Imagine a world free of paralysis from spinal cord injuries.
This is the vision of John Winkie, an inspiring octogenarian with oil flowing through his veins! And in his 80th year he’ll be riding his 80 yr old race bike in one of NZ’s toughest 1 day road cycle races to help raise awareness and $80,000 for spinal injury research.
John reckons that this challenge is nothing compared to the daily mental and physical ‘mountains’ that people with spinal injuries climb in their rehabilitation.
After a very close friend received treatment at the Burwood Spinal Unit with amazing results John was inspired and wants to help others get out of their wheelchairs by helping to fund research.
“My friend is currently recovering from serious spinal injuries in Burwood spinal unit and receiving incredible help. Two other close friends have also had serious spinal injuries and recovered to live totally full lives due to the amazing help and support they have received and they also plan to join me on this venture and ride Le Race.”
“The charities supporting spinal research and rehabilitation need all the financial support they can get and I wanted to help them in some way and I figured if I could get people to sponsor me riding in one of New Zealand’s toughest road races then that would be a good challenge as I approach my 80th year. This was next levelled when a few of my riding mates cheekily quipped “Why don’t you make it a harder goal mate and ride it on your old bike and then we’ll ‘sponsor’ you if you ‘finish it’!”
John says “ I had wanted to set myself a lofty personal goal that I could step up to, and would inspire others to support me to help the trust. Luckily I have my trusty Duckett road bike which I bought and raced back in 1953. It’s nearly 80 years old and so the idea was born.”
He says “Researchers face major challenges every day in the funding of their ongoing research and if I can help support them with this new fundraising effort I can hopefully raise $80,000 in the process so it may help people leave their wheelchairs sooner”.
John is no new comer to such challenges. His sporting career spans over five decades and he still rides his road and mountain bikes and his motorcycle when supporting cycle races as a marshal.
“I think many people tend to let go of their fitness and I want to show that remaining fit and healthy as you age is important and cycling is great as you can enjoy it at any age anywhere.”
Now he’ll be riding his trusty 80 year old antique road race bike over the high alpine peaks of Banks Peninsula to raise awareness of spinal injury rehabilitation and also raise $80,000 to support the researchers who are working to find a cure for SCI.
“An antique roadie on an antique road bike will be quite a sight I imagine and should make for a great day out. I am looking forward to both the mental and physical challenges and support”.
“I’ve got Lloyd O’Brien - the legendary Bike Dr rebuilding the wheels to original spec as rust was having a field day with the spokes! I’ve also got parts from David Benson of Worrals to get it back to original spec to be ready for the 1,500 + metres of climbing in Le Race”.
As a prelude John plans to ride 80km around Matakana on the 4th September then drive to Christchurch via Hamilton, Whanganui and Blenheim for training rides and support for Le Race on 19th Sept 2020.