My story

On your bike, Mike!

As if cycling the 3,000km length of New Zealand wasn’t daunting enough, how would you feel about completing the journey in less than 30 days, completely self-supported and suffering the effects of Parkinson’s disease?

That’s exactly what Fidelity Life customer Mike Havill will be doing in February 2020 when he joins over 1,000 riders from all over the world taking on the Tour Aotearoa.

Held every two years, Tour Aotearoa is described as a ‘bikepacking odyssey’ that follows a combination of cycle trails, off-road tracks and open country roads from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

After noticing some co-ordination issues, Mike was referred to a neurologist and diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012 at 51 years old. While he was determined to keep working for as long as he could, by 2018 Mike needed to reduce his hours and put in a claim on his income protection policy.

“The case manager was wonderful and sympathetic, it was a massive relief when my claim was accepted. I’ve been able to continue working with reduced hours.”

Parkinson’s disease is a condition that affects the nervous system. In particular it affects the brain’s production of dopamine, an essential chemical that helps control our emotional response, movement and ability to be attentive.

Mike’s found cycling to be good therapy and says his training’s going well. While there’s still a lot of unknowns and questions over how he’ll manage, Mike’s confident and says he’s fitter than he’s ever been.

“I sometimes struggle to walk in a straight line but don’t seem to have a problem pedalling in a straight line.”

The fundraising aspect of the ride’s very important to Mike because he’s determined to help find a cure for Parkinson’s. He’s set up a Givealittle page to raise money for both Parkinson’s NZ and the Neuro Research Charitable Trust - check out his Givealittle page to get updates or make a donation.

You can also follow Mike’s Tour Aotearoa journey by following his GPS tracker. He leaves Cape Reinga on 19 February 2020 at 9am.

For more information head over to the Tour Aotearoa website.

Happy pedalling, Mike!

Read more from our December 2019 issue of Be Free