Howick men prepare for ride of a lifetime

ON YOUR BIKES: Left to right, Bruce Bothwell, Mike Benzie and Gerald Patterson are setting off to cycle the North Island. Time photo Kelly Teed

Three Howick businessmen are preparing to set off for the ride of a lifetime, alongside some rugby legends.

Gerald Patterson, Mike Benzie and Bruce Bothwell are set to cycle from Wellington to Auckland in July as part of the Ride of the Lions – Ride of the Legends 2017, raising money for the New Zealand foundation for Conductive Education.

Ride of the Lions was set up in 2013 between former British and Irish Lions rugby players and is described as mixing the endurance of long-distance cycling with the camaraderie of the rugby field.

The ride will see five former rugby players each side from the All Blacks and the British Lions ride alongside 40 other participants – 20 from New Zealand and 20 from the UK – as they take stops throughout regional New Zealand on their trip north between rugby matches.

Former All Blacks who will be on the tour include Buck Shelford, Albert Anderson, Bernie McCahill, Ian Kirkpatrick and Andy Earl.

The ride officially begins in Wellington on July 2nd after riders watch the Lions take on the All Blacks in Wellington before the first leg of the ride to Masterton – a 127km trek. They’ll cycle another 114km to Palmerston North before earning a rest day with a side of optional golf.
That’s then followed by 149km from Taupo to Matamata, 90km the next day as they travel onto Thames and a final 54km stretch to Coromandel before catching a ferry over to Auckland to enjoy the final test match between the Lions and All Blacks.

Despite none of the group covering that much distance on a bike before, they all agree they took it on as “a bit of fun.” They frequent many of the trails in the South Island and have competed in many cycling events before.

The men describe themselves as “real community guys,” each actively involved in organisations such the Howick Business Association, the Rotary Club and local sports. They hope to raise around $15,000 between them through pre-ride fundraising efforts which are in the midst of planning.

When it comes to pushing them to their physical limits, the tour is sure to be a challenge – but the rewards either end of the trek is what makes it worth it.

“We’re social cyclists – but keen rugby fans,” they laugh.

For more information on the team’s journey, or to donate, go to https://give.everydayhero.com/nz/blokesonspokes.

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