At 73, Rob Dally is looking forward to riding with top New Zealand cycling pros like Jack Bauer and George Bennett.
The cancer survivor and keen cyclist is taking part in the Bupa Challenge Tour next Friday – Santos Tour Down Under’s annual mass-participation ride in Adelaide.
At the event, recreational cyclists get to ride on the same stage as the world’s top riders on a Union Cycliste Internationale world tour route. The competitors also raise money to help fund cancer research.
Mr Dally was diagnosed with prostate cancer seven years ago and had a radical prostatectomy. But he fought through it and has been cancer-free since the early diagnosis operation. He now rides to celebrate this achievement.
“I’m keen to ride a stage of the tour that the elites do straight after me and I’m keen to support a good charity,” Mr Dally said yesterday.
The Halswell resident flies to Adelaide on Monday with his wife Jan as his support crew. He said he was looking forward to meeting other passionate cyclists. Clocking up about 400km a week on average, Mr Dally regularly rides and drinks coffee with the Magpies cycling group.
“You get hooked,” he says. “There’s a real camaraderie.”
The former city council manager used to run for Papanui TocH but took up cycling 13 years ago when his dodgy knee forced him to stop running.
He says cycling is more exciting: “You’re going faster on two wheels – around corners, down hills.”
In 2011, he was preparing for a 130km road race and was as fit as he’d ever been, when his surgeon called him in and said he had cancer. “It was pretty awful really . . . pretty sobering.”
But he counts himself as one of the lucky ones and credits the experience with changing his thinking.
“Do what you want to do today, don’t leave it till tomorrow. Don’t take things or anybody for granted.”
Mrs Dally also took up cycling about same time as the cancer diagnosis and now the couple ride and race together.
Last year, they rode across France to celebrate 50 years of marriage. “
Those are the sorts of things you do when you can and count your blessings you’re able to.”