Group with disabilities to cycle round mountain

Cycling around Mt Taranaki has always been a dream for Bob Knox.

The New Plymouth man plans to fulfil it alongside a group from Parafed Taranaki who are training for the 150-kilometre Around Mt Taranaki Cycle Ride on January 12.

Parafed is an organisation that runs in association with Sport Taranaki.

Its aim is to inspire people with physical disabilities to achieve equality, excellence, and wellbeing through sport and recreation.

A few years ago, Mr Knox bought a bike with the intention of completing the event. However, in September 2010 he fell off a roof and ended up in Burwood Spinal Unit.

Now a paraplegic, Mr Knox said he sold his bike thinking his chances to compete in the race were over.

That was until he got talking to Sergeant George White, of New Plymouth, who encouraged him to get back on the bike.

Mr Knox said the event was a chance for him to keep his dream alive.

"It's a part of fulfilling something I wanted to do before my accident and in a way it's part of my recovery. It's about getting out of bed in the morning."

Joining Mr Knox is paralympian Nathan Smith, Stephen Hills, Shane Hall, Kirsty Fairhurst, Andrew Fleming and support riders Chris Williams and Mr White.

Parafed sport development officer Jake Mills said the event was a perfect opportunity for people to challenge themselves.

"We deal with physical disabilities and we want to get a range of disabilities together to ride together.

"We're just trying to promote equality, and if we can get more riders involved, that would be great," he said.

Event director Peter Bennett said entry numbers for the event were looking strong and he expected a better turnout than last year.

The Bone Collector category, which the Parafed team will compete in, was proving the most popular.

"That's our biggest growth area by far," he said.

A new four-rider time trial race is also set to be introduced this year and will be the only competitive aspect of the event.

"We're trying to create a bit of a competitive challenge with that one. We'd love to get businesses challenging other businesses."

Mr Bennett said he was thrilled to have Parafed Taranaki on board.

"This is something we love to see because they don't always get these opportunities all the time."

Mr Knox said there was no doubt he needed to pull finger with his training if he wanted to achieve his dream.

"I'm 62 years old so it's going to be a challenge. I went out with Kirsty the other day and she left me for dead.

"I'm going to have to get serious about it."

Taranaki Daily News