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Cycling for spinal research

Catriona Williams leading the pack in Masterton on Sunday. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Health and fitness vital

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Octogenarian John Winkie rode about 60km on his 80-year-old Duckett bicycle from Masterton to Martinborough on Sunrday, raising funds for the CatWalk Trust founded by Wairarapa woman Catriona Williams.

The 80-year-old is cycling to raise $80,000 for the trust, which supports research into a cure for spinal injuries.

Winkie holds the title of Masters World Mountain biking champion and invented the Keywin Speed Pedal – the ‘twist-out release’ principle.

He did the Wairarapa ride as a warm-up for one of New Zealand’s toughest one-day road races – the Miles Continental Le Race 2020, held in the South Island.

Although the event has been cancelled due to covid-19, Winkie said he would still be riding the Duckett bike over the alpine peaks of Banks Peninsula from Christchurch to Akaroa on Saturday, September 19.

He said the Le Race cycle challenge was nothing compared with the daily mental and physical “mountains” that people with spinal injuries climbed in their rehabilitation.

“My friend is currently recovering from serious spinal injuries in Burwood Spinal Unit [Canterbury] and receiving incredible help,” Winkie said.

“The charities supporting spinal research and rehabilitation need all the financial support they can get and I wanted to help them in some way and I figured if I could get people to sponsor me riding Le Race, then that would be a good challenge in my 80th year.

“I think many people tend to let go of their fitness and I want to show that remaining fit and healthy as you age is important and cycling is great as you can enjoy it at any age anywhere.”

Williams rode her bike with him with about 20 other people.

It took the squad, which included Wairarapa people, about two hours to do the ride.

Williams, a former Olympic equestrian rider, broke her neck when she was 31 years old, [18 years ago] which left her unable to use her legs and little sensation in her hands.

She now runs Little Avondale Stud in Masterton where Sunday’s event began.

She said the weather was great and finishing up at the Martinborough Hotel for a beverage was “awesome”.

Winkie and the cycling team were catching the ferry across Cook Strait today and heading to Christchurch.

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