‘Team Squeeze’ as they set off on the 270km bike ride, they are from left; Philip Palmer, Sally Ogilvie, Graham Snadden, Willem Stein, Ned Barraud, Simon Biss and Karen MacIntosh. Photo: Supplied.

Group bikes for Africa

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After a recent trip to India Graham Snadden was so confronted by the conditions that many faced, he decided to put the wheels in motion to make a difference.

An avid cycler, Graham put the call out to anyone who would be interested in a 270km ride to raise funds for World Bicycle Relief.

“People ask me if I found the trip to India fun, but I actually didn’t find it fun at all.

“I’d never really confronted so much poverty and the degradation of the environment in India, it really affected me.

“I’m quite old now, I’m 78, so I thought I just want to do something a bit more useful in my life, I’ve got time and energy and I’m a very keen cyclist.”

He had heard that there were organisations that provide bikes to poor communities in Africa and says he felt like he “struck gold” when he came across World Bicycle Relief, which manufactures basic bikes in Africa and distributes them to children, entrepreneurs and health professionals across the continent.

“You’ve got kids who walk 8kms to school and midwives who need to see their patients. A lot of them are walking so some may only be able to see one woman in a day, but by bike they will be able to see many more.”

So on Saturday, the group of eight set out to Lake Rotoiti, where they stopped for lunch before heading along the Wairoa Valley to Renwick where they spent the night – 180kms later.

On Sunday morning, they began the journey back to Nelson confronted with a freezing southerly and the only rain the region has seen in months.

“When you start getting near home and you know the road turn by turn and we just know we’re going to do it, that’s a great feeling,” says Graham.

Together the group raised more than $4000 which will buy 22 Buffalo Bikes. The bikes are said to be the strongest in Africa – made with heavy-gauge steel, reinforced spokes and a rack ready to carry 100kg+ loads.

Graham says that the ride was a complete success and says he has no plans to continue with fundraising.

“It was so successful, and people were so generous, I think we touched people’s hearts, so we probably won’t do another.”