By Stan Stewart.
Riding in memory of Leith Wilson and raising money for the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust, local boy, John McKenzie (hmm! – well an older boy), and Terry Reardon from Mt Manganui raised $10,000 plus. The funding goes towards the purchase of a van needed for the transport of equipment to the homes of cancer patients in Mercury Bay. They recently completed the TA – Tour Aotearoa. This 3,000km bikepacking trip is one of the world’s best and most challenging bike rides. The trail winds from Cape Reinga to Bluff and has to be completed in 30 days. The trip starts on the 90 mile beach – yes, the riders have to cycle every kilometre of this beach. Then the journey snakes through national parks, backwoods, up hills (mountains more like it) and down almost impossible slopes on scoria and shifting rocks. Fun? Well, John simply said every day was hard. “Thoughts of dropping out nudge the mind and riders must be determined and remain intellectually strong,” John said. He continues, “Two episodes are fixed in my mind. Leaving Dargaville at 6.00am in the dark and facing head on, blinding rain, which incidentally, kept up for two days. The second was eating wet pies as we rode. We satisfied our need for food with take aways from dairies. We stopped at every one we passed,” John said. To sustain themselves on long, lonely stretches, they would stow two or three pies near their bums in some kind of container. These were eaten as they rode. Sometimes they were not only cold but also wet – they ate their wet, cold pies. Think about it - but it’s not a good image when you are dropping off to sleep. But they survived. John and Terry have vivid memories not only of hardships, but of the beauty of Aotearoa and the kindness of its people – especially the staff in bike shops, whose services were needed at various stops. Their overnights were often with rugby friends. The commercial premises were mostly good, but there were exceptions and the boys survived virtually intact, a stay in a ‘red light’ lodge high in the mountains. Well done! Most important of all, they honoured their friend Leigh Wilson and the money they raised -$10,000, will enable appropriate home care for many cancer supporters. Thank you, John and Terry, for your amazing contribution to a significant work in Mercury Bay for people who really value everyday life gives them. Post Script: Two other riders will undertake the same trek for the same cause. Neither are from Whitianga. They are Lindsay Campbell and Doug Hudson.
The Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust is getting near its fund raising goal for the Palliative Care Van. Contact Ruth Young Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.