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Yip. I did it twice.

On the 01.02.2013 I dusted off my bike and again set out to raise awareness for all New Zealand children’s charities by cycling 6482kms around the coast of Aotearoa.


The original 'Cycle for Life' was about me completing a journey, and where possible raising awareness for children’s charities. 'Cycle 4 Life 2' concentrated more on raising awareness for those same charities, because I knew already that I could complete this adventure.

There were no rest days, but I added 5 days to allow me extra time to concentrate on my main goal, raising more awareness than I had done previously, and hopefully not wear myself out in the process.

I was less shy about asking for help. I had received so much support in 2010 that I wanted to include as many people as possible in 2013, and so I did things like ask for flyers to be professionally printed, shirts to be professionally made, my trailer to be professionally adjusted, and my bike to be professionally maintained. Most of which happened to a standard well beyond what I expected, or had asked for, and so not only was I more prepared for Cycle 4 Life 2, I actually looked more professional whilst doing it.

In 2010, on my original Cycle for Life, it took a while for me to believe that I could complete the journey, even after I had started. As a result media outlets were understandably reluctant to promote what I was doing until I had done a certain percentage. I mean I was walking into local newspaper and radio stations telling them that I was cycling around New Zealand on a homemade bike, sleeping on the side of the road, not collecting money, what did I expect. But in 2013, even before I began, I could promote what I was about to do using my 2010 bike ride as an example. I had done it before, and completed it, so promoting it was a lot easier.

Financially I was in a better position, but only because I sold everything I owned, and I do mean everything.

I had decided to move to Hamilton after Cycle for Life, and set up Custom Vision Photography there, to spend more time with my birth father after two of his sisters, my aunties, died from cancer almost together, and that I would make it work. Even though I realised Hamilton was not the ideal place to do this, I set myself up there because I finally wanted to settle down. I wanted a home for myself. A base. So I made friends there, I set up a good network of people around me, all of which I had done with one goal in mind, and that goal was to build up Custom Vision into a successful small business, something not only continued to grow on its own, but something that also allowed me to continue to grow also.

I did really well. I got myself to the point where I was ready to start my own shop. I had set myself up a home, and I had done it all by myself.

First I got a job in Hamilton to pay my bills. I had agreed with my birth father to rent a room above his pub, and as a result was committed to not letting money come between us. That meant ensuring no matter what I did, that I met that commitment. It also meant that whatever I did, what I was doing would have to work in with what he wanted me to do, and the short version of a very long story is that simply did not happen.

It was mostly due to a lack of communication between us, a miscommunication I guess you could say, and even after knowing I had created a home for myself there, somewhere that for the first time in my life truly felt like a home, I would eventually have to leave so that our relationship could be maintained, even though it meant I would again have to start over somewhere else, that was something I was willing to do. I have never been very good at asking anyone to help me, and I guess I'm still not.

I had tried to start Custom Vision seriously after giving up the job I had, only to realise it was not that simple. Life then led me to another job, with a local company, and a further series of challenges that once again I am pretty sure nobody else could have got themselves into, but it also led to opportunities that otherwise would never have presented themselves.

I was a regular at the local market, built my photography cart, and made numerous new contacts. I set myself up slowly, taking one step at a time.

It was working, and so then perhaps stupidly I borrowed money from the bank to buy a van. Something that allowed me to travel, as my next step was to start a shop, and get my photography cart more mobile. Which was when I decided that to promote the whole thing I would cycle around New Zealand again. I thought I could ask the company I worked for to sponsor me, and that I could promote them as I did it. I thought if I had a shop set up, even a half-arsed one, before I left that shop would benefit to the point where I might actually be able to make everything work together.

Hiccup number one came when I asked for time off to do the bike ride, and was told that I wasn’t allowed to take so much time off. So I resigned. Hiccup number two was I wasn’t allowed to set up a shop, so I sold everything I had worked so hard to achieve, because I was already committed to cycling around New Zealand again.

In that moment Cycle 4 Life 2 was created, and looking back now, even though I still believe it was the right thing for me to do, it definitely was not the most sensible.

To put it into perspective, I not only sold everything I had previously owned to start my bike ride, but I then had to borrow a huge amount of money to complete it. I still had bills to pay each week, and so even though I had borrowed a huge amount of money to complete Cycle 4 Life 2, I actually did the bike ride with even less than I had done the first ride with, but ironicly I looked more professional doing it.

The cool part about all of this is that I achieved so much more in 2013, than I did in 2010, and that single fact alone made it all worthwhile. Sure, I’m going to spend the next few years getting myself out of the debt that I have got myself into, and that as a result what I am able to do with Custom Vision is extremely limited, but I accepted that the day I decided to do it. I still have a relationship with my birth father, and I still have the opportunity to succeed.

I was ‘quite unwell’ by the time I finished, but it didn’t kill me.

Cycle 4 Life 2 was as much about me raising awareness for the children’s charities of New Zealand, as it was about me honouring my commitment to this project, and I think I definitely did both of those things, even if it wasn’t the smartest thing for me to do personally, ultimately it was the right thing to do, and I don’t regret any of it. Quite the opposite in fact.

Newspapers picked up my story before I even began. Local radio stations became involved, and along the way a huge variety of media outlets picked up on my story. My friends were not only interested, they were an active part of the challenge, and as a result more people shared what I did than I could ever have hoped for. I achieved more good than bad, and regardless of the consequences to myself, I eventually appreciated everything that happened.

With all that said, I didn’t enjoy the challenge of actually riding the bike as much as I did the first time. It was if anything easier, and weirdly I think that was because I was more comfortable, and the roads were familiar. There were fewer surprises, and a certain degree of I had done it all this before. The weather was much worse, I had far more problems with my bike, and overall it just took me a long time to appreciate separately from my first bike ride. Mentally it was harder than it was physically, much harder than I expected, and that, apart from New Zealand’s ‘get out of my way, I’m coming through regardless’ attitude from drivers, was my biggest challenge.

A challenge that I successfully completed. Twice … .. .