In November, Team BRIT driver Martyn Compton took part in an incredible event – cycling across New Zealand to raise money for a forces charity.
Here, Martyn tells us about the amazing experience.
Operation Ride was a coordinated long distance cycle ride across New Zealand in aid of the Pilgrim Bandits Charity. The Charity was established by a small group of Special Forces veterans in 2007 with the sole aim of using their unique training and experience to help and inspire injured personnel to live life to the full.
The Pilgrim bandits push you to the limits that you think your body can no longer handle. I like to challenge myself and push my boundaries, so was really keen to get involved.
18 veterans took part, each with unique stories of their time in service, and all having experienced different injuries. We had two teams from the UK, a south team and a north. We also had teams racing from Canada and New Zealand. Each team consisted of 4 injured and 1 able-bodied veterans.
The route went from the southern tip of New Zealand – Motupohue Scenic Reserve in Bluff (the bottom of New Zealand’s south island) to Cape Reinga (ultimate northern New Zealand), a distance of 1,521, miles or 2,500 km. We covered this in 17 days.
I trained at home using a spinning bike and got myself in the zone. We also had training camps where we got together as a team. We used specially adapted tandems with a hand cycle on the front, so some serious practise on these was a must! I think seeing us trying to get the hang of them was very entertaining for anyone watching as it took a while to get used to them!
For me, the whole experience was certainly a once in a life time opportunity, pushing every personal limits and boundaries. We had a great team, and even living in a camper van with 5 others for all that time, we still got on.
Both islands were completely different as far as the weather was concerned and how the people were towards us. It’s very much like going back in time, In a great way! the local people wherever we went, were amazing and so supportive of veterans.
The toughest moments and lowest points were the giant bloody hills, but even then, through the team work on our bike, we just kept each other going.
It was a fantastic adventure that I am very proud to have been a part of. We raised over £200,000 which is just incredible. I’m extremely thankful to the Pilgrim Bandits for organising the expedition.