Asima and his wife Catherine ride a tandem bike along the river bank

Asima Leone, from Wellington, completed a 130km West Coast Widerness cycle trail on the back of a tandem bike driven by his wife. He sent in this article about his adventure:

How does a blind man experience the 130km West Coast Wilderness cycle trail? On the back of a tandem of course! Preferably not a basic bicycle bought at the last minute under pressure from family, but if that’s all you’ve got…

We set off blindly (excuse the pun) following the advice from family that it was all perfectly doable. There were many challenges that only a keen Wellington blind man could appreciate. I was driven by my wife Catherine on the back of a tandem bicycle – we are both novices in the great outdoors. Catherine had to learn to verbally communicate things like our turns, speed and rough ground. We navigated crossing bridges, boardwalks, zig zags, S bends, a narrow track wedged between a water race and a drop off, tired kids and our chains coming off and flat tyres. All these challenges were overcome. There were bridges and boardwalks that were better walked across and a narrow section that was a little nerve wracking, but better cycled. The gentle downhill from Kawaka saddle was a highlight as was riding along beside the Tasman sea.

Until the final 10km stretch, the only obstacle to a successfully completed trip of a lifetime was a slightly buckled back wheel. But then disaster struck. The slightly buckled wheel become irretrievably bent, and the tandem died – or so we thought. Enter the proprietor of Four J’s takeaways at Paroa. Upon hearing the story of the blind man and the mortally wounded tandem with only 10km to go, he promptly got in his ute, picked up the tandem where it had been stashed down the trail, swapped out the bent wheel rim for an old but straight one he had in his shed, and sent us on our way.  All the while refusing any payment for his help. The trail was completed with much satisfaction that a disability had, for once, not prevailed.

Asima Leone and his wife Catheriane take photo with Mr Four J's at the Four J's Takeaways

Thank you Mr Four J’s – you really made our day – local spirit is still alive and well in Paroa.

We are now considering buying a better bike to cover more distance and handle a few air borns along the way, bring on the Timber Trail cycleway for another family holiday or a fear factor challenge!

If you’re a client who would like to experience tandem biking, get in touch. Call us on 0800 24 33 33 or email info@blindfoundation.org.nz