeah’. I bit into this pie and all the flavours! I had a bit of an emo­tional re­sponse. I was welling up. I didn’t think I would feel such a pow­er­ful emo­tional re­sponse to hav­ing a mince pie.’’

Cul­shaw raised $2500 for the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice dur­ing Septem­ber’s Simp­son Desert Chal­lenge, which was won by Justin Mor­ris. For the first time in race his­tory, it was com­pleted by all en­trants.

It was Cul­shaw’s first at­tempt at desert rid­ing, and over six months he dropped from 106kg to 91kg through a strict train­ing and di­etary regime.

Mem­bers of his daily cof­fee group said Cul­shaw talked about noth­ing else but the desert for those six months.

‘‘Now it feels like it’s been six months since he has been back.

‘‘And there’s been a run on pies in Wanaka,’’ friend Gary Tweedie said when the talk­a­tive Cul­shaw reap­peared at their reg­u­lar ta­ble at Fed­eral Diner just over a week ago.

One of Cul­shaw’s

big­gest re­grets since the race ended on Septem­ber 30 is that he has put on some weight.

‘‘I am still on my diet but I ate a lot of pies at Birdsville. The thing is, you are con­sum­ing 8000 calo­ries a day that you need for a desert bike ride. So when I fin­ished, my brain was say­ing ‘8000 calo­ries, 8000 calo­ries’.

‘‘I have had a lot of trou­ble with­draw­ing and I have put on 5kg. I am still try­ing to fig­ure out what’s go­ing on up here,’’ he said, tap­ping his head.

Cul­shaw said cooler than ex­pected tem­per­a­tures - around 35 de­grees Cel­sius in­stead of 45C - were prob­a­bly the main rea­son why all the com­peti­tors fin­ished the jour­ney from Purni Bore in South Aus­tralia to Birdsville, Queens­land.

Cul­shaw was as­tounded by the beauty of the desert flow­ers and the pres­ence of snakes but was dis­ap­pointed when he re­alised a faulty data card had de­stroyed his videos.

❚ Read more: stuff.co.nz

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