Not For The Faint Hearted15.03.2018
Fifty-eight year old, Kirwee aircraft engineer, Paul Washington is a Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari regular and about to embark on his fifth journey across the Alps on his trusty 50cc city scooter.
The Scooter Safari, to be held on May 19th, is an endurance ride from Christchurch to Hokitika. It is a journey of over 250kms to raise funds for the New Zealand Cancer Society. It’s not a ride for the faint hearted -designed to be the coldest, longest, hardest, most gruelling and uncomfortable test of endurance on a scooter to raise money and awareness for cancer sufferers.
Riders come from near and far, with significant numbers coming from the North Island and from Southland, and in the past there have even been Australian entrants. Entry numbers are capped at 250 for traffic management and this year the quota was filled in three days.
Initially begun by Air NZ engineers to support a fellow staff member with bowel cancer (they planned an event to be as uncomfortable as he was!) the event raises substantial funding. Paul’s personal journey has a base in the loss of his six year old son to a brain tumour twenty-five years ago. Both his wife and his sister-in-law have both survived breast cancer, and unfortunately Paul’s wife is again receiving treatment.
“I am a keen motorcyclist, but to ride little city scooters Coast to Coast is a long and uncomfortable experience, not knowing what challenges lie ahead, feeling pretty miserable, but continuing in the hope that things get better. It kind of gives me an insight in to the journey of a cancer suffer, yet what we do doesn’t even come close,” Paul said.
Each year Paul takes to the road in a Santa Suit, “this is in memory of my son who passed away a few weeks after Christmas. I always head off with a tear in my eye and fond memories of our short time together.”
This year Paul will be joined by his son in law who will be riding Paul’s other scooter, “the slower one of course,” Paul joked. He will also be joined by his daughter and grandson as support crew and Paul is hopeful that his wife will be well enough to come along also.
While there is a support trailer with fuel and spare bits, “there are always a number of scooters blowing up, especially on Porter’s Pass,” Paul reflected with a laugh.
Those who enter make a commitment to raise at least $250 in donations for the Cancer Society.
Combined, to date, the past Safari’s have raised a total of $789,000 with the aim this year to raise enough to reach a grand total of $1 million.
“We never really know what challenges the day will throw at us. In past years we have had many extremes, from snow, to a clear sunny day,” Paul commented.
After doing a few laps at Mike Pero Motorsports Park the race gets underway at around 9am. “This poses another challenge, avoiding all the scooter parts flying off some of the bikes that have just been dragged out of chook sheds,” laughed Paul.
If all goes well, and as planned, Paul is aiming to get to Hokitika at around 4.45pm.
Paul’s fundraising page is: scootersafari2018.everydayhero.com/nz/paul
There is also a collection bucket on the bar at the Kirwee Tavern.