In August 2018 Polly Thomas' long-time friend Patricia Weiss lost her life to breast cancer.
Now the Whangārei woman has decided to take a break from everyday life and her job, and spend time remembering her 25-year friendship with Weiss while cycling the length of New Zealand.
By doing so, Thomas will be raising funds for Sweet Louise, a charity that supports people who are diagnosed with breast cancer and helped Weiss during her disease.
"I don't know if I'm actually going to be able to finish the tour but what I know is Patrich [Patricia Weiss] will be with me along the way, literally along with me. I am taking some of her ashes, so I won't ever be alone," Thomas said.
"She was such a beautiful, special friend to me and I am honoured to be able to do this ride in memory of her and to be able to give back to Sweet Louise. In her final year, Patricia truly appreciated all of the little things that Sweet Louise did to help make life a little easier such as vouchers, morning tea, meetings and emotional support."
Thomas' journey is part of the Tour Aotearoa event which is joined by nearly 1000 bike-enthusiasts riding a 3000km trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff throughout February and March.
Thomas started on March 3 and had already made it past Tokoroa by yesterday afternoon.
She said she planned 30 days for the entire trail as she didn't want to rush the journey.
"I want to have time to stop along the way and talk to people."
Weiss' husband and daughter Rosetta, who is also Thomas' goddaughter, will join Thomas for a few miles along the road.
Weiss' eldest daughter Emara is very artistic and has added a beautiful orange gerbera flower – her mother's favourite flower and colour – to the front of the shirt Thomas is biking in.
Thomas isn't the only Northland to join the Tour Aotearoa; on February 18 a group of six – Mike Waymouth, Jane Sweeney, Rob Meadows, Liz Davies, Paula Lang, and John Lengyel – started their cycling adventure at Cape Reinga.
As of Tuesday afternoon, they made it as far as Arrowtown, leaving them a mere 300km to cycle.
The group is raising funds for the Northland Rescue Helicopter and if everything goes to plan, they should reach Bluff by Friday, March 13, completing the trip in 25 days.
To support Thomas and donate to Sweet Louise, visit facebook.com/Patrishs-Memorial-Ride-108191974030235/.
To track the location of all cyclists, visit touraotearoa2020.maprogress.com/?bib=rdm&justme=yes&showPath=yes&showMarkerHistory=yes.