Volunteer fire fighter to ride the Rainbow Rage on just one wheel

By Brittany Spencer

Nelson volunteer fire fighter Ethan Bruce is taking part in this Sunday's 106km Rainbow Rage mountainbiking race on a unicycle. Photo: Simon Bloomberg / Nelson Weekly
Nelson volunteer fire fighter Ethan Bruce is taking part in this Sunday's 106km Rainbow Rage mountainbiking race on a unicycle. Photo: Simon Bloomberg / Nelson Weekly

A volunteer fire fighter is preparing to ride the gruelling 106km Rainbow Rage mountainbiking race on just one wheel.

Unicyclist Ethan Bruce, also a volunteer with the Richmond Fire Brigade, near Nelson, is taking part in this year's Fire Fighters Sky Tower Stair Challenge in May, which raises money for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.

But he decided that he wanted to do more for the cause, so signed up for Sunday's Rainbow Rage. The race sees competitors head over the back hills between St Arnaud, which is 90 minutes south of Nelson, and Hanmer Springs.

Mr Bruce says he came up with the idea after thinking about what else he could do to raise money for the charity.

"It came up in casual conversation one day, but we ended up deciding it was a good idea and I entered the next day," he said. "I like a challenge and I like to mix it up a bit and be a little different, be that guy that everyone says is a little mad."

The Rainbow Rage has been running for 21 years, with the 2016 edition to be its last.

Mr Bruce says he did the race five years ago, but that was on two wheels. "At the end of that ride I decided I was never going to do it again, but here I am."

He says reaction to his goal has been mixed, with plenty of people questioning his sanity.

"When I tell people they just sit and stare at me, thinking I'm kidding, when they realise I'm not they just say, 'you're mad, why are you doing it'. I don't think a lot of people think I can do it but I am going to enjoy proving them wrong."

He has been training and thinks he's ready for both the physical and mental challenge, although his admits it will take a toll on his body.

"The backs of my calves will take a hammering because it's a fixed wheel with 1 to 1 ratio speed with no brakes so you are the brakes and of course, there's going to be one spot that gets a bit chaffed but it's nothing a bit of Vaseline or padding won't fix."

So far Mr Bruce has raised $600 for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand but he hopes to break the $3000 mark.

"It's such a good cause and everyone wants to beat it because cancer affects so many people."

• To support Ethan and donate to the Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand, visit firefightersclimb.org.nz, click "donate" and then select "Ethan Bruce".

- Nelson Weekly

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