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CMP NZCJ Ohau Challenge High Res 0333

Doing what it takes to avoid a tyre-some lockdown

Liam Friary is challenging himself to do a marathon when he gets out of Alert Level 3.

For the editor of NZ Mountain Biker, it’s a way to get through Auckland’s extended lockdown in a strong headspace.

Over the last few weeks, Liam has been pulling from his kēte of feel-good resources to get through.

“You can either go into a negative mindset or come up with little challenges to give you peaks and troughs in a time that can be quite monotonous,” says Liam.

Last lockdown, Liam headed straight to Ōhau in the South Island when the lockdown restrictions lifted. Here he climbed a road in Ōhau four times to climb the height of Mt Cook, after training for it throughout the lockdown.

“Sport and movement embodies everything we are as humans. We are made to move. You can be alone with your thoughts too much in lockdown, so getting out for a ride or run – or even a walk – disrupts what you’re doing. Then you can come back with endorphins and a new mindset.”

This time he is clocking up hours on the bike both inside and outside. Thanks to his wife, who is training for an ultra marathon, he has been motivated to aim for the marathon.

Getting out on his bike or out for a run has proved meditative.

“Not to get too deep but it is like a cleanse for the brain and it helps to reorganise the brain structure so I can then go on to other tasks. It helps you forget there are new COVID cases that day and makes you realise the world still exists outside of the news cycle and the pandemic.”

Through riding, he and his community of friends and avid cyclists are also inspiring each other to move or set challenges.

“Social media is a great way to connect,” he says.

Liam says he has friends enjoying the “burbing” trend, which took off in Melbourne. It sees keen mountain bikers hitting their neighbourhoods rather than their preferred trails.

“There are cool stories of people riding round their block and their partners putting up water or meals halfway through.”

Some have clocked up to 300 km a day or nine hours, simply by cycling round their neighbourhood several times.

“We’re inspiring each other, which is really motivating.”

The longer rides allow Liam and his pals to step away from their screens so they’re not “bombarded by modern technology”.

Liam says being alone in his thoughts is not always helpful, so he makes a concerted effort to reach out to friends and family when he feels low.

“I’m really lucky in that through my sport and work I can talk about my mental struggles. I’m surrounded by people in my life who I feel I can pick up the phone and reach out to. The pandemic is a struggle in many ways and in how it impacts life, and it’s not something you have to struggle through alone.”

Liam celebrates the wins where he can and is proud of the fact he produced an entire issue of NZ Mountain Biker from his Auckland basement during this latest lockdown.

With the help of a remote designer and remote proofreader, the issue was pulled together and printed.

“It’s a massive sense of achievement. To know we did this when the doors were shut. Life will always throw you curveballs, so you have to manage them as best you can.”

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