Ben's big ride south raises $7000 for Make-A-Wish kids
Ex-Marlborough man Ben Walker cannot pin down what put the idea into his head to cycle the length of the country in two weeks with no training.
The 26-year-old completed his odyssey in Bluff on Thursday having raised $7000 for the children's charity Make-A-Wish, a foundation that grants a wish to children with life threatening medical conditions.
"I was coming home and had not spent much time in the country for the past five years and it was a good way to see the country. It was just a good physical challenge," he said.
The former Rapaura Primary School and Marlborough Boys' College student set out from Cape Reinga on November 8 and averaged 120 kilometres a day on the 2200-km ride.
He said that after finishing seven months crewing superyachts in the Mediterranean, he had intended to get a couple of weeks training in, but celebrating the end of the sailing season took priority and his best intentions to train did not materialise.
It took a couple of days for his body to adjust to the daily punishment, but, apart from a sore Achilles tendon, he did not sustain any injuries, he said.
Mr Walker rode his bike named "Red" for 10 hours a day on average, and stayed with friends and family as he made his way down the country.
But a particularly gruelling 15-hour day on November 14 saw him cycling 311 km from Havelock North to Wellington in a head-on southerly to catch an early morning ferry to Blenheim.
"That was pretty destructive. It was probably a pretty silly thing to do."
When things got tough, Mr Walker said he just put himself in the position of the children he was raising money for.
"It sounds kind of corny but they just can't take a day off when they feel crap. If they can keep on with it, then I can."
He flew back to Blenheim from Invercargill on Friday to stay with his parents.
To donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for one more week at: givealittle.co.nz/cause/benandredslongridesouth
The Marlborough Express