National bike tour kicks off

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Rescue Warriors from left, Willy Leferink, Bruce Kell, David Keeley and Warren Harris are ahead of the start of their 3000km bike ride.

Bruce Kell celebrated his 60th birthday yesterday riding along Ninety Mile Beach on the first leg of a 3000km bike ride travelling the length of New Zealand.

He is biking alongside his Hinds Lions mates David Keeley, Willy Leferink and Warren Harris.

The men are setting off on the nationwide bike adventure and raising money for Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

The four have an average age of 62 and are known as the Rescue Warriors.

They taking part in Tour Aotearoa, an organised bike event biking from Cape Reinga to Bluff raising money for charity.

There are 77 riders starting on the leg, Mr Kell said.

They are on traditional pedal bikes and Ninety Mile Beach is the first leg of the tour’s brevet.

They are mostly camping along the route – carrying up to 15kg of personal equipment including tents – and hope to complete the tour in 25 days.

There may be the occasional night in cabins, he said.

As part of their fundraising they have set up the NZ 3000km Bike Tour Facebook page for people to keep up to date with their travels, and also a Givealittle page and a Westpac bank account where people can support their cause.

Mr Kell had not thought much about his birthday milestone, but doing the tour had been on his bucket list for a number of years.

He mentioned his plan at Lions and the others were keen too. Only one had not been a regular bike rider.

Among them they had family members who had used the Westpac helicopter service over the years and deemed it such a deserving cause, so chose it as their charity cause.

Their Givealittle page says the nationwide tour was a way to “prove our bodies are not yet ready for retirement and still (as) capable of that a 20 year old body possesses.”.

“If we were going to do this, then we may need the boost of a great cause (probably on day two), what better than a medical service we may require during our adventure”.

Many people assume they will not need the services of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, but most recipients transported likely thought that too.

“This service could be required by anyone of us and without support it may not survive.”

Mid Canterbury rescues average around 25% of all Canterbury missions for the year, and the number is on the rise with increasing number of inter-hospital transfers happening from Ashburton.

Donations can be made directly to the Westpac account 3 0835 0090956-00 or to the Rescue Warriors Givealittle page (type in Westpac Helicopter).