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