Brendon Wood

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It takes a special type of person to not only stay awake for 24 hours – but to ride a mountain bike while doing so! Brendon Wood recently won the Under 23 division at the 24 Hour Asia Pacific Continental Championship held in Armidale, which was a test of his endurance and fortitude against tough competition …

Hi Brendon. Long time, no speak! You were planning “schoolies” and a trip overseas the last time we spoke. Where are you up to with work/studying these days?

Yes, that was four years ago now since my trip to Nepal, and it was really fantastic. 

These days I have some amazing opportunities to be working with and alongside young people. I work at Heritage Christian School as the Outdoor Education Assistant. This allows me to plan and participate in a lot of camps and sports trips throughout the year, which means I get to spend lots of time with students in a relational way. I don’t teach in classrooms, so I use these opportunities to teach them character and to build relationships with them. 

I also work as the Youth Ministry Leader at Grace Church, Port Macquarie. This again gives me the opportunity to build relationships with teenagers and guide them in their faith in Jesus. Both jobs work hand in hand, and I love the opportunities I get to help others. 

Mountain biking is obviously still a big passion for you, as you recently won the Under 23 division at the 24 Hour, Asia Pacific Continental Championship held over November 9 and 10 this year. Where was this event contested, and what was the course like?

The event was held at Sport UNE in Armidale, NSW, which is part of their university campus. It was two championships combined, as you could win the NATIONAL Championships and the ASIA PACIFIC Championships. I was lucky enough to win both of these titles, after a number of attempts in the past at the national champs. 

The course was really dusty and dry and had open areas and pine forest. Lots of rocks and roots made the track very rough, especially at night time, when you couldn’t see as much ahead of you.

How did you find the competition – was it super tough?

Well, 24 hours is a long time, where lots can happen to both you and your equipment. While there aren’t many people who participate in these crazy long events, you often find that everyone is really good at it – which makes it competitive. 

The toughest part for me in the past has been staying healthy and staying awake the entirety of the event. This time I was able to do both, which was the original goal, to just ride all through the night. 

This sounds crazy, but I actually felt bad from 8 pm – 2 am, BUT then started to feel good for some reason. 

How did you prepare for this event?

The best way to prepare is obviously lots of riding and with a good variety – lots of climbing hills and riding at different times of the day. My preparation wasn’t the best it has been, as I sprained (potentially dislocated) my shoulder two weeks beforehand. This caused a lot of stress, but I have some really great help from Matt Hempsell at One Health Clinic, who was able to sort me out with strapping my shoulder.

What was it like coming away with the win?

It was a pretty special moment for me and something I did not expect leading into the race and even during the race. We were being evacuated from home on Friday afternoon due to the bushfires, so I didn’t even know if I was able to race. 

So, with all that stress, I chose to not worry about what position I was in, but rather to have the attitude of just riding and enjoying myself. As the race wore on, I was able to become more competitive and more focused on positions, which helped me get the win. 

Whom would you like to thank for their support?

My mum and grandma were able to take me and support me financially and organised all my water and food during the race. Mum always makes friends and did so with our pit neighbours, who were also very kind in assisting with my bike maintenance and food while they were asleep or away.

One Health Clinic – Matt Hempsell has been a long-time supporter of me with my racing and personally, so many thanks to him. 

What’s next on the agenda for you sporting-wise – what are your sights set on?

World Championships next year will be the ultimate goal. It is in Armidale at the same time of year, so it was great to get a feel of the race track and conditions that may be on offer. 

Otherwise, it will be to compete at the National Championships again. 

I also play some local sports competitions with some friends; it’s really great for me to be playing in a team sport having loads of fun. That’s what sport is about for me – enjoying it with others and helping others succeed, so when I’m racing my bike I know, it’s not the end if I lose, because the game of Multisports or touch footy with friends is the enjoyable part. Twenty four hours riding is to see how far I can push my limits on a bike. 

Apart from sport, what are your other plans moving into 2020? Do you have study/travel/work goals?

2020 for me I believe will be similar work-wise, as I just hope to keep making a difference to young people who are around me. I love travelling, and the camps and sports trips at school give me plenty of that, as well as organising bike races for the excuse to go on holidays.

Where can we follow your achievements? 

You can follow me on Instagram @brenny_wood where I generally update what I’m doing in my life. Otherwise, I’m more than happy to share in conversation if you ever see me around town.

Thanks, Brendon.

Interview: Jo Robinson.

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