Tasty dash for charity

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 12:00 22/12/2012
Tama Easton, Paul Jennings, Harry Pearson, David Bonnett and Colin Robertson
WHEELS ON WATER: Great Taste Trail riders, from front, Tama Easton, Paul Jennings, Harry Pearson, David Bonnett and Colin Robertson board the ferry at Mapua yesterday.

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Three friends have made the most of the longest day of the year, riding the full length of the Great Taste Trail to raise money for arthritis.

Yesterday, Tama Easton, Paul Jennings and David Bonnett completed their Longest Day Ride, becoming among the first to complete the more than 175-kilometre cycle trail.

The charity bike ride was to raise funds for Arthritis New Zealand. Mr Easton began the rides three years ago after he was diagnosed with reactive arthritis in his feet in 2009.

Having been "obsessive" about cycling for 20 years, he was devastated, at times thinking he would never ride again.

But cycling was a relatively low-impact sport, he said, and he found he was able to complete the challenge.

Yesterday the friends did a complete loop of the track, starting at Nelson Airport and riding the full loop, then getting the last ferry from Mapua at 5pm and ending back at the airport.

Mr Easton said yesterday the ride went really well, and he enjoyed seeing parts of Tasman district he normally would not see.

"Between Richmond and Brightwater, we were riding beautiful golden scenery through vineyards, with mountains in the background. That's the sort of experience that people fly to Europe to get, yet here we have it on our doorstep."

The only difficulty was battling through a severe head cold he picked up from his daughter earlier in the week.

He had some sleepless nights worrying about whether he could complete the ride, but decided he was committed to the cause.

He raised more than $5000, with more donations still coming in, and said there were about 200 other riders around the country doing the same. "It's going to be cool to see their adventures."

Mr Jennings said the day was a lot more pleasant than he thought it would be, with the riding separated into manageable chunks, and plenty of stops for food and drink.

As a cycle trust trustee, he had enjoyed seeing the trail in full, and had managed to see many areas for the first time.

It was likely that the group was the first to complete the entire trail, as parts of it had only opened earlier in the week, he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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