It started out as a way to build a routine and maintain fitness during the uncertainty of lockdown.
But Hilda Ross resident Neville Woodcock’s pledge to cycle 10 laps of his retirement village every day has seen him pedal an impressive 680km - and inspire a few fellow residents along the way!
“You have got to be positive when these situations happen,” said Neville, 80, a retired sheep and beef farmer from Tauwhare.
“When we went into lockdown I thought I have got to do something positive and keep to a routine.
“I haven’t missed a single day. And I really think this lockdown has helped the residents here to get together more and get fit.”
Pre-lockdown, Neville was already a familiar sight on Hamilton’s many cycleways on his electric bike and would usually manage three rides a week of roughly 20km.
But the strict lockdown measures put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19 meant Neville couldn’t leave the confines of the Ruakura Road village.
“A circuit around the village is 1.5km per lap so I thought I would do 15km a day. I have a distance metre on my bike and I wouldn’t stop until I’d done 15km. I did it every day and rode 680km.”
Neville said the length of time it took to complete his 15km could vary wildly from day to day.
“Sometimes it would take me one and a quarter hours - if it was a little bit windy I wouldn’t see as many people. But sometimes it would take two and a half hours and it would be because I was talking to people!
“What I have found with the residents is how friendly they are. I have met so many people. We would talk about all sorts of things, the beautiful gardens, a lot of them I know their families, some used to live in my district years ago and some of their sons used to pick up our stock from the farm.
“And I think it’s a bit of a novelty, I think it’s the first time that anyone has biked around the village.
“They’d wave and call out ‘what distance have you done now?!’”
Describing himself as a ‘reasonably friendly person’, Neville said he particularly enjoyed talking to those with walkers and wheelchairs.
“I found it quite exhilarating to be honest.
“There was one gentleman with a walker, he had a bandage on his leg and he would only walk a little way to start with.
“Now he’s doing two or three times around the village. It takes him an hour. If anyone deserves a prize it’s him!
“I’m amazed at how much fitter everyone is since the lockdown.”
Neville moved into the village just over a year ago because it was something his wife Carole wanted to do.
Sadly, Carole suffered a stroke and passed away just a week before their moving in date.
“I haven’t regretted it at all. Everyone is really friendly and I have got very good neighbours.
“The staff have been very good, bringing us Happy Hour in a bag and our groceries. The staff couldn’t be better.”
While he missed seeing his family he had upskilled on technology and had regularly caught up with them virtually.
“My late wife used to do all the iPads and stuff so I’ve had to learn! I’ve used Zoom and Facetime – I’m a Rotarian and we had meetings every week on Zoom and we even had a quiz between my grandchildren and my family.”
He was thrilled to be able to finally visit them in person though.
“I’m going out on my bike today to see my daughters. This will be my first visit since lockdown started and I’m really looking forward to it.”
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