Dead rider 'hero' in his community

The 63-year-old Whangarei man who died after a heart attack in the Wairarapa stage of a Wellington to Auckland cycle race last weekend has been described as a man who loved life.

Michael Springford, who owned LJ Hooker Whangarei, was competing in the Wellington-to-Auckland Cycle Challenge last Sunday.

He was riding the second stage of the challenge, from Featherston to Masterton, when he suffered a heart attack.

LJ Hooker New Zealand general manager Keith Niederer said Mr Springford was an extremely accomplished man who didn't need to work any more but continued because he loved real estate.

"He's a local hero in his community, known for his generous support of local charities and causes. Michael has always been the local lad you could rely on, no matter what. He loved people. He loved his family. He loved life," he said.

Act MP John Banks said Mr Springford had called him before the ride on Sunday.

"I'm heartbroken. It's incomprehensible to lose someone like Mike. He seemed indestructible," he told the Northern Advocate.

Up to 150 cyclists rode in the challenge, including some from Wairarapa.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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