Cycling is synonymous with Central Otago thanks to the spectacular cycle trails that draw thousands to the area every year.
However, a bike can be a lifechanging tool rather than just entertainment for many people.
Upcycles founder Chris Foggin, working at his own expense from a container on his Alexandra property, has been matching donated bikes to people’s needs for the past year.
The first bikes he donated were for children.
Mr Foggins was given an exrental bike and, working with Alexandra Primary School, he organised to get the bike converted to a trike for a young man with cerebral palsy. The school was able to get funding through Oranga Tamariki to purchase the conversion kit.
‘‘He is loving his mobility, riding with his mates and riding to school.’’
That was followed by another bike modified into a balance bike to meet a child’s particular need.
Since then people who had lost their driving licences have been supplied with a bike to get them to work. A family struggling to adapt to living in the area was kitted out with bikes and helmets, which allows them to get the children to school and the family to have some recreation activities.
A former police officer in the United Kingdom and New Zealand police firearms and defensive tactics instructor, Mr Foggins worked with Cycling New Zealand as an education manager before being made redundant.
He had a long involvement in cycling in both countries. In his role with Cycling NZ he saw similar groups operating around the country and liked the philosophy behind them.
‘‘It’s a hand up not a hand out,’’ he said.
Cycle hire companies and individuals have donated bikes
He did not judge why people needed a bike. If they had lost their licence drink-driving it did not matter to him. Helping them keep their job by giving them a way to get there was much more important.
and with many contacts in the cycling community, Mr Foggins has been able to source parts to modify or upgrade donated bikes.
Trail Journeys has so far donated 18 bikes it no longer needed. Another company supplies helmets at cost price.
‘‘If you sell a conventional bike you might get $100. A lot of people don’t need that [money].’’
However, that bike could be life-changing for someone in need, he said.
Despite being a former policeman he did not judge why people needed a bike. If they had lost their licence drink-driving it did not matter to him. Helping them keep their job by giving them a way to get there was much more important, he said.
Until now, Upcycles has been run and funded solely by Mr Foggins. To get to the next stage he has secured sponsorship from a lawyer to make Upcycles a charitable trust so he can apply for grants to get more people riding.
To make sure only those in genuine need are benefitted, people have to be nominated or referred to Upcycles. Anyone wanting a bike for themselves or someone else can contact Upcycles through Alexandra Community House.