Count your blessings

I’m not a big one for fund raising and this blog is certainly not a vehicle for it in any normal circumstances… but I have been moved. If you read no further, go to the account number below, throw a few bucks in there and be gone. Or… read on and maybe you’ll be moved as well.

Over recent months I’ve been emotionally impacted by the big ‘C’. Not to anyone super-close to me but to friends I spend time with occasionally and with whom I have a lot in common.

Three families of similar ages to mine have all received the shocking news that their mums are very sick and may not be around for as long as they thought. How horrible. The thought of parents of my age telling their young children – of my children’s age or younger – that they may be losing their mum simply breaks my heart; I think about it and my eyes well with tears.

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A couple of hours ago I was flying down the Mt. Porepunkah Road heading to Bright on a modern high-tech mountain bike. It was 6.30pm in the middle of winter; pitch black, foggy up high, wet, muddy and freezing. My face ached from the cold; like a massive ice-cream headache without the bonus of the ice-cream, and the mud and water was continuously harassing my eyes because my glasses had been covered in mud within seconds of commencing the descent. I couldn’t feel a thing through my fingers so I had to feather my brakes to make sure my fingers were in the right position when I really needed to slow down. I ached all over from the earlier hard climb and the freezing conditions.

As Matt came up to me at a rare point where little concentration was required, I yelled across to him, “Geez I love this shit!.”

“It is a bit of an adventure,” he said – later questioning my lucidity.

But oh how I love it. Doing something ninety percent of the population would regard as stupid… as they stretch on the couch in front of their cosy wood heater on such a cold winter night. I do find it a bit hard to argue with their rationale. But I love doing stuff that many wouldn’t attempt; not that I’ve climbed K2 or walked to the South Pole yet – but you get what I mean. I love adventuring.

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Rod and Caz

So why do I put these two stories together? Well… I have a mate, Rod Stormonth, who is both a cop and a mountain biker with the same cycling passions as me. He does silly things like race his bike around mad technical trails for 6 hours at a time or ride in the dark of night on slippery dirt single track.

Rod’s wife Caz is extremely sick with a rare form of incurable lung cancer. I thought of her during my painful descent of Mt. Porepunkah last night; and of their two little blonde boys – Tyler, 6 and Cooper, 3. The tears were disguised, as the rain water dripping from my eyes had already turned to icicles (well not really but you know what I mean… it was bloody cold).

The pain of the last half hour of a ripping ride, my broken spoke of the day before and my flats of last week immediately paled into insignificance and made me feel lucky. They are the first-world-problems and insignificant issues of a lucky healthy 46 year old with a lovely healthy wife and three rowdy healthy children.

Anyway… Rod wants to do something even crazier and Carolyn is determined to be there to help him out. In October, Canberra will host the Wembo 24 hour World Solo Mountain Bike Championships. Caz will be in pit lane supporting Rod through the day and night and the boys will be there for the two-way inspiration which will no doubt occur between the boys and their dad.

It’s a testament to Caz’s personality that the things which make her most happy are the things which support her three boys to have a full and enriching life (many will not understand how riding a bike for 24 hours assists with a full and enriching life?!?… but hey – I get it!).

A good friend of the Stormonths, Ross Burrage, has teamed up with Norm and Jess Douglas of Forrest MTB Skills and Xavier Coppock of Triathlon and Multi-Sport Coaching to raise $5000 to send the family to Canberra in order that Caz can be the next dedicated wife to support her crazy husband through a solo 24hr MTB race.

Many would say they are both mad.

So if you feel moved to donate something to Caz’s cause, please throw something in the following account (managed by Ross). Every cent will go to the Stormonths and although Stormy should really be racing in the inaugural THULE B24 hour in Bright on 19 October 2013, I think Ross will be sending them to Canberra where Rod will be able to race in the company of a heap of other sickos who want to go it alone for 24 hours without the company of the more sensible individuals competing in teams.

Burrage Family Trust – BSB 083 646 – Account No. 599543182

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How lucky I am to feel the pain of the cold on my face; to climb Mount Porepunkah on a cold winter night and, when going back down, only know my brakes are going to work because I can feel them slowing me down or because I can actually see my fingers on the levers.

How lucky I am to spend a day at the Mt. Hotham with my family tomorrow knowing that it will be one of many more to come where Karen and I will be there to spend those days together with our kids. Having said that, I don’t envisage that my Kaz will ever do a Stormy Caz and help me through the night on a 24 hour mountain bike race… I think I’ll be finding someone else for that!

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Rod and Caz with Tyler and Cooper

So if you can give the value of a gold coin, 5 bucks or 50… it will help Caz achieve the satisfaction of spending one more challenging weekend with her boys in the bush. And I know that will make her happy.

(Please share)

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The painful ride that made me feel lucky!

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