Cyclists travelling down North Island

By Imran Ali

Joes Garage Charity Cycle Riders leave Whangarei on their way to Wellsford. Photo / John Stone
Joes Garage Charity Cycle Riders leave Whangarei on their way to Wellsford. Photo / John Stone

Northland farmers suffering from depression and anxiety are among thousands expected to benefit from a charity run covering the length of the North Island which hopes to raise $150,000.

A group of 33 bike enthusiasts based in Taranaki, including six women, set off from Cape Reinga on Sunday for a 1400-kilometre, nine-day ride which finishes at Cape Palliser, the southernmost point of the North Island south-east of the Wairarapa Coast, on Tuesday. They called into Whangarei on Tuesday.

Organiser Darrel Nicholas said six riders from New Plymouth started on a charity run 18 months ago before they decided on a bigger ride in the South Island with an aim to raise $20,000. Instead, he said 26 riders completed their fundraiser and gave $170,000 towards rural depression.

Mr Nicholas said 80 per cent of the 33 riders or their family and friends have been directly or indirectly impacted by depression at some stage in their lives.

"We know each other through sports and business. This group has collectively lost 150 kilos just by riding so the health benefits have been amazing. The other benefit is camaraderie," he said.

The riders did 70km on Sunday and were expected to do 165km from Kerikeri to Wellsford on Tuesday.

They stopped over at Northland Farm Source on Kioreroa Rd for a break and to spread awareness on mental health issues. Money raised will go to the Rural Support Trust, Life Education Trust, and Taranaki Retreat.

"Depression is an illness, not a weakness. The aim of the ride is to ride, talk and create awareness about that illness," Mr Nicholas said.

Northland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Julie Jonker said depression among farmers was a big issue especially with a lower milk payout.

"It's a clinical thing which is no different to diabetes or asthma and we try to put in place measures where farmers can call and talk about it."

She said a successful collaboration dinner organised last year brought together people associated with the farming sector to discuss issues such as depression.

- Those wishing to donate can do so on Givealittle under joesgaragecharitycycleriders.

- Northern Advocate

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