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900km for peddler doc

DUBBY HENRY
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2014
Dr Adam Harper
THIS TIME: Opaheke’s Dr Adam Harper plans to finish the 900km Wellington to Auckland Cycle Challenge.

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Last time Dr Adam Harper tried to cycle 900km, he fell short by just 2km.

The Middlemore Hospital anaesthetist from Opaheke was among more than 100 riders taking on the Wellington to Auckland Cycle Challenge.

But when a crash halfway through saw a rider taken to hospital, the doctor had to accompany him in the ambulance, skipping a crucial leg of the journey.

So it's "quite important to me to finish this one", the 43-year-old says.

The ride, which started in Lower Hutt on Sunday, is a fundraiser for the Auckland and North Shore Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.

MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body's nervous system and significantly shortens lifespan. About 4000 people in New Zealand have MS and there is no known cure.

Dr Harper is happy to be helping raise funds for MS sufferers and their families although he admits he does not have an "inspirational story" of his own.

"I'm riding purely for the joy if it."

By the time you read this, he should be halfway up the North Island. But don't ask him to pinpoint his exact location.

"You don't know where you are most of the time. You don't even really appreciate the scenery because you're riding in tight groups so you're just focused on the wheel in front of you."

The ride is for all ages and ability levels and is as much about the social aspect as the challenge.

Overnight stays in little North Island towns give plenty of time for making new friends and catching up with old ones.

Dr Harper is riding in the social grade but still trains hard, up to 12 hours a week.

His fitness and technique have improved vastly with help from Takanini coach Logan Mort, he says.

"Something was lacking. As a doctor I know a reasonable amount about [physiology] but I got to a point where I needed help."

Mr Mort coached him to focus on interval training and drills instead of logging hours on the bike, advice which he say has brought about big improvements.

He is also grateful to his family for their patience.

"They take an interest in my training and are very tolerant of my selfish rides during family time."

The cycle challenge riders are expected to arrive in Pukekohe on Saturday.

Go to wellingtontoauckland.co.nz to keep track of their progress.

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- Papakura Courier

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