Tearfund Poverty Cycle

Date(s) - 26/08/2017

The Tearfund Poverty Cycle is all about making a difference, photo provided

Every now and then you find an event that just has a special something about it.  It could be that it’s just a different format of race to anything else, or it could be its dedication to raising money for charity.  The Tearfund Poverty Cycle Challenge combines both of these things in an event that champions cycling as a means to help break the cycle of human trafficking and exploitation around the world.

John Watson from Tearfund New Zealand spoke to us about the origins of the Tearfund Poverty Cycle Challenge.  Although it is now held in the south Auckland region every year it began far more widespread.  “The Tearfund Poverty Cycle was birthed out of a desire to host a fun, community cycling event that would break the cycle of poverty for vulnerable children both locally and globally,” Watson said.  “Full of ambition we attempted a nationwide campaign, with Poverty Cycles held in Nelson, Wellington, Auckland and Taranaki.  We also had riders traversing the length of the North and South islands to meet on the steps of parliament.  That was a good learning experience, and we’ve since held it exclusively in Auckland!  We’re really proud of how the event has grown and how well-respected it has become among elite riders as well as weekend warriors.”

Although riders can enter individually or as a ‘stationary rider’ for the Tearfund Poverty Cycle Challenge it is primarily renowned as being a relay event.  And it’s an event that, as Watson said, draws a great mixture of weekend warriors and top elite riders in the country; all of whom join together for a phenomenal cause.  

The event takes place on a 24km circuit with multiple options for the teams competing.  But the event is about far more than just the ride itself.  “Each team has six riders, who each ride two laps in pairs,” Watson said.  “Each team and rider set up an ‘every day hero’ page online and ask friends and family to support them by donating via this page. The general feedback is that it’s a great day, fun, but also as competitive as you want it to be.”

Over the years a truly hugely diverse range of people have lined up to compete or complete the Tearfund Poverty Cycle Challenge.  “[The event draws] a real range of people, from groups of friends to large corporates and everyone in between – schools, clubs, other charities, celebrities, Ironmen, professional cyclists and politicians!  We’ve even had a rickshaw, tandem bike and a unicyclist take part,” Watson revealed.

The Tearfund Poverty Cycle returns in 2017 on 26th August, photo provided

The course itself is challenging but doable for just about everyone competing.  Starting and finishing at Ardmore Airport, the event takes riders through Clevedon Village  before the big challenge of the day.  “The course meanders through Clevedon Village over a flat to undulating terrain until you reach the 1.2km climb to summit Twilight Hill, which is where the real challenge sets in with a climb of 152 metres,” said Watson.

Riders have the option to enter as individuals and complete the 2, 3 of 4 lap options.  Alternatively entrants can take part as stationary riders who ride on one of the stationary bikes at the race hub, which are donated by Club Physical.  Riders who compete in this category can opt to tackle either a one-hour or two-hour session.

At its core the event is not so much about the result on the day as it is about the ability of entrants to raise as much money as possible to fight terrible injustices around the world.  In 2016 $115,812 were raised in the fight against human trafficking.  And it’s this that makes John Watson and the team at Tearfund the most proud.  “We’re really proud to see so many people getting out there early on a Saturday to help combat human trafficking and exploitation. Given that the issue is mainly in other countries there’s the potential for there to be a disconnect for people, but seeing them have empathy and actively take part in combatting it from NZ is a real blessing for us,” Watson said.

For more information about the Tearfund Poverty Cycle or to enter click here.