Sorely in need of comfort after epic ride

Members of the Phantom Riders (from left) support driver Rod Markham (Motueka), David Milne, Rob Cunningham, Neil O'Fee, Chris Latta, Richard Fogarty, Allan Sutherland, Brian Corson, Mark Dalzell, Geoff Anderson, Chris Yeats (Greymouth), Mike Doig and Graeme Buchanan (front) celebrate after cycling 2600km from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Photo supplied.
Members of the Phantom Riders (from left) support driver Rod Markham (Motueka), David Milne, Rob Cunningham, Neil O'Fee, Chris Latta, Richard Fogarty, Allan Sutherland, Brian Corson, Mark Dalzell, Geoff Anderson, Chris Yeats (Greymouth), Mike Doig and Graeme Buchanan (front) celebrate after cycling 2600km from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Photo supplied.

Eleven Dunedin men were enjoying the comfort of their office chairs yesterday after spending the past 17 days cycling the length of New Zealand.

The 2600km journey from Cape Reinga to Bluff had left them, and a 12th rider from Greymouth, with ''tender backsides'', group member and Mosgiel resident David Milne (56) said.

''There's been quite a lot of what we call butt butter used to ease the pain.

''Most of the guys have gone back to work today and I would say the office chair would be a lot more comfortable than sitting on the saddle.

''It surprised us that we got sore backsides because we ride all the time.

''We put in some high kilometres to train for the event and none of us suffered from the tender backsides, but definitely on tour they got sore because we were riding day in, day out.''

The group of 47- to 62-year-olds, known as the Phantom Riders, have ridden two South Island tours and a Southland tour, and decided to make the gruelling tour across the country in a bid to tick it off their personal bucket lists.

''The maturity of the group - that's where the bucket list becomes more important.

''We've all got friends and family who have been terminally ill. I've got a friend who is terminally ill, and I'm thinking I can't leave it too late.

''Who knows what's around the corner. This may be my last opportunity.

''None of us will probably do this again. Do it while you can.''

Mr Milne said the group got its name from its practice of riding on the Otago Peninsula early on Saturdays - something the group had done since the early 1990s.

''We're a group of guys that go out early and virtually vanish before anyone gets out of bed.''

Mr Milne said the tour was gruelling, particularly when they were hit by the ''once in 100-year'' storm which lashed Canterbury, and there were times when the group considered pulling the pin.

The wind and rain was so bad, their average speed dropped from 26kmh to 12kmh.

''It came in from all angles. Roofs were blown off, power was out, there was flooding, and I'm thinking, we're riding in this?

''One of our members said, 'This is nuts, what are we doing this for'.

''It had frightened him and that was fair enough, because it wasn't to be made light of. It was a very scary, frightening period of time.''

But the group continued, with the help of support driver Rod Markham, of Motueka, and were buoyed by the philosophy ''tomorrow is another day''.

Mr Milne said the highlight of the trip could have been any number of the picturesque landscapes they cycled across, but the group agreed the most memorable part of the trip was cycling 2600km without any major injuries.

''Overall, the highlight was that we all achieved it. We all made it.

''As a group, crossing the line at the end, a bond has been created that will never be broken amongst this group.''

The riders completed their tour on Sunday and celebrated by cycling up Bluff Hill - just because they could.

So would they do it again?

''Unlikely,'' Mr Milne said.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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