‘Going the extra mile’ doesn’t do justice to the scope of Carey Vivian’s upcoming mission. The Queenstowner is riding the length of NZ, the hard way, for an incredibly personal cause. Philip Chandler reports
Motor neurone disease is a random, crippling and ultimately fatal condition.
When New Plymouth’s Barrie Vivian, who led an active life, even building a two-seater aeroplane, was diagnosed with MND just over two years ago, his son Carey, a 41-year-old Queens-town planner, felt powerless to help, living so far away.
“My wife said to me, ‘why don’t you do something to raise some money for the people that are helping him up there?’”
Carey – a passionate mountain biker whose dad made and fixed bikes for him when growing up – more than rose to his wife Elaine’s challenge.
Starting February 1, he’s mountain biking the length of the country with the aim of raising $50,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association of NZ, as well as awareness.
The association helps sufferers through employing seven field workers – about 300 NZers live with MND.
The Motor Neurone Cycle Challenge 2015 is dubbed ‘A Race Against Time’, because of his dad’s debilitating disease.
But Carey knows what he’s doing will be of no benefit to his dad.
He says: “It’s too late, it’s just a matter of time.”
Instead, he’s hoping to help “future sufferers of this cruel disease who will one day be faced with their own ‘race against time’”.
Carey – a founding Queenstown Mountain Bike Club member whose track-building, race-organising and fundraising earned him life membership – says the ride also enables him to cross off a ‘bucket list’ item.
However the Queenstown Trails Trust trustee is also tackling his length-of-NZ ride the hard way.
By sealed road, Cape Reinga in the far north to Bluff in the far south is just over 2000 kilometres.
By going off-road, riding as many of the NZ Cycle Trail trails as possible and mainly gravel roads in between, he’ll knock off 4000km, which he’s scheduled to cover in 42 days.
The first day, including 80km along Ninety Mile Beach, will probably be the hardest, he says.
“If it’s a headwind, it will be a nightmare.”
His biggest fear is saddle sores, a skin ailment, which he hopes to ward off with a product called ‘butt butter’.
Another challenge, he says, will be the steep roads in the North Island’s King Country, for example, compounded by the weight of his bike.
His ride’s self-supported so he’ll carry about 25 to 30kg of gear including tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment, three to four days’ food, water and spare equipment.
“Anything with my bike I can fix then get going to the next town and get it fixed properly.”
He’s had a partially-sponsored touring bike custom-built for him in the United States.
“It’s really comfortable to ride.
“All the tubes are over-size so it’s stronger.
“It’s made of steel which is quite unusual but if something cracks or breaks you can call into just about any farmer’s shed and get a welder and weld it back up and keep going.”
There’s also a solar panel for charging his GPS and phone and a dynamo front hub that generates electricity up to USB port.
He’ll blog about each day and there’ll also be live tracking from his Yellow Brick GPS.
On his fifth last day – March 7 – he’ll join the Motatapu off-road race from Wanaka to Arrowtown.
The following day, members of Pure NRG Queenstown intend fundraising for Carey in conjunction with his leg from Frankton to Fiordland’s Mavora Lakes.
Members are encouraging mountain bikers to take Queenstown’s TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak and ride to Mt Nicholas before boating back, or ride on to Mavora Lakes then bus back to Queenstown via Mossburn.
The club’s hoping to raise about $15,000.
Carey says he’s so far raised $18,000, mainly from email requests to friends and acquaintances.
He’s sought advice from local ‘fundraising extraordinaire’, ex-trails trust and Cure Kids chief executive Kaye Parker.
Help with his awareness campaign, social media and fundraising is coming from his brother and sisters.
“The most important factor in deciding to go ahead was my wife’s support – after all, she and my two young daughters will be by themselves for two months while I am off on my ride.”