Charity bike ride likely to grow - organiser

19:51, Nov 18 2012

Fundraising cyclists who spent their Saturday biking from the Homer Tunnel to Invercargill plan to double the size of their team next year, and hope to see the first female cyclist joining in.

Organiser Jason Gerken said the 287 kilometre ride raised money for Southland@Heart, a charity for child heart patients.

A team of 10 cyclists left the Hollyford turnoff on Saturday morning, and as they were unable to travel from Milford Sound as the road was closed, they added a trip to Manapouri.

Ten hours later the group arrived in Invercargill, accompanied by a group which joined the ride from Winton.

It was the second year Mr Gerken had done the charity ride, although last year it was from Invercargill to Milford.

"Those of us who had done it last year remarked [Milford to Invercargill] was definitely the way to go, we did notice it was a wee bit easier," he said.

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"Despite a hailstorm from Siberia around Castle Rock which was hideous."

Mr Gerken, a hairstylist at Invercargill's Bronze Connection, was inspired to start the annual charity ride by his client Tania McKenzie's son Flynn who was "born with half a heart".

Mr Gerken decided he wanted to do something for young Flynn and all of the heart children.

He organised the ride with his "partner in crime", Steve Rhodes.

The ride was good fun, and all the riders said they would love to do it again next year, he said.

Mr Gerken hoped next year a female cyclist would join the team.

They had not yet added up the money raised from the ride and other fundraising, but he hoped it would be about $8000.

kimberley.crayton-brown@stl.co.nz

The Southland Times