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Wheelie long ride for WaiWaste

An intrepid Greytown man is, this week, embarking on his third endurance bike ride for charity, this time the “physically arduous” Kōpiko – a 960km trek across the widest part of Te Ika-a-Māui, Aotearoa’s North Island – with two brave friends.

Leadership coach David Savage, graphic artist Geoff Francis, and photographer Chris Dickinson [who is travelling from his home in Singapore to take part], are undertaking the “huge challenge” to raise funds and awareness for Wairarapa food rescue agency WaiWaste.

“So much food is dumped, and so many people are experiencing food poverty,” Savage, affectionately known as Sav, said.

“We thought bikepacking for WaiWaste would help shine a light on what this epic charity does for our community. We’ve initially set a target to raise $1000, but we want to blow that right out of the water.”

Bikepacking is a blend of all-terrain cycling and backpacking, and according to Sav, there’s quite an art to travelling light.

“Chris is quite an experienced expedition kind of guy, but this is the first time he’s ever bikepacked. And we are really going to laugh at him because he’s brought way too much stuff!”

Sav is no stranger to fundraising – or punishing bike rides.

Last year, Sav tackled the Sounds to Sounds trail, a 16-day, 1600km route from Marlborough Sounds to Milford Sounds, to raise money for flood-hit food rescue hubs in Gisborne and Hawkes Bay following Cyclone Gabrielle.

But his love of long bike rides started in 2021, when with pedalling pals Mike Smith and Pete Sutherland, he bikepacked the 3000km Tour Aotearoa trail, from Cape Reinga to Bluff, to fundraise for a charity close to his heart – the Neurological Foundation.

“I have a condition called Multi-Focal Motor Neuropathy,” Sav explained. “It slowly wastes muscle in various parts of the body, and there’s no cure yet.”

“It’s really quite rare – I’m one of about 50 New Zealanders who have it. I get regular three weekly infusions of white blood cells which slows the progress.

“Bike packing is a way of using my body now while I can, given it may not work as it should in the future.”

The Kōpiko adventure will bring Sav’s total kilometres travelled on trails to over 5500km, clocking up over 40 days in the saddle [not including “the months of training”] – and “fingers crossed”, raising more than $16,000 for good causes.

While not as long as the last two rides, the Kōpiko is “not for slouches”, Sav said.

“It involves 13,000 metres of climbing – that’s nearly one and a half Mount Everests – and it’s fairly remote and mainly off-road.

“I’m quite good at crashing and not breaking any bones, so I’m hoping I can use that special skill this time around,” he said.

Not content with cycling the formal Kōpiko route from the East Cape in Gisborne to the West Cape in Taranaki, Sav’s trail trio are “adding on a couple of days”, starting their feat as soon as they get off the plane at Gisborne Airport.

“The courier company wanted over $1000 to get us and our bikes to the beginning of the route. We thought we’d save that money and get to the official start under our own steam,” Sav said.

Riding the Kōpiko is expected to take Sav, Francis and Dickinson about 11 days.

To find out more about David Savage’s adventure, and make a donation, visit https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/riding-kopiko-for-food-rescue, where you can find a link to a live map of the team’s progress.

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