As a long-distance runner, Zeb is always keen for adventure. The planning, the
preparation, and the pushing of boundaries are all familiar territory in his daily life.
But when it comes to cycling, it’s fair to say he’s been a little shy of the saddle. So
what did it take to ride 300km across the epic Alps2Ocean trail?
In March this year, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand joined forces with
Oxfam Aotearoa, united by their shared vision to create a fairer, kinder world.
Together, they formed a team of everyday cyclists who generously gave their pedal
power to raise vital funds for both charities.
Zeb, Fundraising and Marketing Director at Amnesty International, saw a unique
opportunity not only to challenge his cycling stamina, but also to gather support for
key human rights issues around the world. We took a spin to talk more about his
motivation, some favourite memories, and those monumental views.
How much cycling experience did you have before the Alps2Ocean ride?
Not much! I’m definitely more of a runner than a cyclist, so my cycling experience
was mostly limited to the short and occasional commute to work. The idea of riding
for six days in a row was more than a little bit daunting! So I’m particularly grateful to
my friends and whānau, whose encouragement and donations really helped me to
overcome that anxiety.
Did you train for the event?
Given my reservations, I did decide to train for the trip. That turned out to be one of
the unexpected benefits of taking on this challenge – you can get much further
cycling than you can when running, so I really enjoyed the opportunity to explore
new places around Auckland on my wheels.
The Alps2Ocean trail is graded at either 2 (easy) or 3 (intermediate) across the
whole 300km, which means its suitable for anyone – even if you don’t have heaps of
cycling experience. There’s the option to ride on an e-bike which is awesome, and
definitely helps with the occasional incline!
What did you most enjoy about the adventure?
I can wholeheartedly say it was a trip of a lifetime! The ride, the scenery, and team
all made it an amazing experience – and even more special to be riding for human
rights. As the name suggests, the Alps2Ocean trail traverses truly stunning scenery, from
native bush and rolling farmland, into World Heritage-listed national parks.
But for me, the most enjoyable aspect of the trip was getting to know like minded
adventure-seekers and witnessing their dedication to making the world a better
place. There were plenty of pit stops along the way to share a meal and swap our fundraising stories. The things that people had done to raise support were just amazing!
What was one of the most challenging aspects of the ride?
The time on the bike was definitely the most challenging aspect for me. By day four
my backside was feeling it, but I was pleased to have done some back-to-back rides
through my training to build up that saddle stamina. The itinerary helped too, with the
last couple of days much easier as you cruise towards the coast. And of course, the
stunning views were pleasantly distracting when the going got tough!
Are there any standout memories from this year’s trip?
I have loads of amazing memories, but to mention just a few: the excitement of our
start at the Church of the Good Shepard beside a sparkling Lake Tekapo, and the
bracing swim in a deep stream on the trail where a few of us brave (or slightly crazy!)
teammates dove into the rather chilly pool. Dinner on the last night was also super
special as we reflected on the awesome journey we had experienced together.
Reaching the finish in Oamaru, and having our team picture with the coast behind
us, was the icing on an already amazing cake. The ride was such a success that Amnesty International will be cycling the track next year.
What would you say to someone thinking of getting involved?
Whatever your level of cycling experience, you absolutely want to be part of this!
There is heaps of support available for reaching the fundraising target, and
committing to a challenge like this is a great opportunity to start meaningful
conversations about the things that really matter in life.
The funds raised through next year’s adventure will go towards Amnesty’s campaign
to raise the age of criminal responsibility – a key change that would bring our country
in line with international human rights recommendations. Currently, kids as young as
10 years old can be held criminally responsible in Aotearoa, which is four years
younger than the recommended minimum age. Together with our dedicated
supporters, Amnesty International is calling for the government to raise the age of
criminal responsibility to at least 14.
Many of us learned to ride a bike as children, and by joining next year’s Alps2Ocean
journey, you can help bring hope to kids across the motu. This trip is one of the most
scenic cycle trips in Aotearoa, and what better way to explore our beautiful country
than to do so while making it a fairer place to live.
Thanks to guest blogger Frankie from Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand for writing this blog. Frankie is the media and communications advisor and when she’s not riding her bike, she’s usually writing about rights. Read more about the work of Amnesty International here.