Cycling: Vow leads to victory

By Cameron Leslie

Riding 3116km in 107 hours takes a special sort of motivation. For Whangarei's Kevin Mackenzie it was 18-year-old meningitis victim Ben Brown.

Mackenzie promised Brown he would win one day and he has delivered on that promise after finishing first in New Zealand and 25th in the world.

"When you are out riding for up to six hours a day," explained Mackenzie. "You think of a lot of things and when it starts to hurt I think of Ben and what he went through, and [I] just man up and keep riding.

"I am sure he is looking out for me, as there has been a few close calls with milk tankers and yobs throwing bottles at you.

"And what do you win? Nothing. [Except for] the glory, hard work, and sweat. [And] Northland will be on top."

Mackenzie's effort was part of a worldwide month-long base fitness challenge during January where cyclists are monitored by a smart phone application.

The application, Strava, lets you track your rides and runs via your iPhone, Android or dedicated GPS device to analyse and quantify user's performances.

Mackenzie said he started using Strava last year to monitor his cycling to have fun with friends who also used it.

"You can check your progress, and it tells you everything you want to know about your ride [such as] speed, distance, elevation, power, heart rate and [Strava] shows you on a map where you have been.

"Mates in the United Kingdom who use it can see where you have ridden and how hard you have trained and comment on it, and vice versa. It's the Facebook of fitness."

Northlanders may have seen Mackenzie cruising around the streets in central Whangarei, where he has carved himself an easy 1km circuit around Lower Dent St and Herokino St, or near Hikurangi.

Mackenzie said he had been riding six days a week and resting on Mondays. However, as the competition drew closer to the end he rode 10 days in a row, burning about 58,000 calories along the way.

"Paul and Tracey at Avanti Whangarei have helped me out with spare tubes, and energy bars and gels to keep me going. All my riding has been done in the Whangarei area, Pataua, Pipiwai, Hikurangi, Titoki [and the likes]."

Mackenzie would ride the Herokino St circuit up to 50 times some days, making it a supposed easy 50km with no traffic or road debris to avoid.

Mackenzie has a personal connection to Ben Brown, who was his daughter's boyfriend. Ben died in August 2011 after medical experts on two occasions failed to diagnose him with meningitis.

The winner of the Strava base challenge completed 3368km more than Mackenzie.

- Northern Advocate

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