Tasman Leader : July 4th 2013
31 THE TASMAN LEADER, JULY 4, 2013 FEATURE Major project: Tasman Wheelers club president Malcolm Saunders on the new stretch of cycleway by the Waimea Inlet that is to be opened next month. Malcolm is helping to tidy up the area. Photo: PHIL BARNES. Free-wheelin' for local riders Malcolm Saunders has beaten death, and come back with a plan for the Richmond foreshore. Phil Barnes reports. The territory round here is phenomenal,whether it's mountainbiking, cycling or running. Malcolm Saunders Nelson's Mr Cycling Malcolm Saunders has literally come back from the dead to take on two major cycling pro- jects. Malcolm was club president of the Tasman Wheelers for 19 years, and has been responsible for starting and organ- ising a large numbers of races including the TNL and Tour de Vineyards events. However, he suffered a heart attack in January 2010 which left him clinically dead for 29 minutes. He said his wife Janet rushed to get help from their neighbours Geoff Cuth- bertson and his son Jacob and they gave him vigorous CPR before the ambulance arrived. But he remembers nothing of the next month where he underwent surgery to have a triple bypass oper- ation. I didn't even know about the Christ- church earthquake.'' He said it had taken him much of the following three years to recover but he had started to come right'' in the last few months, to the extent that he was now project manager in an ambitious programme aimed at cleaning up the Richmond foreshore along the route of the new cycleway. He has has also again taken over the presidency of the Tasman Wheelers. Malcolm said he first got involved in cycling as a child, as his older brother was a keen cyclist. I used to get all his hand-me-downs and I did have some success in Christchurch as a junior.'' But he gave away cycling when he came to Nelson in the late 1960s due to pressures from business commitments, a young family and a nine-year stint as a Nelson councillor. By the 1980s he got involved with the sport again, partially due to the success of his son Craig who represented New Zealand at cycling and was good enough to ride in some overseas tours. He said he could see the need for a cycling tour race in the Nelson region, so with the help of John Nayland and the Nelson and Marlborough Cycling clubs he started the four-day TNL tour in 1883. The tour ran for 16 years before TNL pulled out of their sponsorship arrange- ment in 1998. The tour was then super- seded by the Tour de Vineyards. Malcolm said the TNL tour was always held between Christmas and New Year and the organisers always held some pre and post-tour races, such as the Takaka Hill time trial, around that time. So they revamped the Takaka Hill event into a road race and incorpor- ated those other races which took place on the Hill St, Hope and Moutere circuits, and turned them into the Tour de Vineyards. Malcolm was one of the earliest members of what is now called the Tas- man Wheelers. The cycling club was formed in 1989 as the Upper Moutere Wheelers and subsequently became Star and Garter before becoming the Tasman Wheelers today. Malcolm became president of the Wheelers in 1992 and remained in the position until 2011 when he was forced to step down after his heart attack. Ross and Jill Ellison did an excellent job while I was ill but they are overseas at present and asked to step down so I was asked to do the job again. And I think I can help and bring the club to a new level'' The club now has 180 members which, despite the lack of population in the Nelson region, is the third-largest membership in the country, Malcolm said. Several Wheelers have also had out- standing success at elite level: Tom Fil- mer, Matt Black, Daniel Ellison, Sean Hambrook, Jack Bauer, Tom Ashley, George Bennett and Kieran Hambrook in Europe and Jeannie Kuhajek in the United States. Last month Caitlin Holmes and Gryson Napier were selected for the New Zealand under 19s to compete in Noosa, Queensland in early July. Malcolm said part of the reason for their success was the club's entry into the Benchmark series. We entered the Benchmark series for the first time in 2007 and won the men's and women's teams club event. We had our two Olympians Chris Nicholson and Robin Reid, a very young George Bennett and Karen Fulton which helped a lot. Then we got a sig- nificant grant from the Canterbury Community Trust to back the team, and it's gone from strength to strength. And Robin and Chris have been very helpful in passing on their knowledge. Chris's leadership is immense. He can read a race, and nine times out of 10 what he says in the pre-race briefing is the way it ends up. Last year in the Benchmark series Robin was first, Chris was second and Karen was first woman.'' He said this success had inspired younger riders within the club and made them realise they could do the same. Malcolm said another reason there were so many top cyclists in the area was because it was such a great place to train. The territory round here is phenomenal,whether it's mountainbik- ing, cycling or running.'' He said the growth of the network of cycleways had made cycling hugely popular in the region. It's unbelievable the number of peo- ple who are out there cycling these days. And the cycleways are a wonderful attraction for both locals and visitors. We need some linkages between the various cycleways, but generally the Nelson and Tasman District councils have done a great job.'' In a desire to do his bit to help with the cycleways project, Malcolm is cur- rently volunteering his time as project manager for the clean-up of the Rich- mond foreshore -- a project which is being facilitated by the district council. They had already received help with the project from St Paul's School and the Waimea College eco group. We are working closely with the Wai- mea Inlet Forum Group, Salisbury Girls have offered their help and Keep Rich- mond Beautiful also want to help.'' He said the overall objective was to return the Waimea Estuary to its orig- inal pristine condition.
July 11th 2013