Hospice Hero. Rockstar Grandad

Hospice Hero. Rockstar Grandad

The New Zealand Tour Aotearoa is a challenging 3,000km ‘bikepacking’ venture from Cape Reinga to Bluff, which includes a combination of cycle trails, tracks and paths to highlight some of New Zealand’s best scenery and quiet country back roads.

Graeme (Grimmy) Martin, along with 523 other riders across a series of seven waves, started out at the very top of the North Island and worked his way down through a series of designated photo checkpoints – all to raise funds and awareness for Hospice Waikato.

Grimmy and his wife Sharon, became involved with Hospice Waikato after two friends had received hospice care. “One of the reasons I chose to do this for Hospice Waikato was to raise awareness because I didn’t really know much about the service before people we knew needed it,” says Grimmy.

What began as a goal to raise between $5,000 - $10,000 soon exceeded expectations as their fundraising efforts raised close to $30,000 before he had started pedalling! However, there was still work to be done, and on the 24th of February Grimmy began his journey - the words ‘Hospice Waikato’ printed proudly on his t-shirt.

One of the main highlights, Grimmy explained, included the support he received from the community. As well as friends and family seeing him off at Cape Reinga, ringing a cowbell when he arrived in Kaiawa, and welcoming him when he reached Bluff at the end – many people whom he had not met before were offering their support. “As I was riding along a guy going the other way stopped and said, ‘Are you Grimmy?’ - he had been following the live tracking website. We stopped for a chat and he rode with us down the track for a couple of kilometres. No sooner had we said goodbye to him than we met another guy waving us down with two cans of coke and a packet of Tim Tams,” Grimmy recalls.

However, it was not all smooth sailing. A few mechanical issues along the way and a slow leak in a tyre created delays, the bad weather meant parts of the track had to be closed, and the physical and emotional pressure weighed heavy on his shoulders. In the pouring rain Grimmy travelled the furthest he had done in one day - 164km, and on average, every day Grimmy climbed to an altitude of 1300m - the equivalent of climbing Mt Cook every three days.

Sadly, halfway through the ride Grimmy had to say goodbye to his travel companion of 14 days due to injury. “The following seven days were the hardest and I spent most of it on my own,” says Grimmy. Regardless of these bumps in the road, his determination to complete the ride did not waver. “I knew every morning I just had to get up and get back on the bike. I tried to focus on one day at a time, but I never thought about quitting once,” says Grimmy.

On the twenty-fourth day Grimmy pedalled his last few kilometres to the final point of the journey where, to his surprise, a number of family and friends were there to greet him and holding a large sign that read ‘Hospice Hero. Rockstar Grandad’.

- Rachael Bish,
Hospice Waikato

From Hospice Waikato: Grimmy is certainly our hero. With approximately $38,000 raised to date we are in complete awe of him and the incredible journey he has undertaken in support of Hospice Waikato. Thank you to everyone who supported Grimmy throughout his ride, and thank you Grimmy - you are an inspiration to us all!