Two cyclists on Tour Aotearoa from Cape Reinga to Bluff had an emotional day yesterday, ranging from devastation to relief, after their bikes were stolen from a bed and breakfast in Whanganui.
The bikes belonging to Don Montgomery and Richard Lindsay were taken from Braemar House in Plymouth St about 3.15am yesterday. After pleas for sightings and information were shared on social media, drawing a huge response, the bikes were recovered yesterday afternoon.
Montgomery and Lindsay, with fellow tour rider Rob Dawson, had checked in to Braemar House about 10pm on Monday after a long day's ride.
"We went to bed about midnight and I woke about 3.15am and thought I heard a bike going down the driveway," Dawson said.
"I ran down the drive but didn't see anyone. Then we found some bits and pieces from the bikes on the road.
"The bikes still had all their bags attached to them with Don and Richard's property in them."
The bikes had been stored at the back of the B&B and were not locked up. Two of the three bicycles were stolen.
Pleas on social media for sightings or information drew offers of replacement bikes and help from Whanganui residents and people around the country.
"There's been amazing support from everybody," Dawson said.
"People have spread the word and the spirit of the reaction has been amazing.
"We called the police after it happened and they were there in about 10 minutes and were really helpful and thorough."
Yesterday morning, Montgomery said the disappointment was not just about the theft of the bikes.
"It's all the effort to get to the start, all the training and taking a month off work to do the event," he said.
"It's a great event. Being denied the completion is the hard thing."
However, the bikes were recovered yesterday afternoon after a woman contacted the riders. She had seen the messages and photos on Facebook and then spotted two boys riding the bikes.
"We've recovered the bikes but they have been stripped down and we have a mechanic looking at them for any damage," Montgomery said.
"The people of Whanganui have been fantastic. People have rung to offer us meals and things. It's quite humbling. It's been a very emotional day."
Lindsay, who is originally from Marton and now lives in North Canterbury, said they had appreciated the many offers to lend gear.
"Thankfully we've got the bikes back but they're missing all the important ingredients we need to get to Bluff," Lindsay said.
"I guess you could call this an enforced rest day. We hope to be able to borrow some gear and get back on the tour in the next day or two."
Lindsay said he had enjoyed the tour so far, with the section from Whakahoro to the Mangapurua Landing "undoubtedly some of the best mountainbiking in the country".
They had also enjoyed the jet boat ride to Pipiriki and sunset cycle ride down the Whanganui River Road on Monday evening.
To follow the Tour Aotearoa event, go to the Facebook page.