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Canadian Ultra-marathon rider, Perry Stone, managed to break the record for riding around Australia, on May 18, 2000. He rode the 14,200 kilometres in 41 days and 5 minutes (346 km/day), breaking the previous mark (also set by him) by 22 hours.
Combined with the challenge of riding the distance, were other obstacles such as keeping his crew together. Internal friction meant that only two out of the original seven made to the finish in Fremantle, Western Australia, and that proved to be quite costly.
Perry intends on tackling the Race Across America (RAAM) on June 18 next, with a few miles in his legs now. Here's Perry's story in his own words:
Lap number two is complete. It was an odyssey of personal epic proportions. I am extremely proud of my effort and the monumental dedication, drive and endless effort of Mark Schwinkowski and Christy Frisken, my two crew members that went the distance. I would still be out there somewhere between desperate and lost without their support. We faced more unforeseeable obstacles than any nightmare could ever produce. Thank you will never be enough, but for now, from the bottom of my heart thank you. There are a million thankyous I want to address and being as such I will not address them here and now.
When my prized possession, my beautiful brand new Bianchi Mega Pro Concept was run over and half way destroyed, Gary at GESPORT promotions, the Australian Bianchi Distributor, wasted not one second, in arranging its refit. The team at Mega Bikes in Adelaide completed the rescue and on I rode. I was deeply moved by the incredible support and professionalism provided. I wanted more then ever to deliver a finishing time of 30 days as a way of saying thank you to them. But it was not to be. Matters beyond our control escalated and virtually eliminated any hope at all of a 30 day finish. I won't go into the problems other then to say we started as a team of 8 and finished as a team of 3 and even though I haven't run the numbers I suspect we were more efficient as 3. I knew all I could do was my very best. So I just rode. I accept full responsibility for all the delays.
In the last eight months I have crossed the Nullarbor three times and pedalled over 38000 kilometres in this glorious land of Australia. I have encountered tough times and magical times. I have had the grand fortune to meet so many magnificent people that it makes my head spin. The enthusiasm of "my mates" has done everything to propel me onward. In a country where kangaroos often out number the people, where cattle stations are in excess of a million acres and you might need to travel 300 kilometres to get your tea, where the sun could melt even the most ardent of desires and the cold could cripple the same I never felt alone. In fact I always knew it wouldn't be long before some Aussie would come by me and cheer me on, pump up my energy stores and they always did. They always did.
At the end of the race I rode 1200 kilometres on 3 hours sleep before the mental demons produced their strongest attack. About 150 kilometres from the finish line, all was too easy, the only thing left to contend with was the monotony of the last 5 or 6 hours of riding. It was the first time in the entire effort I was bored and as it is said, an idle mind is the devil's workshop. Hallucinating in dramatic fashion I began to and continued to pullover, time and time again. Each time for reasons I couldn't understand or for the most even begin to explain to my patient crew. When night fall came I could not distinguish what lane oncoming traffic was in or what lane I was supposed to be in. Being from North America the distinction between the left and right sides of the road blurred. Mark and Christy worked very closely with me to try and ensure my safety. I was coherent enough to understand their directives. I knew it had to be frustrating for them as they ached to finish as well. In those three hours we covered just 30 kilometres.
As I worked through my mental meltdown my crew grew sleepy. I suggested they catch an hours sleep while I rode ahead. It was the last time I saw them. I rode through road construction accompanied by roadtrains. My hydration and nutrition fluids emptied. My headlight battery died. The night got colder and colder. I fell asleep constantly on the bike and finally laid down using my Bianchi as a pillow. I awoke frozen. I pedalled on towards Perth and on to Fremantle. I made it to Perth and then got seriously lost. A tour de Perth developed and finally after endless effort I found the Canning Highway and raced to the finish. I crossed the line with only a milkman in attendance. That is how this effort came to a conclusion.
If I allowed it to be, it could be devastating, but that would never happen. The race didn't kill me, so it had to make me stronger. Christy, Mark and I never quit. What's next? Lap number three of course. Crew required apply within.
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