For 73-year-old Northland cyclists Dianne Neal and Lesley Parton, age is just a number.
And it certainly won't be holding them back as the pair looks to tackle the 80-kilometre track at the Lake Taupō Cycle Challenge tomorrow and they are hoping to inspire others to do the same.
Neal, a Northland District Health Board medical typist, and Parton, a Ministry of Education lead advisor, have a deep love of cycling which has developed since their childhood, using the sport as a way to keep themselves fit both physically and mentally.
"It's my drug," Neal said, a grin growing across her face.
Tomorrow's Lake Taupō Cycle Challenge would be Neal's 16th and Parton's 10th, between which the pair had cycled over much of the North Island together after meeting for the first time at a Marsden Wheelers Road Cycling Club meet in 2009.
"One day Lesley came and I introduced myself and she said something about being born in 1946 and I said, 'Me too'," Neal said.
"So we started riding and suddenly I had this person to ride with."
From there, blossomed a true friendship which now saw the pair riding up to four times a week and covering about 150kms. Even the cold and rainy months of winter didn't put them off as they simply switched the road bike for a spin class.
But Neal and Parton's bond stretched further than just a shared age and a love of cycling. Both women have lost loved ones, with Parton's husband passing away almost 14 years ago and Neal's just three months ago.
Neal said when her husband Les - who also loved cycling - first fell ill, it impaired her ability to even finish the Sunday rides with the Marsden Wheelers club.
"When [Les] first got sick, I'd go out with these guys and I just couldn't do it, I'd get halfway up the hill and say, 'No, I'm going back'," she said.
"I wasn't in the right headspace and then when he got really sick, something made me just do it.
"I don't know what changed, suddenly I just felt I had to do this ... on the bike, it was a release and it's wonderful."
With Parton's support, Neal was now more convinced than ever that cycling was her way of putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.
"[Les] always encouraged me to cycle, he loved it so this has kept me feeling good, getting on my bike rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself."
Parton, a former Poroti School principal and marathon runner, was no stranger to life on the road after travelling much of Vietnam on her bike. However, Parton said she was looking forward to another trip around Lake Taupō.
"I've seen a bit of the world on a bike," she said with a chuckle.
"[Taupō] is not an easy ride but it's got some form of inspiration to see so many other cyclists doing it."
Despite surviving a broken leg after slipping on a boat ramp in Paihia training for the Kerikeri half-marathon, Parton's love for physical exercise was still strong.
"I think it's inspired me to keep fit, I just found I was a much better teacher and leader of a school when I was fit and it had that thinking time, [it was] therapeutic."
Now, as the pair contemplated their future in cycling, their answer was resolute.
"Sometimes I come home from my ride and I just feel so good and I think, 'How long can I keep doing this' and then I think, 'Don't even ask that, just do it'," Neal said.
"I just think if we can inspire somebody to get off the couch and use the great walking and biking tracks [in Whangārei], that would be great."