Not Useless But: The Magpies shine mild on love, loss and life

Not Dead Yet: The Magpies shine light on love, loss and life

At 81, bicycle owner Invoice Yates continues to be only a boy.

He’s one in every of 5 males wedged into tight, vivid, lycra gathered within the Princess Margaret Hospital automobile park on a drizzly Monday morning. Cycle shorts reveal skinny, pale pink scars operating over his kneecaps. The matching incisions are lasting indicators of surgical procedure.

Ten years his senior are veterans Graham White and Les Fibbens, and rounding out the group are Eric Hunter, 85, and Bruce Stanton, 82. Some have come for the train, others for the corporate, however for many, the weekly assembly of the Magpies is just routine.

Comradery and competitiveness keep the men coming back every week.


Comradery and competitiveness preserve the boys coming again each week.

The Magpies, named after a sequence of incidents with the pesky hen, are a bunch of Christchurch cyclists who meet to journey about 80 kilometres out to Tai Tapu for a espresso and a chat.

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Bike owner Les Fibbens, 91, fondly remembers the group’s inaugural meet. About 15 years in the past, a handful of largely retirees bought collectively for a journey and, after discovering most cafes had been shut, went again to his home to “rummage within the cabinets for one thing to eat”. Sooner or later through the ensuing banter, the Magpies had been born.

Bill Yates, 81, leads fellow Magpie cyclists Bruce Stanton, 82, Graham White, 91, and Eric Hunter, 85.


Invoice Yates, 81, leads fellow Magpie cyclists Bruce Stanton, 82, Graham White, 91, and Eric Hunter, 85.

A various group of women and men make up the now 100-strong group with varied fragments at differing skills working throughout the town. Some had been attorneys, others docs or managers. Most had been former runners who “wore [their] physique out” or aggressive athletes, all had been obsessed with health and wellbeing and “getting on a bit in age” was no barrier, Hunter mentioned.

A wholesome rivalry and aggressive spirit amongst the group stored the older members chugging alongside and “maintaining with the younger ones”.

They rode with a buddy, side-by-side, and chatted about life, loss and love.

Eric Hunter took up cycling as a safer alternative to running when his body started to "give up on [him]" in later life. (File photo)


Eric Hunter took up biking as a safer various to operating when his physique began to “quit on [him]” in later life. (File picture)

“You get to know the boring ones … the conversations would not final lengthy.

“There’s one in every of two of us who’ve misplaced our companions which has been very, very laborious … we have helped each other nevertheless it’s not been straightforward.”

Regardless of having two knee replacements and a hip pin, Hunter has proven no signal of slowing down.

Graham White and Bruce Stanton are active members of the Magpies cycling club.


Graham White and Bruce Stanton are lively members of the Magpies biking membership.

In July, he returned from a 13-day bike tour of Budapest the place he clocked up about 100 kilometres a day, one in every of solely three within the 17-strong group to choose out of utilizing an digital bike. His formidable streak helped him full a number of high-level rides, together with the multi-stage Tour of Eire and the Isle of Man Worldwide Street Street. He was a non-travelling reserve for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and gained the workforce’s part within the first ever Coast-to-Coast.

Hunter entered the Coast to Coast multisport competitors for the final time aged 79, the oldest particular person ever to finish the 243km occasion.

A Sport Canterbury’s Areas and Locations report discovered that retirees within the area did extra biking, golf, bowls, aquarobics than the nationwide common. Twenty-seven per cent cycled, eight per cent larger than the nationwide common.

Les Fibbens has been a keen cyclist all his life and was a founding member of the Magpies.


Les Fibbens has been a eager bicycle owner all his life and was a founding member of the Magpies.

Fellow Magpie Bruce Stanton took up monitor biking at age 63, and continues to be within the area 20 years on.

Stanton, 82, was the oldest competitor within the monitor biking programme however got here house in first in all however one of many races he entered within the South Island Masters Video games final 12 months. The one one within the group on Monday to have retained his personal knees and hips, he credit his exemplary heath refusing to make excuses for himself.

“Maintaining lively, that is what it’s important to do. Discover one thing and preserve doing it, get on the market.”

Not Useless But: This sequence goals to have fun the numerous older folks in our group defying their years to do wonderful issues. If you want to recommend somebody please e-mail [email protected] 

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