By Nickie Race Jones

“That’s Peter Baines sitting over there”.  So up I walked and said “Is your book any good?”

Well it must be because I have just registered to do my 5th hands ride in May 2018 in NZ from Cape Reinga to Auckland. And, rest assured, Pete never lets me forget that first introduction.

That was over 5 years ago and it was pure serendipity. My name is Nickie and I live in Auckland, NZ. I was at my friends 40th in Sydney, which I nearly didn’t go to.  I knew she was fundraising for some crazy 800km bike ride that she was doing and my inner voice thought: “why on Earth would anyone want to do that?” and duly gave her $100 towards her venture. I hadn’t ridden a bike since University and, as I was hurtling towards 50 years young, I had no intention to.  However, I also did not realise that I was clearly searching for something.  Maybe the need to make a small difference in this ugly world of ours, but not sure how to do it.  I was definitely not looking for an excuse to wear lycra.  I actually think I look alright in my kit, but I am not sure that anyone who rides behind me would agree! And I was definitely deeply suspicious of charities, knowing that donated funds were so often diluted by administration, marketing or other “unseen” costs.

Within a week of leaving the party, I had bought and read Pete’s book, and made a decision to jump in and do something well outside of my comfort zone.

Suddenly I had 5 months to train AND raise $10,000! I am not sure which was more terrifying.  I was not a cyclist and had never fundraised! But I did it.  The Northern Ride 2013 was amazing. So amazing that I wanted to do it again the next year.  But due to commitments with my own children, I couldn’t.  So, instead, I decided to take them to Baan Tharn Namchai the following year and live there for 3 weeks and be there when the Southern riders came in.

Under the watchful eye of Khun Rotjana, (whose recent passing we are still mourning) myself and three teens from Auckland learned a lot about first world problems, gratitude, unconditional love and kindness.  We laughed, we made life-long connections and we learned some more about what a huge difference Hands makes to these beautiful at-risk Thai children and their communities.

And I also learned that I had fallen into a new family, a new tribe of people who care, not only about the children, but also about YOU.  About helping you up the hills or the along endless hot stretches of tarmac to the next water stop.  About cans of sweet iced coffee, peanut brittle and pineapple, which all taste so heavenly when your energy is fading.  A soul tribe of like-minded people, who all have your back and support you through every dollar you fundraise and then every turn of the pedal.

I have also attended three Future of Leadership conferences, a wonderful initiative, now held in several cities every year.  It is a forum for incredible world-class motivational speakers, who share inspiration and ideas, for business and life.

Last year I took part in the first NZ ride, which coincided with a “hundred year storm” that caused untold damage across the country.  We struggled through driving rain that hurt my face and eyes, which I kept shut a lot of the time!  We dodged manhole covers, floating down the street and arrived in Auckland, like half-drowned rats, wearing heavy nappies. But we laughed, and the sense of achievement was immense. And I will do it all again this year.

The Hands ride is challenging.  But once you have done one ride and overcome the perceived mountain of fundraising and the physical challenge of the ride itself, you learn that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.  And you want to do it all again.  The Hands community teaches the principles of love, kindness and integrity.  It is like SELF-DEVELOPMENT on wheels.  And 100% of every single dollar donated goes directly to helping the kids.

Once you have done one ride, you will want to do it again. Nothing can replace that experience of riding into Home Hug or BTN and seeing the kids’ smiling faces.  And nothing can replace the sense of personal achievement and camaraderie that you will experience.

And if you haven’t read Pete’s book, I urge you to do so.  It’s pretty good!

See you on the next ride! Nickie x