The cycle team at Russell B’s cafe in Kohukohu before heading to Kaipara where they caught a boat across the harbour

Cycling for chopper

by Ann van Engelen

In support of the Northland Rescue Helicopter, six friends recently cycled from Cape Reinga to Bluff to raise funds for the much-needed service. 

Whangarei’s Rob Meadows set out to ride the length of New Zealand along with five friends to raise money for the service.

“The tour was self-funded by each rider. We wound our way from the Cape to Pouto Peninsula where we put ourselves and our cycles on a boat to cross the harbour,” says Rob.

“Seven days and 800km into a 3,000km ride, heading downhill on a gravel road in Pureora Forest Park near Taupo, my front wheel hit a pothole, and I went flying.

“An hour later, I was en route to Waikato Hospital aboard the Greenlea Rescue Chopper — what irony.”

Rob happens to work for Northpower. The company has not only sponsored the service since day one back in 1988 but also manages the annual fundraising appeal to help generate additional funds from our community. 

“I am now recovering from a broken collar bone and broken ribs but still have something to smile about. I plan to complete the ride in its entirety in two years’ time and again raise money for the Northland service. Meantime, I am working hard to get my fitness back up on the indoor trainer in the virtual world of Zwift.

“My mates finished the ride, and our Givealittle page passed the $5,600 mark.”

As for his unexpected adventure and a new appreciation for rescue choppers, Rob says: “When it happened I thought bugger, it is all over. Every day was an adventure, and it was so much fun. 

“The paramedics were amazing. They had actually picked up my teammate Paula’s husband, while we were doing the Timber Trail ride last year and flown him to Taupo. He broke his collar bone as well.

“The rest of my team completed the trip in 23 days and on behalf of them all I want to thank everyone who donated. You never know when you may need a rescue-chopper service, be that in Northland, or as I found out, anywhere else around the country.”