The Pioneer: It’s not about a bike race, it’s about the people

December 12,2019

After a long time of anticipation, our race in New Zealand has come to an end. In six days that flew by, Hap and I took our bikes into the mountains and weather of New Zealand. Every time you get on your bike, especially in a back-country bike race, you never quite know how it’ll end. And every time I go on an adventure with Hap Farber, I never quite know what we’ll find, but I do know it’ll be an experience. And this was no different.

Riding mountain bikes in New Zealand is nothing short of spectacular, no matter the weather. And this year’s course did not disappoint. This event was epic: the mountainous course, the harsh weather made it more challenging than even we had anticipated, but the rain makes you appreciate the sunshine, the climbs make you appreciate the descents, and the cold makes you appreciate the four minute warm shower in the shower truck.
But I think what I will take back with me about this trip, even more than the race itself, is the people.

Meeting racers from all over the world. We raced with really neat people from all over the world, and enjoyed conversations under the big tent by heating lamps, eating Francesca’s pizza. We all shared a love of mountain biking, and everyone brought with them a story for why they were there, whether racing for a charity, or in memory of a loved one, or for their own adventure of a lifetime, it was fun to get to know racers, swap stories, and regale the rides of the day.

Major kudos to The Pioneer race staff for keeping us safe. The race organizers, medics, and volunteers were some of the most incredible people you’d ever meet. From Danielle, the race director, who was absolutely unflappable despite what Mother Nature threw at her race, to Andrew, the race announcer, whose sincere encouragement of all racers of all levels kept us going, to the medics who looked after my teammate and his trail rash and broken ribs, and the marshals, aid station staffers, and all volunteers who exploded with positivity throughout the race, the Pioneer staff was truly amazing. They were the rainbows that came with the rain.

Racing with PH Patients – LetMeBeYourLungs. Of course, what made this very personal for us was racing with New Zealand pulmonary hypertension patients. On our way to Queenstown we stopped through Auckland and visited with Gary and Annie, Hamish and Owen. We video chatted with Judy and Michael Walton in Wellington. The next day after race check in in Queenstown we got on the video meeting to meet up with Katy, Bob and Joanne. And after the race traveled to Christchurch to have a reunion in person with Bob, Joanne, and Elwyn. We again met up with our friends during our layover in Auckland on the way back to the USA. And it was these interactions and these people who meant the most to us. During the race we raced everyday in honor of a Kiwi PH patient. And we felt them with us as we did our best to navigate the course and weather. Friendships and connections through these events is what Team PHenomenal Hope is all about.

Racing with you. Although we raced halfway around the world, we cannot tell you how much it meant to feel the support from people back at home. Thank you to our friends and colleagues for covering the home front and making it possible for us to travel to the other side of the world. Thank you to all our supporters. We appreciated your generosity in donating and kindness of spirit. Thank you to those who answered our call/text/email/message/post to donate and help us raise money to support Team PHenomenal Hope. Your contributions and kind words were literally hands on our back, pushing us up the hillside. You helped make this about more than a bike race, and helped us race to make a difference in the lives of PH patients. And for that we thank you.

As we return to the USA and continue to reflect on our race, we feel the soreness in our hands and swelling in our legs and feet. Hap will be healing his ribs for the next few weeks, no doubt. But feeling the aches and soreness right now just remind us of the epic experience we were fortunate to have, with you.

Our race in New Zealand is done, but we still have work to do there and back at home. We have some tasks to do and more connections to make once we get back to the USA. Although we’ll be thousands of miles away in physical distance, we treasure our friendships with our old and new friends and PHriends, and look forward to staying in touch. It’s a small world after all.

Learn more about Patty and Hap’s race or make a donation to their efforts here.

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