Iain Bibby always has his mate Yvonne with him when he goes for a bike ride.

He's the "captain" at the helm of Yvonne de Winter's tandem bike and she's the passenger.

The two go biking every week in Pāpāmoa together.

Yvonne, who is blind, is not on any free ride though. She's working as hard as her captain to navigate the streets of Pāpāmoa.


She's loving having the opportunity to get out in the sunshine.

The two have been riding together for two years. Sport Bay of Plenty has set up a Pāpāmoa cycling group called Coastal Cruisers with Iain as ride leader to get more cyclists peddling in the community.

Yvonne says people with disabilities are a new breed now.

"Gone are the days when you just stayed at home and did nothing if you had a disability. At our Blind Foundation coffee group, you would be amazed. They want to get out there and really live."

Yvonne was in a car accident at 16 in the Bay of Islands. She went through the car windshield and is completely blind aside from seeing light.

"I can see light through the window, but I can't see the window," she says. "I can do just about everything except drive a car."

Being able to ride a bicycle is "life changing," she says and she is grateful to those who make it possible.

She loves biking and being outdoors "among the trees and the birds" and enjoys the endorphins.


"It comes down to attitude. You can either be a couch potato or you can have a great life. It comes down to choices."

Yvonne is also a keen knitter, gardener, fisher, gym-goer and is addicted to travel having visited more than 40 countries. She once did a bungy jump.

"As we get older we have to keep our bones and muscles moving," she says.

Partner Dave Higson helps Yvonne out and about. But she's an independent woman and prefers to live alone as she has her garden to tend to.

She and Dave have cycled a couple of New Zealand's bike trails on the tandem bike.

Cycle partner Iain and Yvonne get together for the Coastal Cruisers ride every Thursday which can be two to three hours long.

Iain heard of Yvonne through other cycle groups and offered to take her cycling every week.

Iain was once a special needs teacher and gets a buzz out of helping others.

The keen biker is also a member of the Bay of Plenty Community Trust and would like to see more recreational cycling in the community.

The tandem bike isn't as hard as he thought it would be to manoeuvre, he says, and Yvonne is a seasoned passenger so they move well together.

"We don't communicate a lot. We don't have to," Yvonne says. "If Iain is turning right or left I can feel it. It's easy."


• The Coastal Cruisers are a new cycling group in Pāpāmoa launched in November by Sport Bay of Plenty.

•Cycling Coordinator Andrew Thorpe says the aim is to help local riders have fun, build fitness and stay safe.

•Iain is the guide ride leader trained by Sport Bay of Plenty. The Cycling New Zealand programme is called Ride Leader.

•The group is open to cyclists of all abilities. Rides are around Tauranga's reserves, bike tracks and quieter roads. Rides are suitable for hybrid, mountain and e-bikes.

•All rides will be followed by coffee. The group meets 9am every Thursday at Q Café in the Q Building, 88 Coast Boulevard.

•For details contact Sport Bay of Plenty at cycling@sportbop.nz or 021 050 1728.