Go­ing the dis­tance for the kids

Waihi Leader - - News - By GABRIELLA FRASER

A 70-year-old Athen­ree man has taken a long cy­cling ad­ven­ture to raise funds for suf­fer­ers of a im­paired vi­sion prob­lem.

Kevin Evans cy­cled 3000km in Fe­bru­ary from Cape Reinga to Bluff along the Te Ara Road Trail to fundraise for the Irlen Syn­drome Re­cov­ery Pro­gramme at Katikati Pri­mary School. Irlen Syn­drome is an eye per­cep­tion disor­der which af­fects the brain’s abil­ity to process vis­ual in­for­ma­tion, cre­at­ing dis­tor­tions.

Kevin trained all year, cov­er­ing more than 4000km to pre­pare for his jour­ney.

Cy­cle Te Ara Roa is known as a Brevet ride — a ride over a pre­de­ter­mined course with check­points at dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions through­out the coun­try.

“The slower you go the more you see,” Kevin said.

He had to take 30 pho­to­graphs at set lo­ca­tions to ver­ify he that he had done the ride.

Rid­ers aim to com­plete the course within spec­i­fied time lim­its and are ex­pected to be self­suf­fi­cient be­tween con­trol points.

Alone with his 15kg bike — a Scott hard-tailed 29er — he car­ried 8kg of kit with his tent and sleep­ing bag. The choice of equip­ment for such a jour­ney is crit­i­cal, he said. He fol­lowed a man­ual a course that took him off the beaten track with many de­tours along the way. He car­ried a spot tracker for safety and to ver­ify that he had stayed on course. He rode 3000km along cy­cle trails and back­coun­try roads through stun­ning scenery and chal­leng­ing ter­rain. His days were of­ten 12 hours of rid­ing and in to­tal it took him 25 days and five hours, he said.

The weather was on his side — in 25 days he only wore his storm jacket twice. There were 600 reg­is­tered rid­ers, and 100 started with Kevin, who was in the last re­lease. The fastest fin­ished the ride in 10 days and one minute rid­ing 309km a day.

Kevin said the more chal­leng­ing parts of the course in­cluded steep ter­rain, floods and icy cold wind and sleet. Ninety Mile Beach was the hard­est 100km he had ever rid­den. Haast Pass was one of the worst days rid­ing up­hill in sleet and he then got cold rid­ing down­hill, he said. Fac­ing the flooded Whanganui river was an­other chal­lenge.

“One of the joys of the ride is that you have no idea what was hap­pen­ing in the world. You live in an iso­lated co­coon of bik­ing that you live and breathe for 25 days,” he said.

Reach­ing his des­ti­na­tion, Bluff, he felt “over­whelmed with a sense of well-be­ing”.

Kevin was pre­sented with a medal by In­ver­cargill mayor Tim Shad­bolt.

Will he do it again? “No — I don’t need to,” he said, but “ev­ery­thing went well and I didn’t hurt my­self.”

Kevin raised more than $4000 for his char­ity. His daugh­ter also set up a Givealit­tle page which raised $2200 and Apata ki­wifruit com­pany matched the money raised. Waihi Beach Fo­cus also do­nated, and Kevin vis­ited the group last month to talk about his ad­ven­ture. The pro­ceeds will help fund a screen­ing pro­gramme for Year 3 chil­dren at Katikati Pri­mary School and a teacher trained in this area.

PHOTO / SUPPLIED.

Kevin Evans of Athen­ree, 70, cy­cled 3000km across New Zealand.

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