Al’s stiff challenge on his bike called Viagra

SHARE

Pedalling almost 4000km on a mountain bike through North America was “a holiday” for diehard Glenorchy cyclist Al Fastier. 

Setting off from Banff, Canada, on July 11, he rode through the Rocky Mountains on mostly gravel roads for six weeks with only his suspension-free, steel-framed bike Via for company. 

Chasing the Continental Divide, Fastier covered about 100kms of mountainous terrain per day, lugging everything he needed – including a tent, sleeping bag, spare bike parts and food. 

He’d shed 7kg by August 23 when he rode into Albuquerque, New Mexico on 21-speed Via – short for Viagra because it’s perfectly rigid. 

Cycling isn’t a recent addiction for Fastier – in his younger days the 50-year-old biked through Europe for six months and has pedalled New Zealand several times. 

“It’s such a great way to travel. You can drive up and down the Glenorchy road hundreds of times and it’s not until you bike it that you actually know the road,” he says. 

In the early 1990s Fastier also zipped to Mount Cook from Twizel, tied his bike to his pack and climbed over the Copland Pass using crampons and ice axes. 

Chilly climates are also common territory for Fastier, who spends Kiwi summers living in a tent in Antarctica restoring historic huts in his role as the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s programme boss. 

The modest local says his own exploits are “run of the mill” in comparison to his Antarctic pioneer heroes Sir Ernest Shackleton and Robert Scott. 

“The work I do is all around the polar explorers and even when I was having a bad day – every day was a good day but some days were better than others – I’d consider what equipment and resources I had and how close I was to civilization. 

“Those polar explorers walking to the pole just had it so hard and they pushed on, so there’s just no comparison,” Fastier says. 

He’s heading back to Antarctica mid-November but is already planning next year’s cycling marathon – he intends to power from Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, to Kathmandu in Nepal.