Colin Roberts of Rodney Sports, pictured right, with Merv Huxford. Rodney Sports donated $500.
Orewa accountant Merv Huxford decided that lockdown was the perfect time to take on a bike ride that would otherwise be too dangerous.
Initially, the ride was a personal challenge but along the way it turned into a fundraiser that has so far brought in more than $14,000 for the mental health support services of Youth In Transition Charitable Trust.
For some time Merv had wanted to cycle from his small farm east of Kaiwaka, almost 80km back to Orewa. However, he says the route along SH1 was simply too dangerous for a cyclist, due to heavy traffic – until the country reached Alert Level 4 and the traffic dropped away.
“We had essential service farming status so we could drench the sheep and pick our olive crop during the lockdown,” Merv says. “The ride back was instead of driving, so I was waved through the two Police stops on the way.”
Although the 70-year-old is a competitive hockey player, and keeps himself fit and active, his last big cycle ride was in 2004 when he rode across New Zealand from Opunake to East Cape.
He chose to cycle back from Kaiwaka, rather than start in Orewa, because he thought it involved fewer hill climbs, but says this backfired.
“I discovered that the three hardest hills were at the Pohuehue Viaduct, Johnson’s Hill and then Waiwera Hill,” he says.
He left at dawn and the ride took six-and-a-half hours.
Along the way, the lack of traffic created some beautiful moments.
“At the start, I came up a hill alongside a paddock and kept hearing a pattering noise. I thought it was animals chasing me along the fenceline but then realised it was the sound of dewdrops dripping down from the leaves. Who would have thought it would ever be quiet enough to hear that on SH1?” he says.
Offers of donations from supporters along the way turned the ride into a fundraiser.
The amount ramped up when the Auckland Private Education Charitable Trust, which Merv is a trustee of, pledged $200 for every $10 donation that came in, capped at $10,000. As we go to print, the total raised is currently $14,028.
Merv is a founding Trustee of Youth in Transition and says the money will go towards paying counsellors. He says more than 300 young people have already been assisted through the programme since it began on the Coast four years ago.
“People are still coming in and giving me money,” Merv says.
If you would like to contribute, visit www.youthintransition.org.nz