Parkinson’s no barrier to rail trail cyclist

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ALEXIA.JOHNSTON
@alliedpress.co.nz

Cyclists are pushing the limits on the Otago Central Rail Trail this summer, including Waikanae’s Avis and John Darnley.

The couple have been in the district this week to cycle the rail trail from Clyde to Middlemarch on their custom-made electric trike.

Mrs Darnley, who has Parkinson’s disease, sits in her wheelchair at the front of the trike, while Mr Darnley cycles.

The Darnleys had the trike custom-made in 2016 and they have used it on various outings, within their community and on other cycle trails.

“It’s like a normal bike – it’s an e-bike because the bike is so heavy,” he said.

The bike weighs about 200kg, once everyone and everything is on board.

“It’s good. It gets us around,” Mr Darnley said.

“We did Big Easy last year, a Napier cycle event and . . . I want to do other bike trails around the place.”

The trike was designed for Mr Darnley to take his wife out and about, he said.

“We go shopping on it, we see neighbours and friends. It’s just to get Avis out of the front room and we can do things together.”

Their latest adventure, on the rail trail was one they had been looking forward to.

“I was told about [it] and said I would love to do that,” Mr Darnley said.

“My problem is I have a van full of equipment and have to shift it from one location to the other, but [a] group has offered to take my van from one location to another for us, making it possible for us to do it, which is brilliant.”

The Darnleys are completing the journey with a group from Napier.

“They said ‘there’s a group of us going to do the trail in February’. I said ‘we are in’.”