While the Woodville Lions are largely giving the weather the credit for a good turnout at the coast to coast motorcycle ride, the riders are claiming the well-organised, enjoyable event is what brings so many of them back time and time again.
Almost 400 riders roared into the small settlement of Himitangi Beach last Saturday to take part in the 21st annual Woodville Lions Coast to Coast, the district's longest-running fundraising event for the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter.
The ride starts from Himitangi Beach and travels over the Pahiatua Track, before joining in the Woodville Christmas Parade, stopping for lunch and then heading to Akitio for the finale, which includes prizes and spot prizes. Many riders make a weekend of it, staying at the beach and travelling home on Sunday.
Margaret McKinnon, a retired midwife, has been on the ride several times and on Saturday was wearing her "original hat", a snazzy blue corduroy number from one of the early rides.
"As a midwife I called the rescue helicopter out quite a few times," she says.
"I can tell you there isn't a lot of room to deliver a baby in the front of a Squirrel.
"But being a health professional in a remote area it was essential to have that back-up."
Peter Davies, store manager for RD1 Pahiatua, was in one of the sponsors' seats in the helicopter for the day, along with Suzuki NZ representative Teppei Harada.
"We were approached to become sponsors of the Coast to Coast and I thought it might only be for a year or so," Mr Davies says. "Now we're in our 12th year of sponsorship - RD1 provides all the food for the riders when they stop for lunch in Woodville.
"As part of the Pahiatua Volunteer Fire Brigade I am grateful to have the rescue helicopter backing us up. Rural lives depend on it."
Woodville Lions said this year's ride made $11,000 for the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter.
That takes the total over the 21 years to $145,000 for the rescue helicopter.
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