The Vesparados might not have quite the public profile enjoyed by some of the more notorious motorcycle gangs, but they are about to fix that. Not that they are a gang, exactly, or that it is notoriety that they're after.
They are in fact a group of nine friends who began planning a road trip on Vespa motor scooters, starting from Cape Rēinga, destination the Burt Munro Motorcycle Rally in Invercargill next month.
As last year progressed, with all its challenges, one of the group was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and is currently having ongoing chemotherapy in Whangārei, but that hasn't slowed them down.
And they won't be doing it simply for the joy of feeling the wind in their hair.
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"As plans for the road trip became more detailed, it also became apparent that here was a great fundraiser opportunity for our Far North Hospice, who assist so many people with their services," elder Vesparado Rosco Pennell said.
"So we've teamed with the Hospice, and will be sharing our adventures on the road (on Rosco's Rocky Road Facebook page) and looking for donations to this worthy cause."
The road trip will begin at Cape Rēinga tomorrow, the posse (not all on Vespas - only a 'step-through' was needed to qualify) making its first stop at June Dampney House, in Matthews' Ave at 3pm (or thereabouts, dependent on a head or tail wind) for an 'official' start, sharing with Hospice and a blessing to send them on their way.
The plan is to cross Cook Strait (on a ferry) on week (February 2), and to reach Invercargill eight days later.
"We'll be staying at country pubs along the way, via as many back roads as possible, and there will be serious Hospice bucket rattling in the evenings, and whenever the opportunity arises," Rosco said.
Donations could also be made to Far North Hospice via the ASB account No 12-3096-0166841-00, with 'Vespa' as the reference.