Central Otago’s symbiotic relationship with cycling stretches back further than the trails it inspired and Allen Henderson has borne witness to its growth.
It may come as a surprise to some who relate cycling in the region with the trail that inspired the creation of the New Zealand Cycle Trail network.
The Otago Central Rail Trail and the subsequent spinoff trails were created in the decades that followed the closure of old railway line between Clyde and Middlemarch in 1990.
Mr Henderson predates the spread of the cycling trails by about 14 years when he and his wife Glenys set up Henderson Cycle & Mower Centre in Alexandra in 1986.
Last week, the couple handed over the reins of the Centennial Ave business to new owners Geoff and Lisa Hunt.
Thirty-five years was a long innings Mr Henderson said, but the history of the business itself actually encompassed about 80 years, originally existing as Williams Cycles in Limerick St.
That site was prone to flooding and it was the 1999 flood in particular that prompted the move to the present site in 2002, he said.
The 67-year-old was reticent about the move to step back, but would keep a hand in the business to ease the transition for the new owners.
“I’m old enough to retire, I was 32 when I bought it, it has been a big part of my life.”
Retirement would offer him the opportunity to take holidays, something he had been reluctant to do in the past, as well as spend more time with his eight grandchildren.
Mr Hunt said taking over the business had been an ongoing process as he had been learning the ropes before the official takeover date on Tuesday last week.
“It’s been a big learning learning curve.”
He was excited for what the future held for the business.