10th bike ride to raise funds for rescue chopper

Training is well under way for cyclists Andrew Moreton (left) and Reece McDonald who will take part in the Westpac Chopper Bike Ride next month.

ABOUT 100 cyclists, including Sir John Kirwan and three Black Spokes, will set off on their two-wheeled machines next month to raise money for the Lakes District Air Rescue Trust.

Cyclists Andrew Moreton, who has taken part eight of the nine previous rides, and Reece McDonald, who will be taking part in his eighth, will be among the many who will ride 247km from Queenstown to Invercargill in one day.

Moreton, one of the six who took part in the first ride, said the idea came after Westpac decided there was a better way of fundraising for the trust than making cheese rolls.

“We did six training rides to ride 150km,” Moreton said.

“We were a bit under done.”

He admits he just about cried during that first ride, but it raised $6000.

The race had changed distance since then.

After watching the Tour de France, it was decided they would ride longer than the longest stage of the international race.

“The only problem is the biggest stage kept getting bigger and bigger,” Moreton said.

McDonald is one of six riders taking part who has used the services of the rescue chopper.

A heart attack about two years ago, saw him being flown from Invercargill to Dunedin to get a lifesaving stent put in.

“It was a foggy day too, so they had to take the long way,” he said.

He didn’t realise quite how lucky he was, until a visit to the hospital to get checked out again about a week later, when he bumped into a nurse who had treated him on his initial visit.

“She said I’d see you ever again’.”

This year cyclists will be joined by Sir John, his son Luca and cyclists with pedigree; Aaron Gate who won bronze in the team pursuit at the 2012 London Olympics, Dylan McCullogh, who came third in the under-23 New Zealand cycling time trial champs and Campbell Stuart, who won the Omnium World Championships in 2019.

They will ride from Frankton to Riversdale, where they will stop at the school for lunch, which is always supplied by Brethren church group Rapid Relief, and where the chopper will fly in for a visit.

The pack will then proceed to Gore, Te Tipua and Dacre before reaching their final destination at the Westpac Bank in Invercargill about 4.30pm.

The cyclists will be supported by technicians from Wensley’s Cycles in Invercargill.

The following night participants will join friends and members of the community at the Westpac Chopper Ball where auctions will raise further money.

The hope this year is to raise $120,000 in the 10th annual ride which pays for vital equipment used by rescue helicopters in the southern region.

  • Donations can be made at the Westpac Chopper Appeal Bike Ride 2021 Givealittle page. About 70 tickets are also available for the ball on May 8. To buy, email westpacchopperball@gmail.com