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 report from the seventh and final day of the race.

I'm sitting here looking at the Remarkables and it's a great sight.

It means that Greg Bowker and I have finished the Pioneer.

Finished: it's not normally a word that means much in the sporting realm, something I have been involved in professionally for the past 20 years, but being a finisher feels pretty, damn good right now. It's what Greg and I came to do and, despite a number of challenges, we achieved our goal.

The Pioneer brands itself as being tough and it was the toughest thing physically I have ever done.


You could see the toll it took on others, as they pushed themselves beyond their limits but, invariably, refused to give up. Greg was one. He suffered terribly at times but never once thought about pulling out because with big challenges come big rewards.

And his wife probably wouldn't have been that impressed.

A competitor summed up what most Pioneer riders have been through this week as 'type 2 fun'. What she meant was that it might not have felt like it at the time but we will all look back on it as 'fun'.

Today's ride was a little prickly, coming down from the Snow Farm on the Pisa Range through the Kawarau Gorge and into Queenstown. At times we were carrying our bikes through bogs and up steep banks, but we also had a jet-boat ride across the Kawarau River and rode past curious onlookers on the Kawarau suspension bridge where people pay to jump off a bridge.

It was initially touted as being 59km with 1450m of climbing, but ended up being 10km longer which messed with a few weary people's minds.

But it was just another challenge to overcome.

From the great people and great organisation to the amazing scenery and amazing riding, it was a potpourri of experiences.

What stands out the most is the scenery. It was incredible to discover parts of the country I will never get to again - unless, of course, I do the Pioneer again. We travelled through high country stations, mountain ranges, gorgeous valleys and even had a bit of fun on a couple of mountain bike trails.

As one overseas rider said, 'I got to see some great country through the sweat dripping down on my sunglasses'.

I am apparently going through a mid-life crisis. It's a mild affliction compared to a lot of people, like Andrew Gilboy who in 2013 was diagnosed with double hit lymphoma and given three weeks to live.

He finished the Pioneer.

It's stories like Andrew's which help put a lot of things in perspective. I don't want to get too deep and meaningful but it's a blessing to be fit and healthy, to have good family and friends and to live in a country like New Zealand.

I don't necessarily think I have been 'cured', and still maintain the right to be a grumpy old man at times, but the Pioneer is something I will always look back fondly on.

As the marketing suggests, 'find stunning, find welcome, find character' and 'ride beyond'. I did that, and survived.