Cycling for charity

John Taylor and Toby Sutherland made it to Mossburn  ( 17 March) after cycling from Walter Peak as the second to last leg of their trip from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Friends from the North IsIand and many tourists were in on the excitement as John Taylor and Toby Sutherland cycled up to  Bluff’s Stirling Point signpost  at the end of 27 days of cycling from Cape Reinga to Bluff as a way of supporting two significant charities.

 Anyone can do it, they just have to want to, Taylor and  Sutherland agreed as they lifted their bikes in the air as part of the expected tradition when people arrive at Bluff after completing the trail.

As fellow Martinborough Lions Club members they were inspired to take up the challenge of their  ride, they publicised as Toby and John’s Tour Aotearoa 2017,  by their love of the countryside, love of cycling, meeting people and also meaning they could raise  over $15000 for their favourite charities of Life Flight and Catwalk Trust.

" I am fortunate I have the time and financial resources to do this as I come up to 60 this year," Taylor said. " It was not a race but the epitome of a journey, not the destination, with us biking between 100 to 120 kilometres most days, averaging 15 Km an hour, with no rest days," Taylor said. " In many places we were hosted by fellow Lions who contributed awesome hospitality as well as funds and we appreciated Mossburn’s $500 donation."

The concept of the Cape Reinga to Bluff cycle trail was initiated largely by Jonathan Kennett, assisted by his brothers Paul and Simon.

It covers 3000 km of cycle trails with some road sections, whereas  a car journey would only take 1800 km.

"Jonathan designed the course to take in the wonderful cycle ways that NZ now has, with it mostly following the west coasts of both Islands," he said. " We came through Auckland city without going on a road which was a thrill and an easy ride after some steep hills on the Northland sections of the journey which tested our fresh legs ."

Catwalk Trust was set up by Katrina Williams, a NZ Olympic Equestrian who suffered spinal injuries and she created this charity for spinal research. Never say Never is their motto.

Life Flight provides emergency air travel in life threatening circumstances, usually in remote areas, with their motto of Saves Time, Saves lives.

Craig and Hannah Drummond from Five Rivers used the services of Life Flight when their baby son Luke needed an emergency heart operation recently.

"They were awesome and without their service, getting Luke from Invercargill airport to Auckland’s Starship  Hospital, he would not be alive," Craig said. " He is now seven months old and going back for more surgery soon."

People followed their journey and progress on Facebook and Give a Little. Individuals, groups  and schools contributed and Fern Ridge School in Masterton had a mufti day for them as well as followed their trip on a daily basis with the pupils learning a huge amount from that  personal involvement, such as about geography, distances and what volunteering means.

Both men appreciated special sponsors , Bruce and Caroline Robertson of Duncraigen Farm, Wyndham.

Sutherland, who is going to be 50 this year, said he did a bit of training beforehand, making sure he could handle 100 km and he found the advice he got from a sports nutritionist about drinking, food to eat and especially snacks, was great value.

"The weather was amazing with no rain in the North Island and just a little bit on the West Coast, as we came down through Haast, but it wasn’t cold," he said." We were self- sufficient, carrying everything we needed on our bikes, staying in camping grounds or backpackers as well as with Lions."

" We interacted with other bikers and tourists constantly along the way as we stopped at cafes for good food and self-care, as we looked after ourselves and our bikes for preservation," he said." The bikes went well overall, with a special service at Masterton where we had bought the bikes and we only had one flat tyre  which was John on the day coming to Mossburn."

" We had a lot of fun, although most of the stories need to stay on tour, we met many iconic Kiwis, we are still good friends  and we made it to Bluff together which was an amazing adventure," they agreed.