Regular LoveCycling blogger and a customer of our Grafham Cycling store Frank Burns started his 1500 mile End-to-End of New Zealand bike ride last week. Here Frank tells us a little about the ride so far and tells us why he feels New Zealanders really are as generous as people say...
My New Zealand end-to-end started ominously after 35 hours of flying, absolutely no sleep in 48 hours, and no help to get out to Cape Reinga (my starting point) which lay 124 km(76miles) to the north. The only alternative was to cycle out on this narrow spit of land, bordering a 56 mile beach that bears the title of "90 mile beach" (?) to visit the lighthouse at the end of the cape, a spot that has a long history of Maori spirituality.
- Cape Reinga Lighthouse
To help me on my way, and to save me repeating the same journey in reverse, three young German engineers offered me a lift in the campervan for about half the distance......and so I was finally on my way to Bluff, a journey that is about 3000 km (1800miles).
With the sun beating down, all exposed bits of UK winter skin lathered in factor 50, I wended my way down the west coast of Northland, through Kauri tree forests, bashing against the most horrendous headwind, only to be royally entertained by the Save the Children volunteers of Dargaville, and hosted by an 80 year old member of their ranks.
The campsites I stayed at were most welcoming, always offering me a discount as their contribution to the charity, sometimes offering me a meal. I have now got used to people chasing me when they see the sign on the back of my bike, offering a small or large donation to the Children in Syria. A woman wordlessly put $20 into my hand; a motorist at some traffic lights gave me $5 to buy myself a drink; another motorist drove alongside me and gave me $12 in change as we sped along at 30kph. The volunteers at Dargaville gave me $50. And so it goes on. The Kiwis indeed justify their reputation as being the most generous nation in the world when it comes to giving to good causes.
I have bypassed Auckland, and stayed with friends in a house with stunning views of the harbour, cycled down the Coromandel peninsula, and am now in Rotorua, the capital of volcanic sulphur baths and mud treatments. Whether I will indulge, remains to be seen...
During my last few days on North Island, the most important visit to make is to the tiny village of Kimbolton which, back in 1867, was born out of my own village of Kimbolton near Huntingdon. I have a "date" with the headmistress of the local school, and I will present some official documents of greeting from our own Parish Council.
Keep tuned. There will be more posts on this incredible journey, connectivity and phone signals permitting.
This is a charity ride. If you would care to support the Children in Syria in their struggle to survive the dreadful civil war, please feel free to donate securely at: www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1
All the Expenses of this 1500 mile expedition will be mine meaning every penny of your donation will go to my chosen charity; Children in Syria.
See you up the road.