Grateful bikers helping a cause
South Otago builder David Latta will be pushing pedals for a cause tomorrow, when he takes on the seventh annual Westpac Chopper Appeal bike ride from Queenstown to Invercargill.
The former Otago rugby captain joins Southlander and Commonwealth Games cycling gold medallist Glenn McLeay and 60 other riders taking part in the nationwide chopper appeal month, to raise funds for their local rescue helicopter.
It will be the first time Latta has taken part in the 236km event. He will ride alongside his brotherin-law and former Balclutha man Scott Milne of Invercargill, who was injured in a hunting trip in Milford Sound 10 years ago, and needed to be flown by helicopter to hospital.
‘‘He spent a night in the bush while his mate went to get help,’’ Latta said. ’’He probably owes his life to the chopper.’’
Latta said he will never forget the drive down to Te Anau with Scott’s father Garry Milne of Balclutha, expecting the worst but hoping for the best.
By some miracle, although he had a punctured lung and broken bones from his overnight ordeal in the bush, Scott survived.
‘‘Doing the ride probably brings back those memories that he wants to forget, but it’s a way of showing gratitude in recognition of what they [the rescue chopper] did for him, and do, for so many others.’’
Twenty years later, Scott is heavily involved in cycling and runs a dairy farm near Invercargill, where his wife is in a law firm.
Scott persuaded Latta to put his name in a ballot to be selected for the ride.
‘‘I was hoping it wouldn’t be me they picked out,’’ he joked. However, he thinks it will be ’’a good brother-in-law thing to do together’’.
No stranger to long distance bike rides - he’s ridden from Balclutha to Wanaka twice in his life - Latta rode the bike section in the multisport event, Challenge Wanaka, in February, which he has done for the last four years. This was in between two knee surgeries over the last few years.
‘‘Cycling is an ideal sport to recover from surgery.’’
It was also the ideal stressrelease activity, he said.
The public can support the riders and chopper trust by donating at givealittle.co.nz/cause/ qt2invbikeride.