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Cycling for rural health


Twenty-five Taranaki cyclists – many from a farming or rural background – will cycle the length of the South Island in February to raise money for the local Rural Support Trust.

Cycle participant Jo Gibbs says the ride aims to raise $100,000 for Taranaki Rural Support Trust and was the brainchild of a group of locals wanting to increase awareness around mental health and depression in the rural sector.

“The ride is on February 9-17 and will go from Picton down the West Coast to Bluff – a distance of 1125km,” says Jo.

“Some of us were keen riders to start with, some not. But mental health is an important discussion and a lot of the people doing this ride have some kind of personal experience of it, themselves or family members.”

Supporting rural health

Together, Darrel Nicholas, Ken Northcott and John Dowdle (a dairy farmer) came up with the plan to bike the South Island in support of rural health, suicide and depression.

“I did some research and was not aware of the deaths and numbers involved – and how it is not talked about. There was no public awareness of the problem,” says Darrel.

Of the 25 cyclists, eight are dairy farmers and another six live rurally. Eight are new to cycling.

Training hard

To get through the challenging but scenic ride, the group cycled average distances of 150-300km a week, along with spin classes and group rides.

“We will be cycling over the Haast Pass and the Crown Range. There is a lot of hill climbing and we will be averaging approximately 125km per day. The average age of the cyclists is 50-plus,” says Darrel.

“The biggest challenge will be hydration and nutrition – we need to get this right so everyone will be able to cycle the nine days. Everyone will have a ‘bad day’ on the bike. It is important that we are aware when this occurs and manage it accordingly.”

To donate, visit the Central Finance Charity Cycle Ride web page and follow their journey on their facebook page.

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