Cycling coast to coast for charity

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Three secondary school pupilsĀ are set to take on the challenge of cycling from the east coast to the west coast.

John McGlashan College year 13 pupils Patrick Zhang (16), Thomas McCracken (17) and Nathan Harrison (17) will embark on a three-day trip from Waldronville to Haast as part of the McGlashan Challenge.

The trio planned to leave today (Thursday) or tomorrow (Friday), depending on the weather.

Nathan said the McGlashan Challenge encouraged pupils to step out of their comfort zone, while raising money for charity.

It was something they had aspired to do after watching senior pupils set and complete their own challenges when they were younger.

They “tossed around” some ideas of possible challenges before deciding on the 451km cycling journey.

Patrick said they all enjoyed cycling and thought they would “take that enjoyment and use it to push us out of our comfort zone”.

They would start in Waldronville and head through Middlemarch, Ranfurly, Cromwell, Wanaka and through to Haast, using the rail trail where possible.

Thomas’ father would accompany the boys in a camper van, stocked with food and water, during their journey.

They planned to stay overnight in Ranfurly and Wanaka, although if they exceeded their daily target, would keep going until they found a safe place to stop.

They had four days to complete the three-day challenge, so could stop for a day if the weather was really bad.

“So it’s really nice and flexible, our plan,” Thomas said.

Patrick said safety was their biggest priority, so they had their bikes serviced, packed a first aid kit and a repair kit, and borrowed two satellite phones from school.

They were also using mountain bikes rather than road bikes, since they planned on riding on the rail trail and in case the roads were icy in the mornings.

They had chosen to raise money for KidsCan because they wanted to help children less fortunate than themselves.

Patrick said giving back to younger pupils and the community had been a big theme for year 13 pupils this year.

“Our dean really made an effort to encourage us to take this privilege and help improve the lives of other people.”

Thomas said in the past he had seen people who went to school without shoes or food.

“This is a really worthwhile cause, we thought, just to give back.”

“For us,” Nathan said, “I think we’re getting to the stage where we’re realising that we’re pretty set-up in life compared to other people, and we’ve got it pretty good here.”

They had received a good education, so wanted to give other people the same opportunities they had, he said.

So far, the boys have raised about $1500.

Patrick said all the funds raised would go to KidsCan, so the more they raised, the bigger difference they could make.

When The Star spoke to the boys last week, they were nervous but excited.

Patrick said most of the nerves were centred around making thorough preparations and making sure they were all healthy.

The school’s deputy principal, John Veitch, made sure all the safety aspects were “very well covered”, he said.

Nathan was confident they would be able to finish but knew it would be a challenge.

“We’re going to have to go outside our comfort zone.”

The main obstacle would be the weather but he said they were prepared to ride through most conditions, “short of the roads closing”.

To give, go to: https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/mcglashan-challenge-dunedin-to-haast