Cycling from Cape Reinga to Bluff for breast cancer

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CYCLING FOR A GOOD CAUSE: Emma Mackie (left) and Marie Gillies are cycling from Cape Reinga to Bluff raising money for Breast Cancer.
CYCLING FOR A GOOD CAUSE: Emma Mackie (left) and Marie Gillies are cycling from Cape Reinga to Bluff raising money for Breast Cancer.

In just seven days, two women will cycle the length of New Zealand to raise money for a cause close to both their hearts.

Yesterday Hawke's Bay resident Marie Gillies and former resident Emma Mackie got on their bikes and began their 2100km journey by cycling from Cape Reinga to Waipu - a town near Whangarei.

By this Saturday, they hope to be riding the final leg in the South Island from Palmerston to Bluff.

After chatting about the idea, in May the two decided they would ride the length of the country that the Scottish Ms Mackie and Irish Mrs Gillies now call home.

"Then we thought if we're going to do something like that we want to make it a real challenge," Mrs Gillies said. "If you did it in three or four weeks you'd easily cycle the length of New Zealand and it'd be a nice cruisy holiday, so we wanted to make it a challenge."

By undertaking the Pink Spring Spin, the two are also hoping to raise money for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation - a disease both had in their families.

Nine years ago Ms Mackie's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully, Ms Mackie said after receiving treatment she survived, and was now "thriving".

"I just really feel it's important to find a cure, to at least give other people the chance to have what my mum's got now," she said.

As the pair had called New Zealand home for the past eight years, Ms Mackie said "we just really wanted to give something back to New Zealand and raise some money for a cause that seems to be affecting a lot of women here too."

The pair - who are both physiotherapists and involved in triathalons - had been training intensely for their 2100km journey.

For Ms Mackie, now based in Auckland, this meant riding up to 20 hours a week, sometimes training twice a day, on top of swimming and running. She would then spend up six hours on the bike on the weekends.

Mrs Gillies, who had never spent more than two hours on a bike before, had been training twice a day for the past three months, with up to 5-hour rides on the bike on the weekend.

Preparing the logistics of the ride had presented its own challenges - having to find new sponsors for campervans on the journey, and having their kit caught up in Customs, with a $400 GST fine.

However with the support of their respective employers, families, training partners, and sponsors, months of work paid off when the pair were able to get on their bikes yesterday.

They will accompanied on their journey by another eight people, sharing the ride with two campervans, a van, and motorbike.

For Ms Mackie knowing there was 2100km to ride was very daunting.

"Its 42 hours," she said, "the rides a full time job for the next week sitting on my bum and pedalling, that's a bit scary."

Although it was a "huge undertaking", Mrs Gillies said they would be riding in manageable bites of three hours at a time.

"If I think about the whole ride I'd get overwhelmed but I just think I have to ride for 3 hours, and then I have a 3 hour break, and that's just how I'm going to approach it."

-If you would like to help the pair on their journey, visit https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/spingspin

- Hawkes Bay Today

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