Cycle tour much needed boost to farmers’ wellbeing

Found in: News / News
Date: 12 May 2016
Cycle tour much needed boost to farmers’ wellbeing

30 Mar, 2016


After almost 550kms, 24 rural destinations and four event days, Farmstrong’s Fit4Farming Cycle Tour is on its ‘final legs’ – and will head from Cromwell through Gore to Bluff over the next four days. 

The cycle tour is part of the Farmstrong Challenge which encourages all Kiwi farmers to collectively achieve four million kilometres of physical activity by 2 July 2016.  The focus of the tour itself is on rural wellbeing, and reducing stress, through physical exercise and social activity – and farmers are invited to join in. 

Farmers, along with rural professionals can take part in the Southland Farmers Classic which heads from Gore to Winton on Friday 1 April. 

Around 100 cyclists are already signed up for the final Event Day which will include a BBQ and social event in Winton (details below).

MHF staff join the peloton

Leading up to the Classic, Mental Health Foundation (MHF) Acting Chief Executive, Hugh Norriss and two other MHF staff will join the peloton and ride from Cromwell to Winton from Thursday. 

“We’re really enjoying working with a community that’s motivated about looking after its mental health and wellbeing, especially during difficult times”, says Mr Norriss. 

It’s a sentiment echoed by tour organiser and former dairy farmer Ian Handcock who is leading the core peloton of 20 which set off from Ngatea on the Hauraki Plains on Friday 18 March. 

“We’re going from strength to strength as we complete about 100kms a day.  Energy levels are high, and the whole crew has become an unbeatable team. These guys are never short of a laugh or a helping hand too” says Mr Handcock. 

The peloton is joined daily by cyclists of all ages from the rural towns they travel through, as well as being mobbed when they stop for planned family Event Days in Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu and Canterbury. 

Incredible stories of adversity and courage

Ian says what makes the tour special is the amazing people and their incredible stories of adversity and courage. 

“They’ve talked about their journeys of mental distress and recovery, and are happy to tell us how they’ve ended up where they are today,” he says. “The amount of positive feedback we are getting about what we are doing is too much to record, but it shows that every kilometre is worth it.”  

Ian and his core team of riders are philosophical about the broken spokes, punctures, other malfunctions and sore bodies they’ve endured – and are very grateful for their masseuse, Phillipa Gray by the end of each day.

 “We’ve had a few funny moments when gravity has grabbed a couple of the guys before they've unclipped,” Ian says. “We’ve also signed kids’ road codes and bodies at South Makirikiri School; lost our support vehicle on a couple of accidental deviations and seen every set of road works between Ngatea and Twizel [so far].  

“Other than the above, every goal is being accomplished and ticked off. The Bluff Hill is looking more and more achievable each day!”

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Paula TaylorMental Health Foundation021 300 594 or 09 623 4810 ext 840 


About the Farmstrong Fit4Farming Cycle Tour

Ian Handcock’s FarmStrong Fit4Farming cycle tour has travelled the length of New Zealand starting in Ngatea on Day 1 (18 March) and finishing in Bluff on Day 16 (2 April). 

On Friday 1 April around 80 cyclists (farmers and rural professionals) are joining the peloton to ride the second to last leg of the tour.  They’ll leave Gore at 10am - and arrive in Winton at around 12.45pm where there will be a community event.  The peloton will then ride on to Invercargill later that day. On Saturday 2 April the peloton will complete the tour – riding from Invercargill to Bluff – arriving at Bluff at around 12pm to pop the cork on a bottle of bubbles.  

About Farmstrong

Farmstrong  is a joint initiative between leading rural insurer FMG and the Mental Health Foundation and co-funded by Movember. Follow the tour and more FarmStrong news on Twitter and Facebook.


Southland Event Day


Hamilton Park, Gore.


Take part in the ‘Southland Farmers Classic’ – a 65km/23km ride with the Peloton, or join us for a BBQ enjoy a day off the farm. If riding, you’ll need to bring a bike, helmet and suitable exercise clothing.


Friday 1 April

  9.30am: 65km riders meet at Hamilton Park - must be registered.

10.00am: 65km ride departs for Hedgehope Hall (105 minutes).

11.45am: 23km riders join the group at Hedgehope Hall to Winton (60mins).

12.45pm: Ride concludes at Vet South clinic, Winton

 All participants will receive free fruit and water at the end of their activity and there will be a free BBQ available from 12.45pm. 

There will be a bike check-in. Participants need to bring something warm for afterwards and an optional picnic.