Track Cycling

Cyclist takes on Christchurch to Akaroa race in century-old track bike –


Daniel Whitehouse, won the 2018 Le Race cycling event that started in Cathedral Square and finished in Akaroa.

But Andy Beale, 48, wants to step it up. He’s pushing himself to complete the annual Le Race cycling event between Christchurch and Akaroa on a revamped, century-old bike.

The vintage bicycle, originally built between 1916 and 1921 with wooden wheel rims, was built as a track bike with no brakes and only one gear. The frame and the fork were “definitely still the original parts”, but brakes had been added for the race on March 23.


Andy Beale is competing in Le Race on a 100-year-old bicycle, racing from Christchurch to Akaroa.

The sole gear proved to be the biggest issue, making hill riding a “slow grind to say the least”.

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“It means that I will lose a bit of speed on the flat, but that’s just the way it is.”


Daniel Whitehouse, 23, following his win last year.

Beale expected the route to feel “more like weightlifting than cycling”, but was quietly confident he would get to the finish line, even if it meant walking the toughest sections, dragging the bike behind him and slogging through the uphill bits.

Beale, a multi-sport veteran, said pain was nothing to shy away from.

He found out exactly how hard he would have to pedal on a recent training ride to Little River where he reached more than 200 revolutions per minute. The average cyclist pedals about 60 rpm, with advanced cyclists doing about 100.


Keagan Girdlestone, who is battling post-traumatic stress disorder, will compete in Le Race. He almost bled out while racing in Europe a few years ago, when he crashed into a team car and had his jugular severed.

The Le Race route, from Christchurch’s Cathedral Square, over Dyers Pass and into Akaroa, is already challenging on a modern bike. Last year’s winner, professional cyclist Daniel Whitehouse, crossed the finish line in two hours and 41 minutes, followed by about 700 recreational riders.

Cyclist Keagan Girdlestone, who has been battling post-traumatic stress disorder, will ride to raise money for charity Changing Minds two years after he ploughed through the back of a team vehicle in Sant’Ermete, severing his carotid artery and jugular vein. The promising cyclist, who is originally from South Africa, shot to prominence in 2014 when he became the youngest winner of the event at just 16.

Beale, who moved to New Zealand in 2002 to pursue multisport opportunities, has been a long-time supporter of Le Race, winning the vintage section on an old Raleigh 20 “ladies shopping” bike in three-and-a-half hours after reaching 90kmh on the steepest downhill parts, four years ago.

He said a gym trainer suggested they both try complete the race on historic bikes, inspiring the idea, but “didn’t even show up on the day”. In the Masters 45-54 category, Beale will be a contender for the Enviromation Cup, which is calculated on both finishing time and the age of the rider.

“I’m not going to win it, that I know for sure, so it’s just about getting it done and completing a personal challenge for myself. You have to back yourself, don’t you?.”