For 24 hours in November, a 40 year old Kapiti Coast man will literally ride rings around the Taupo Velodrome in an effort to break the New Zealand 24 Hour Outdoor Track Record, and in doing so, raise money for Kids@Heart (supporting children with congenital heart disease).
Stu Downs started cycling in 2005 after being shocked into action by a medical assessment of his weight when he tipped the scales at 120kg.
Since then, Stu has completed the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge 320km Enduro and 640km Maxi Enduro events, the Taupo Half Ironman twice, the New Zealand Ironman and the 505km Graperide Ultimate twice – this year achieving a podium finish in third place.
"Something had to change. I was overweight, unfit and unhealthy and facing a shortened life span unless I made a drastic change. I discovered cycling and in doing so, have made a complete life change for me and my family.
"Now, exercise and eating well is part of everyday life, but it's still important for me to set big goals so that I have a focus for my training and efforts.
"Cycling has given me so much, so this year I was looking for a new challenge that would also give something back to cycling and local communities. As a result, the 'record ride' goal was born."
Stu will start his record ride at 8am on Friday 25 November, finishing at 8am on Saturday 26 November. The ride has been timed to coincide with the 2011 Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge and has been included in the event's programme for that weekend.
"I am absolutely thrilled that the record ride is part of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge weekend – that event has been a big part of my life for the past few years so it's an honour to ride be involved with a respected sporting event. Hopefully people who are coming to Taupo to participate in this event will also stop at the Velodrome to cheer me on for a few laps as well!"
Stu says it was an easy decision to support Kids@Heart with his record ride attempt.
"This ride is about much more than me. It's my turn to give something back.
"A congenital heart condition is the most common serious birth abnormality in New Zealand that needs ongoing medical intervention. We have been incredibly fortunate not to have been personally impacted by this condition, but every week 12 babies are born in New Zealand who are.
"Every little bit will help so this is my contribution to the cause."
Stu says there are two ways people can contribute to his Record Ride fundraising effort – Though a number of charity auctions and through an online fundraising page.
"A large number of organisations have generously donated goods and products to the cause, and these will be sole in $1 reserve auctions on Trade Me. There is everything from a 3 month City Fitness membership, through to a season pass for the Ocean Swim Series, through to a night's stay at any Scenic Hotel will be available. A full schedule of auctions is at www.recordride2011.com.
"Secondly, you can donate money to Kids@Heart via the website www.everydayhero.co.nz/recordride2011.
"Every donation will give people an entry into a competition to guess the number of laps that I'll complete in the 24 hours. Those picking the number of laps correctly will be randomly drawn to win a great prize."
In the meantime, Stu is facing a strenuous training programme over the next five months, which will include a test run at the Taupo Velodrome and a number of night rides, including an overnight ride of four laps of the Akatarawa's loop – a distance of almost 400kms.
"We need to replicate as many of the conditions as possible, so there will be a number of training sessions that involve riding through the night."
In total, Stu expects to ride between 11,000 and 12,000 kilometres before the November's record ride at Taupo.
For further information about the record ride, go to www.recordride2011.com