Cycling China to aid research

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Former policeman Jape Wanoa and orchardist Gary Bennetts, both of Roxburgh, intend to cycle more than 1450km from Shanghai to Beijing to raise money for type 1 diabetes research.

They left New Zealand on Tuesday and arrived in Shanghai yesterday to spend two days in the city before starting their trip.

They expect to be back in Dunedin on June 5.

Mr Bennetts has cycled extensively through Asia, spending most of his winter holidays exploring the continent, including cycling through Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.

“I have already cycled more than 5000km through Asia,” Mr Bennetts said.

“I’ve ridden from Singapore to Shanghai and now this trip will put me over 6000km.”

The impetus to start cycling came as a result of an illness he had in 2000.

“I came right in 2002 but couldn’t do physical exercise then.

“Because we [he and his wife Theresa] holiday in winter time, we wanted to go somewhere warm and I needed to do something to build up strength.

‘Now I go away riding somewhere different most years.”

Mrs Bennetts has been on a couple of trips with him, but this year Mr Wanoa will accompany him and has been riding around the Teviot Valley to improve his fitness.

He was looking forward to “embracing the culture”, although he had to have three rabies injections, as well as inoculations for tetanus.

“He inspired me to tag along and if not for him, I would not being doing it,” Mr Wanoa said.

“I just hope I can keep up.”

His granddaughter Indirecently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes so it was suggested they use the trip to raise money for the Spinal Cord Society New Zealand, which researches cures for spinal injuries, as well as diabetes.

“We set up a Givalittle page, and our goal was $2000, but we have already got $1700, so we want to raise as much as possible,” he said.

The two men hope to cycle about 100km a day, with rest days every two or three days, which will give them time to explore the countryside and talk to local people.

They will also buy their food at roadside stalls, markets and stay in basic hotels.

Mr Bennetts said he had a rough idea of his destination each day and part of the pleasure of the adventure was the opportunities they had to meet local people.

They intend to take things easier for the first day or two of cycling.

“When you start off, if you don’t look after your bum on the first day, it makes the whole journey sore,” he said.

Once they reach Beijing they will take the 300kmh bullet train back to Shanghai.

He said during his previous trip in China he had had difficulty with signs, which were in graphics, which meant it was harder to determine the correct route to cities, but once he arrived there he found it easier to navigate.

“It is like a sports game and I am waiting for the whistle for kick off,” Mr Bennetts said.