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Cycling with the Poor team storming through NZ

Cycling with the Poor team storming through Southland

At the end of their first week of biking the length of the South Island, the Cycling with the Poor team is in high spirits. They've made good progress through Southland and will be near Queenstown by Sunday.

The team, led by the Pawson family of Christchurch, is aiming to raise $100,000 for World Vision's Born to be Free projects in India – to prevent children being bonded into labour or trafficked.

Whenever he can get internet access, Sean Pawson – father and team leader of the expedition – has been blogging on about the team's experiences:

"I'm sitting in a deer shed at Mt Hamilton Station reflecting on a long day and hoping I get enough sleep before kicking into gear tomorrow morning," he wrote on Wednesday evening.

"The route today took us through a valley system along the eastern side of the Takitimu mountains and then up the Oreti River valley to Mt Hamilton. There were a few short grunty climbs to deal to. Anna [age 16 – Sean and Gill Pawson's second daughter] and I dug deep however and managed to nail the pitch. Anna stoked powerfully on the hills. Her volleyball team used to call her Springs because of the power in her legs... I could certainly feel the power kicking in when we needed it. The sight of a bull and a herd of cows saw her pushing even harder … as she reminded me how she was chased and butted by a cow as a toddler!

"A farmer with two young children pulled up alongside us in his ute on one stretch of dirt and his kids called out, 'Hey we saw you in the paper!' Another farmer stopped to yarn and find out how things were going. Local people are being hugely supportive of the ride and the needs of the bonded children in India. Many are horrified when they hear the about this form of modern-day slavery."

Sean says the team has had only minor setbacks so far, including the odd wrong turn.

"Missed our first turn into Island Bush forest and had to back-track 500 metres to access the forestry road. A missed landmark later in the day led to an embarrassing 8km tour in the wrong direction, into the teeth of the wind. We may finish up riding 2000 kms by the end of the journey if we are not more alert. GPS is great but you still have to check it regularly to ensure you are following your route!"

The Cycling with the Poor team was inspired by a trip to India in May 2007, where the family saw one of World Vision's Born to be Free projects for themselves. They are following an arduous route through the Southern Alps on mountain bike and four-wheel drive tracks. They began at Colac Bay on Monday January 14 and will finish near Nelson on Saturday February 16.


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