An accident in 2002 resulted in Rob Davis being unable to drive again. He is now tackling the road in a different form of transport and all for a great cause.
With the goal of riding the length of New Zealand, the Pukekohe resident is tackling the tarmac this December aboard his specialty trike, all while raising awareness for the Brain Injury Association of New Zealand, also known as Headway.
“I don’t want to go to waste. I have so much knowledge that I want to share. I hope to one day become a motivational speaker or aviation lecturer, but for now, I volunteer my time with charity organisations and am focusing on my goal of riding the length of New Zealand, all while advocating for the association. They don’t received funding, yet they do so many good things for people like me. I was unaware of them and around 90 people per day in New Zealand suffer from some form of brain injury.”
In July 2002 whilst travelling to work along Pukekohe East Road, Rob hit a pig, causing his car to spin off the road, down a gully and come to rest against a tree. He was discovered by a local grower several hours later. Rob was rushed to hospital and placed in an induced coma for a week.
“The medical team looking after me didn’t get any response from me, and turned off my life support, but I kept breathing. Since my accident, I have ataxia, which means the right side of my body shakes, and I have problems with my balance and sight. I can no longer drive a car and I have had to learn to be left handed. My chances of being an All Black have been reduced quite a bit,” he laughs.
The road to recovery hasn’t been easy for the former Aviation Tutor and Flight Instructor for Massey University. While Rob has learnt to eat, walk and talk again, the possibility of holding down a job is becoming less of a reality.
Instead Rob has thrown all his energy into raising awareness for the organisation and people in it who have unconditionally supported him over the last few years.
“It is all about getting the word out, and putting positive spin on the situation, as there is still a perception about disabilities and a brain injury can quite often be an invisible injury,” says Rob.
During Brain Awareness Week earlier this year, Rob cycled from his home in Pukekohe to Whakatane. To help prepare for this ride, Rob has been training on Franklin roads nearly every day, riding an average of 40-50km on his greenspeed magnum trike. This has helped to get him ready to tackle the 250km ride to Rotorua in December.
The trip has been planned over nine days, averaging around 30km per day. Beginning on Thursday December 1, in Pukekohe, the journey will take Rob through Te Kauwhata, Ngaruawahia, Hamilton, Tirau, Tokoroa, finishing up in Rotorua. Along the way, Rob has organised several talks at schools to help advocate for road safety and educate about brain injuries.
Joining him as a support driver is Tuakau’s Shane Groom, who will make sure Rob arrives at each destination safely and will bring him home once Rob accomplishes his mission.
The Pukekohe resident has had great support locally for his journey so far, especially from Pukekohe Hill School.
“They have been great, and I must thank Michael Denton, my Liason Officer, for his help and the support from my family. I am really looking forward to this ride, and hope that it prepares me for my big trip next year.”
Rob Davis, pictured with daughter, Hannah, is set for his 250km trip in December aboard his specialty trike.