We cycled from Auckland to Queenstown over two months, 2250Km via some amazing, beautiful locations, we made the route up as we went along based on recommendations from locals. We averaged 55km a day and elevation gain of 660m/day which overall means we Everested more than 3 times, this means cycling up Everest 3 times in total over the whole trip, total elevation gain- 27000m. For reference, our plane on the journey home was travelling at 12,000m altitude so we cycled twice as high as that in total. Simply put – it was not flat!
We did this trip for a few reasons;
- We wanted to honour Lenny and Bhai through adventure, we always knew that we wanted to take them on adventures and we felt like this would be an important one for them;
- We knew that December and January were going to be tough months, Lenny’s first birthday, Bhai’s due date, Christmas, Lenny’s funeral anniversary and Bhai’s Funeral. The mix of emotions would be so strong and we honestly had no idea how we would survive this time. We love cycling and needed a change of scenery, so Mim came up with the idea of going to New Zealand and cycling…. what a great idea;
- We wanted to make an impact and create a lasting legacy for the boys, so we decided to make the trip into a film, documenting our journey and grief as we went along, with the intention of raising awareness of all forms of pregnancy and infant loss and educating people about the reality of grief and loss;
- To contribute to the global community of bereaved parents we have been fortunate enough to make connections with by representing their babies on the trip and through the film;
- Raise some money to kick start our charity;
- To restore our trust in the world again, we wanted to show that things can work out for us and we can solve problems and gain some confidence in our selves and the universe.
There trip was a success in many ways, we competed the trip, we documented our journey, we survived these two months and a certain degree of calm has entered our lives again. We have become more confident as people. We can go out for a meal and go to the supermarket without being filled with anxiety and panic. We have got to know the ‘new’ Mim and Roy and as much as we didn’t want to have to change so much, we have had to and we have begun to adjust to our ‘new normal’ as braver, stronger and more compassionate versions of ourselves.
The journey was hard, so hard! The physical challenge not so much, but the mental challenge was immense, especially early on. For the first month the weather was very poor, waking up in a wet tent every morning feeling heavy with grief was challenging in itself – motivating ourselves to get up, make food, pack away kit and cycle all day sometimes in torrential rain felt nearly impossible. As the trip progressed our grief felt lighter some days, the weather improved and we cycled with Jaap and Andrea, we shortened the days slightly and things felt a little more calm. It was never linear though, grief doesn’t work like that – sometimes the weight felt too much to carry either because of certain dates or certain triggers (a big one for us being young families adventuring in campervans as we felt so strongly that should be us with Lenny and Bhai). The heaviness sometimes lasted four hours or even days, then the wave would change. The thing about cycling – as with grief is the feelings can change quickly, one hour you can be cycling up a steep hill on tough terrain in the torrential rain, the next along a beautiful road or path with the sun shining and smiling remembering all the amazing things about your beautiful children. The punishment was good for me, going through some physical struggle and seeing a result was something that I’d not felt for a while and this felt good.
Being on the bike gives time for thought, reflection – almost like a version of meditation which was calming. Something about movement allows emotions to flow through you, it doesn’t feel easy and often it is very uncomfortable, there are no distractions and you are forced to feel your feelings and face up to the big ones. Sometimes Mim and I chatted, sometimes we would just grind it out up a hill for hours in silence. We thought so much about the boys and our lives, this was so important for us.
Early on I realised I found it hard to explain to people why were doing the trip and decided to push myself to do so. I found this hard initially but my confidence grew – most peoples’ reactions were kind and understanding although many didn’t know what to say. We began to realise that was ok – indeed that is one of the aims of Lenny’s legacy to enable people to speak more openly about difficult things. By the end of the trip I would talk about our story to anyone who I though deserved to know (it is after all a privilege to know about our sons) and I felt confident in that.
The trip really did show us that people are kind. We met some amazing people! Bereaved parents, Amelia and Ian, Ninia and Anton and Vicky. And some special friends for life, Andrea and Jaap, and Barbara. these people made our trip special, we shared our story, they spoke about our boys and we have made some everlasting memories with these people, Mike at cowboys paradise is a story that we will never forget. (there will be a blog post dedicated to our Dutch friends soon).
Cycling highlights for me were: Okere Falls, Timber trail, Whanganoui River, Queens Charlotte drive, Wilderness trail, Haast Pass, Lake Hawea.
Cycling lowlights: Washed away road near Te Puke, Old coach road on a touring bike (don’t listen to advice from big rig e-bike riders – no this not ok for a touring bike!) Hope Saddle (a mountain pass when we weren’t expecting one and we thought it would never end), Unknown gravel hill on the south island somewhere which was just very mean???
Other highlights – Able tasman Kayak, Mount Mounganoui walk, Milford sounds trip and Coffee cafes all over! New Zealand is a beautiful country.
To be honest I could talk all day about our adventure, because that is how we honour Lenny and Bhai.
We hope to have the film completed later this year, we have had confirmed charity status and Mim and I are starting to put together a training package for us to deliver to healthcare professionals. We are really excited to see where Lenny’s legacy goes…. hopefully more adventures too.
I cannot thank our friends and family enough for supporting us, offering accommodation, kit, emotional support, encouragement in the most challenging times. and all those people who believe in us and what we are doing. We of course include within this the amazing community of bereaved parents who we have connected with – many of whom we haven’t met but consider friends. We are immensely grateful! What we are most grateful for is the people in our lives who love our boys alongside us.
With gentle loveliness and crazy adventure,
Roy, Mim, Lenny and Bhai
Here are a few pictures from our adventure, there are many more if you ever want a slide show and a beer! For more pics and maps, see our instagram page @lennyslegacy