Gnarly, freezing on NCEA ride

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MATES: Riding the Alpine to Ocean cycle trail are Ashburton Christian School students (from left) Jan Steenkamp, Gideon Kuipers, Wessel Blignalt, Wian Joubert and William Brown. PHOTO SUPPLIED
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Happy and relieved are how 17-year-olds Gideon Kuipers, Wessel Blignalt, Wian Joubert, Jan Steenkamp and William Brown are feeling after cycling the Alpine to Ocean trail last month.

The Ashburton Christian School year 12 and 13 physical education students undertook the 315km ride as part of an assessment for NCEA credits.

They cycled six to seven hours each day over five days.

The assessment required the ride to be on a minimum of a grade two (easy level) track. The trail includes grades two and three.

As well as doing the ride, they boys had to design a training plan, evaluate the ride and learn how to maintain a bike.

They prepared with an exercise regime, weight training and a practice ride of 80km.

‘‘Each day started pretty good. By the end of it our legs were tired and our bottoms were sore. Riding up the hills was gnarly,’’ Steenkamp said.

A group highlight was they and their bikes being transported by helicopter across the Tasman River.

‘‘In places it was very hilly, some of the hills were pretty steep but we pushed ourselves and rode up them,’’ Joubert said.

Not all the days were spent on the bike.

THE END: After cycling 315km, Ashburton Christian School physical education students are happy to reach the end of the Alpine to Ocean cycle trial in Oamaru. Pictured (from left) teacher Tim Dunn, students Jan Steenkamp, Wessel Blignalt, Gideon Kuipers, Wian Joubert and William Brown with teacher Fiona Ward. PHOTO SUPPLIED

‘‘We ventured out on the lake in kayaks. It was freezing, the water was so cold we only lasted about 10 minutes out there,’’ Blignalt said.

‘‘It didn’t help that the kayak had a hole in it,’’ Kuipers said.

‘‘In the valleys the temperature got as low as -7.6. It was very, very cold,’’ Joubert said.

Their cycle maintenance education came in handy with a flat tyre and a bolt snapped on a seat due to freezing.

They said they not only enjoyed the riding, but also each other’s company, taking in the scenery and eating some good pies.

They were joined by their teacher Tim Dunn, and Tom Ward the husband of a staff member Fiona Ward who was the group’s support person and cook.

The trail is New Zealand’s longest continuous cycle trail. It opened 21 years ago. It starts at Aoraki and finishes in Oamaru at the Pacific Ocean.