Mince pie humbles Kiwi desert biker
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.
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