Eight cyclists riding the length of New Zealand to raise money and awareness for suicide and depression stopped over in Queenstown this morning (Sunday).
The Ride out of the Blue cyclists – including Queenstowners Kim Percival and Rachel Kennedy – set off yesterday morning on their 21-day ride to Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island.
The first day from Bluff to Garston was tough, Kennedy says, with weather worsening throughout the day.
“We had a few cold riders finishing but we were in good spirits.
“We knew we had to ride through anything.”
The riders suffered five punctures between them, and also a puncture to one of their two support vans.
“It’s such a cool bunch of people,” Kennedy says.
“We were in hysterics – the first time I’ve ever been in hysterics riding on my bike.”
Several support riders accompanied the riders into Frankton’s Remarkables Park today, including Kennedy’s husband Jeff.
The riders then took off to ride the snowy Crown Range this afternoon.
Kennedy says they’ve heard days three and four could be the toughest – “just because you’re already tired”.
“But after days three and four you start building strength.”
The riders – also including actress Aidee Walker from TV drama Outrageous Fortune – have all had personal experiences with depression and suicide.
Percival’s fiance took his life after a long battle with depression and Kennedy suffered from post-natal depression after the birth of her third child.
The riders hope to raise $50,000-plus for a Mindfulness in Schools programme aimed at giving youth the skills to deal with their emotions before they become a problem.
The riders have also raised about that much again to support their ride.
Last month Percival and Kennedy raised $12,500 from an art auction in Arrowtown that was MC’ed by Walker.
The riders will also speak at schools along the way to educate young NZers about mental well-being.
Some 1.5 people take their lives every day in NZ.
Last year’s inaugural Ride out of the Blue event raised $30,000 for the Mental Health Foundation.