Cousins take on Pioneer moun­tain­bike

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS - STAFF RE­PORTER

Cousins Paul Mil­lett and An­drew Gil­boy have taken mas­sive ge­o­graph­i­cal and health jour­neys to cy­cle the Pioneer to­gether this year.

Gil­boy, who lives in New­bury in Great Bri­tain, learned he had can­cer in 2012. It was a rare and ag­gres­sive form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lym­phoma and he was told he had, at most, three weeks to live.

Mil­lett, of Auck­land, re­calls it as a fright­en­ing time for the cousin who was his best man 25 years ago, and the wider fam­ily.

‘‘He had tu­mours through­out his chest, ab­domen, liver, spleen, shoul­ders and bone mar­row and the prog­no­sis was of a 20 per cent chance of sur­vival, with the me­dian time to death just five months, even with treat­ment.

‘‘Af­ter eight rounds over seven months of the most in­ten­sive chemo­ther­apy regime in the world, over a hun­dred nights in hos­pi­tal, three blood in­fu­sions, two op­er­a­tions without anaes­thetic and a stem cell bone mar­row trans­plant, An­drew fi­nally went home.’’

In late July 2013, blood test re­sults showed that his new bone mar­row was start­ing to func­tion fully and the last in­fec­tion was al­most gone.

Hav­ing de­fied the odds, Gil­boy de­cided he wanted to take part in the sec­ond Pioneer staged moun­tain­bik­ing race in the South­ern Alps from Fe­bru­ary 5 to 11.

Mil­lett is join­ing him de­spite a re­cent bro­ken wrist while train­ing.

‘‘We were out rid­ing to­gether the other day in one of our fi­nal long rides and I lost con­cen­tra­tion near the end, came off and suf­fered what I first thought was a bruise. It turns out I have a frac­ture but I will be fine, I am ap­proach­ing my taper any­way so will take it easy and wear a brace dur­ing the race.’’

The men will com­pete in the 7-Day EPIC race cov­er­ing 545km and climb­ing 15,824 me­tres be­tween Christchurch and Queen­stown.

Gil­boy and his wife Louisa ar­rived in New Zealand in time for New Year cel­e­bra­tions. While the boys will be rid­ing, Louisa will be tak­ing on one of her own chal­lenges as she com­pletes one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ be­fore meet­ing the two men at the fin­ish line.

Mil­lett said both of their fam­i­lies have been very sup­port­ive in the build-up to Fe­bru­ary’s race, but ad­mits they have also been ‘shak­ing their heads’.

SUP­PLIED

The name on the rid­ing gear says it all for cousins An­drew Gil­boy and Paul Mil­lett as they pre­pare for The Pioneer.

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