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
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.”