Fundraising riders go to extremes

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YVONNE O’HARA

yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz

Kevin Laird’s vehicle of choice is usually a high powered rally car, but next week he and his team-mates will be driving less than 50cc’s from Christchurch to Hokitika during the Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari.

This is the sixth time the 250km safari will take place and about 250 people and their scooters have registered.

The event has raised nearly $790,000 to date for the New Zealand Cancer Society and the organisers hope to reach $1million with this year’s contributions.

Mr Laird and five friends from Central Otago, Christchurch and Wellington, will be taking turns to ride three scooters, each of 50cc or less, and driving or riding in a support van.

He will be using his own 1984 Honda Nifty Fifty, which has a top speed of about 45kmh and he will have to stop every 30km to refuel.

He said they would also be taking another scooter of indeterminate brand, which is bright yellow and has a beer crate on the back.

“We first did the safari in September 2016,” he said.

“It was a good laugh and we raised $3000.”

He said they would leave Alexandra on May 18 and start the safari on May 19 from Christchurch and they hoped to raise $1000 per scooter.

“The start is quite cool, as all 250 scooters get to do three laps around a race track at once.

“If anyone is going to break down, it is better to do it on the racetrack than the road.”

He said the trip took about eight and a-half hours.

“The other riders are little bit lighter, so they will be a little bit faster.

“The only thing I passed [last time] was a tuk-tuk.

“I sometimes have to stop to push it up hills.”

The Alexandra Auto Electrical business owner said his bike was named “Maverick”, as in the Top Gun film.

“When we stop for petrol, we are waved in using paddles, like aircraft.”

Two Wheels Unlimited, of Alexandra, has donated gloves, which will be useful, as a polar blast is predicted to hit the area about the same time.

Sponsors provide hot pies and burgers for riders along the way.

Once he unthaws from the safari, he will then concentrate on competing in the Catlins Rally in August.

If anyone wishes to give to the cause, they can go to scooter safari2018.everydayheros.com/nz/kevin

The safari website says: “It’s not a race or for the faint hearted – it is designed to be the coldest, longest, hardest, most gruelling and uncomfortable test of endurance on a city scooter to raise money and awareness for cancer sufferers.”