A Queenstowner says a length-of-New Zealand cycling fundraiser that finished on Friday was “absolutely amazing”.
Kim Percival, 29, was among nine hardy Ride out of the Blue cyclists who rode from Bluff to Cape Reinga to raise funds and awareness for a school programme to tackle depression and suicide.
Percival rode the 21-day, 2300km journey in memory of her fiance Andrew Smith who took his life five years ago.
“I thought I would not be able to cope physically but my body just got stronger,” Percival says.
“I was definitely determined to do it and mentally quite strong.
“There were some riders who had really bad days and I think they had a mental battle of, ‘I can’t do this, this is too hard’.
“But I didn’t ever have a bad day – I had some not-so-great days but I just loved every minute.”
Percival says probably her hardest day was Day 11, from Paraparaumu, near Wellington, to Hunterville – “just because we’d hit the North Island”.
“I thought I’d get really tired around about Day 5 but I just completely charged the whole South Island.
“Then we hit Wellington and going through the traffic in Wellington was just crap.
“Paraparaumu to Hunterville was a big day – we were on State Highway 1 so we were all single file, we couldn’t talk to each other, there were lorries hooning past us, glass all over the road.
“To me it was a downer day because it was like, ‘Oh, if the whole North Island’s like this, then it’s going to suck’.
“But it got better, it definitely got better.”
Percival says the last day from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga was also tough because no one had told the riders about the last hilly stretch.
“We got 20km from the Cape, we had a big regroup and then we’re like, ‘We’ll ride this last leg altogether’.
“We were all completely drained, running on empty, because we were just exhausted, and there were these killer hills.
“We got to the Cape and we were all so exhausted – we ran out of water, ran out of food, we were so emotional, all bawling out eyes out.”
Pervical says the riders were greeted at the Cape by a Maori elder or kaumatua who did a powhiri for them “which was amazing”.
“Then we sang a waiata back, then we all walked down to the lighthouse and then set about taking photos.”
Percival says the riders typically finished each day between 3 and 5pm.
“We’d get to wherever we were staying, we would have a protein shake, have a shower, then we were so tired we’d end up completely delirious and in this crazy hysteria where we’d just laugh for a couple of hours and then all fall asleep.”
Percival’s fellow riders included two other Queenstowners, Rachel Kennedy, and Hugh Rouse, who joined them to do the Garston to Wanaka leg then ended up accompanying them the whole way.
Percival says the riders have yet to tot up what they’ve raised.
Donations can still be made via their fundraising website