Ride of the Legends 2017

The experience of cycling with rugby legends

is a mixture of alpha-male competitiveness, locker room humour,

travel, new mates, and extreme exhaustion.”

ROTL co-founder, MIKE GORE

WORDS JENNY RUDD PHOTOS RICHARD LANE / SUPPLIED

Ride of the Legends, Sydney, Melbourne, cycling
ROTL en route from Mel­bourne to Syd­ney in 2013

In 2013, Eng­lish rug­by leg­end Peter Win­ter­bot­tom and his friend Mike Gore took their char­i­ty cycling crew, Ride Of The Lions (ROTL), to Aus­tralia and joined the Lions tour, cycling the match ball from Mel­bourne to Syd­ney. ROTL is an ever chang­ing group of peo­ple, with a few hard­core reg­u­lars (and ex-Lions play­ers), who have ped­alled thou­sands of miles across dif­fer­ent coun­tries, rais­ing close to $1 mil­lion for char­i­ties such as ROTL favourite, Walk­ing With The Wound­ed.

This year, Ride Of The Lions becomes Ride of The Leg­ends, as ex-Lions are joined by ex-All Blacks, and a load of British and Kiwi rug­by and cycling enthu­si­asts. It sounds like a pret­ty damned chal­leng­ing test of endurance: cycling 534 km from Welling­ton up to The Coro­man­del, with plen­ty of lumpy hills en route. And it was most like­ly kicked off with a mild hang­over, too, given that it start­ed on July 2nd, the morn­ing after the sec­ond test.

The rug­by stars have all been prime spec­i­mens in their time, play­ing rug­by for their coun­tries. But there are a few years on the clock between them. Ex-Lions include Peter Win­ter­bot­tom, Roger Utt­ley, Rob Hen­der­son and Rodger Arneil. Amongst the ex-All Blacks are Ian Jones, Alby Ander­son, Andy Earl, Ian Kirk­patrick, Bernie McC­ahill, Buck Shelford and Frank Bunce.

Nev­er has a phys­io­ther­a­pist had a more vital role than mak­ing sure those old rug­by injuries don’t stop the wheels from turn­ing. Step for­ward Roger Athy-Knibbs, own­er of Salveo Ther­a­py in Tau­ran­ga, who has been invit­ed to join the ride as the off­cial ROTL phys­io.

Before found­ing Salveo in 2007, Roger was head phys­io at Lon­don rug­by club Wasps. It was there in 2003 where he met cur­rent Lions coach, War­ren Gat­land. “War­ren was head coach, and took Wasps from the bot­tom of the league to win the cham­pi­onship three years in a row. I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing him again, and a few oth­er famil­iar faces from my rug­by days.” Roger has treat­ed some of the biggest names in world sport. As well as inter­na­tion­al rug­by stars, Roger has looked after the Steam­ers, the Mag­ic net­ball team, and Kane Williamson, who says, “When­ev­er I come home, I test Rog with the new nig­gles I’ve picked up on tour.” His patients at Salveo must hound him for sto­ries of glam sports stars. Roger laughs. “I just focus on help­ing the per­son in front of me. It makes no dif­fer­ence who you are. I just love the chal­lenge of help­ing peo­ple repair their bod­ies.”

Helping Phil Vickery leave the field with a blood injury
Help­ing Phil Vick­ery leave the field with a blood injury

CHARITIES

The British rid­ers are rais­ing mon­ey for two char­i­ties:

WALKINGWITHTHEWOUNDED.ORG.UK

WOODENSPOON.ORG.UK

The New Zealand rid­ers are rais­ing mon­ey for Con­duc­tive Edu­ca­tion. To donate, go to:

GIVE.EVERYDAYHERO.COM