KERYN Kean is a self-confessed novice when it comes to cycling and admits to being daunted by what she has signed up to.
However, it is the cause and a fitness goal which has prompted the Invercargill woman to take on a ride from Queenstown to Invercargill this week.
Ms Kean will be one of the 60 riders who will take part in the annual Westpac Helicopter Appeal ride on Friday.
This year will be the eighth time the ride has been organised. More than $350,000 has been raised for the Lake Districts Air Rescue Trust, which operates helicopters out of Te Anau and Queenstown.
Riders will set off at Frankton at 6am with the plan to arrive at Westpac’s Kelvin St branch in Invercargill at 4.45pm.
The convoy will make short stops at various schools along the way.
It was a only a year ago Ms Kean signed up for the Gutbuster mountain bike event as a fitness challenge.
By January, despite never spending any extended period of time riding a road bike, she decided to put her name forward for this year’s Westpac Helicopter Appeal ride.
“It is combining a personal challenge of pushing myself physically and increasing my fitness, with an amazing cause,” she said.
“None of us know when we might need the helicopter. Especially if you are active and getting out there in Southland on your bike or running, any of us could need the helicopter.”
The aim is for each of the 60 riders to raise $1000. Ms Kean was pleased to say she had surpassed that target and was thankful for the support, in particular her colleagues at Southland Real Estate who had donated generously.
Preparing for the ride had been time consuming, with Ms Kean often spending between 12 and 16 hours a week on the bike.
She is one of the few riders who will take part for the first time this year and said the more experienced riders had been very supportive during the preparation.
Westpac Invercargill branch manager Phil Taylor is the only rider who has taken part in all seven rides and will be back for the eighth event next Friday.
Organisers tweak the course each year and this year it will see riders turn off at Lumsden and head towards Eastern Southland before they end up in Invercargill to finish the 245km ride.
Donations can be made online at https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/westpac-chopper-appeal