His surname is Payne and he inflicted plenty of it upon himself in last Saturday’s Forrest Graperide. JJ Payne achieved an amazing feat because not only is riding any sort of pushbike 505kms in one hit a huge accomplishment, but try doing it with just one gear on an old 1963 bike.
That’s exactly what the RNZAF aircraft technician did in completing the five-lap ultimate section, kicking off the epic at 2pm on Friday, starting the final lap at 10am Saturday and eventually unravelling his tired, exhausted body off the bike at 1.30pm.
He admits some people probably think he is mad, but he has a background in endurance competition and is well used to riding a one-speed bike.
Born in England, John James Payne, or JJ as everyone knows him, served in the RAF for 24 years. He came out to New Zealand in 2007 looking for a change of lifestyle.
He began working at Woodbourne in 2008 and only began racing when he came to Blenheim, and admits he’s not the quickest. ‘‘I don’t win many races but I like to think I keep the others honest.’’
JJ inherited his late father’s bike, an old Viking built at Wolverhampton, which he brought out to New Zealand, and he commutes to work on it from Blenheim most days.
In February he had the ideal build-up for the Graperide, setting a target of completing 2000kms in a month as part of Bike-wise challenge.
He rode 80km each day by extending his to and from work journey and ended up cycling 2066kms in total, using a conventionally geared bike.
JJ had previously run half marathons and while serving in the RAF was part of a fundraising team which ran the equivalent of a marathon each day, checking into all the English Premier League football grounds, starting at Newcastle and finishing at Liverpool’s home ground of Anfield.
As for the Graperide, JJ had some idea of what he was in for having previously ridden the 101km standard course and twolap Magnum category previously on his own 1963 Carlton single speed flyer. ‘‘I set myself the challenge of doing the ultimate five-lap. To do all the three main events on a single speed.’’
The early laps went all right on Friday afternoon and into the evening and throughout the night he battled on with his support crew, girlfriend Claire, waiting at regular points to keep him fed and watered, but things almost turned to custard.
‘‘At the start of the fourth lap I was pretty much in pieces. I had a 20 minute sleep at the lookout to Picton Harbour. It seemed to do the trick. Then once you start last lap you have to finish.’’
There’s absolutely no respite riding a one-speed bike because the pedals are fixed, so they still revolve if you try to glide.
‘‘You have to keep pedalling. I just kept going at a nice steady pace. Just a case of ticking off the kms. It’s surprisingly easy to ride and being one gear, not much can go wrong with it. You’ve got to stand up on the hills and use the momentum a lot more than a bike with gears. What the human body can do is phenomenal.’’
He was feeling remarkably good at the finish as the euphoria of the achievement kicked in and he enjoyed a cold beer. However, JJ wasn’t sure about his next challenge.
‘‘I’m trying to recover. I’m thinking about it. Too early to say.’’
Intrepid cyclist JJ Payne, pictured at Woodbourne, reflects on a magnificent effort in last Saturday’s Graperide.