Cyclist conquers South Island

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When Rob Ross told people he was cycling 1800 kilometres around the South Island, simply for fun, people thought he was either crazy or a legend.

The Oamaru man has been cycling for about 38 years, including riding to work in Pukeuri every day, where he is a wool grader.

It took Mr Ross 26 days to complete and he said he saw the countryside in a whole new light.

”I always maintain that cycling is the perfect speed,” he said.

”You get to take in everything around you.”

Mr Ross also spent his 61st birthday on the bike ride.

The ride finished last Thursday, at 5.10pm, where he meet a friend for a Guiness at Fat Sally’s Pub and Resturant.

Spinning yarns with locals over a beer during his epic bike ride was a highlight for Mr Ross.

”People would be working and they would call me over for a chat,” he said.

The bike ride started in Christchurch and continued over the Lewis Pass, to Motueka, over the Takaka Hill to Farewell Spit, where the South Island disappears under the sea.

He then cycled down the Heaphy Track to Karamea, where he continued down the West Coast, to the Cascade River, and then over the Haast Pass to Wanaka and biked home via the Lindis Pass and the Waitaki Valley.

Mr Ross also achieved the monstrosity as a solo cyclist.

”I find people’s expectations are so different,” he said.

”It just doesn’t work for me.”

He said the locals he met were mind-boogled as to why Mr Ross was cycling so far, without a ”purpose”.

”It’s just something I always wanted to do,” he said.

He knew if he didn’t do it this winter, he may have never got around to it.

Watch this space for where Mr Ross might cycle to next.

By Jessie Waite