Michael Brown is going through a mid-life crisis so he thought it would be a good idea to tackle the Pioneer, a seven-day mountain bike race from Christchurch to Queenstown. This is his final training blog.

Frank Sinatra reckoned he had a few regrets.

Funnily enough I've started playing his ditty My Way in my head and replaced the word regret with doubts because, jeepers, I've had a few lately over this Pioneer mountain bike race that starts on Sunday.

For some reason, I thought competing in a seven-day race from Christchurch to Queenstown would be a cool thing to do. Not only was it a challenge and something not remotely close to what I had done before but it would also take me to some stunning parts of the country.

I could, you know, call myself a Pioneer in an era when few can lay claim to that.


But reality soon kicked in. Not only is it seven days, but it is also 549km long and involves more than 15,000m of climbing in the Southern Alps.

I'm a little light-headed just thinking about that. Perhaps it's altitude sickness.

Some think I'm insane, others seem slightly impressed and a handful are even jealous. I'm freaking out.

It didn't help when organisers started sharing the details of each day's ride and talked about gradients in excess of 20 per cent and used words like "tough", "challenging" and "brutal". Thanks.

My journey started five months ago, the result of a mid-life crisis.

I figured I needed something big to get stuck into and liked the idea of a physical challenge, even though I had no background in cycling other than riding my 10-speed to school and teaching my kids that you can actually balance on two wheels.

I had never even worn lycra and, quite frankly, thought it looked a little ridiculous. I now have an entire drawer full of the stuff.

There have been multiple challenges along the way, like training humps and alarming weight loss and most recently a few niggles I hope won't turn into something more serious.

I have invested so much physical and emotional energy into this project over the last five months it would be devastating if I was let down by my ageing body.

It has been an interesting journey even to this point. I have seen some stunning sunrises when previously this was something I only ever saw in pictures, met some really good people and modified my eating to the point I'm now taking beetroot juice shots.

I now know what IT bands are (my nemesis), can attest to how hard roads are after coming off during a bunch ride in the wet and discovered a lot more of Auckland and its surrounds.

I have not, however, given in to shaving my legs.

On Sunday, I will line up with 337 other riders. Some have aspirations of winning but most, like me, merely want to finish.

Among them will be an ex-Formula 1 driver, a cancer survivor who had been told he had three weeks to live and a guy who suffers such a painful form of arthritis he can barely walk (somehow he can ride for hours). On top of that, 45 per cent of entrants are from overseas.

The people I meet is something I'm looking forward to as much as the riding.

I'm at the point where I just need this thing to start. Tapering has not been kind to me, with my legs feeling like they are seizing up, and I have too much time to fester over what is coming up.

To parrot Sinatra, there have been times, I'm sure you knew, when I bit off more than I could chew.

The next seven days will illustrate whether I faced it all and I stood tall, and did it my way.