02 May 2022
They may have a combined age of 160, but childhood sweethearts Bruce and Joy Crabtree still have plenty of fuel in the tank.
The spritely couple live an extraordinary life. They’ve explored 25,000 kms of the planet by bicycle, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, hiked the Camino, and been to Antarctica.
“We get one go at this life and we intend to make the most of it,” says Joy (79).
So far, they’ve cycled the length and breadth of New Zealand, throughout Australia, and all over Europe.
“We used to cover about 100 kms a day, but for the last few years it’s been more like 45. We’re getting older and can’t push ourselves as much, but so long as we stay fit, I see no reason we can’t still be cycling when we’re 90 or 100!”
Most evenings the pair ride 15 kms along the Waikaraka Cycleway, a stone’s throw from their Hillsborough retirement village, Parkside. They also have weekly strength-training sessions with their daughter, and they undertake rigorous training schedules in the lead-up to every expedition.
“When we did the Camino for our 50th wedding anniversary we hiked 900 kms without a single blister. That’s because in the year prior, we walked 2500 kms to prepare ourselves. We even started our trip by walking from our retirement village to the airport!”
Bruce (a former Auckland Harbour ferry skipper) and Joy (a professional pianist) stay brain-fit playing lunchtime card games and completing 1000-piece jigsaws together. They also write books.
“We’ve written and published hardback books for each of our three grandchildren and we’re currently finishing a book for our daughter Cheryl. It’s very much a joint effort – I write and Bruce compiles the photographs.”
It’s hard to imagine they have time for anything else, but you’d be surprised. Joy founded Parkside’s excellent choir, and the pair ran the retirement village’s social club for many years.
“Now I’m part of Bacchus Piano Trio with a violinist and a cellist. We perform concerts in retirement villages,” explains Joy, who was Dame Malvina Major’s accompanist for 20 years and played keyboard with the Auckland Philharmonia and NZ Symphony Orchestra. One of the country’s few qualified dream practitioners, she also runs monthly dream groups for village residents.
Living a life of adventure has clearly served them well, and the couple have no intention of slowing
“Bruce and I never rest. We’re saving that for when we get old.”