Cycling 3000km from Cape Reinga to Bluff along New Zealand's various cycle trails and raising money for 2 wonderful dog rescue organisations
On February 24th 2016 I'll be setting out from Cape Reinga as part of in first ever Tour Aotearoa (http://www.touraotearoa.nz/) - a self-supported cycling adventure that travels the length of New Zealand, mostly on our many cycle trails and quiet gravel roads, finishing up in Bluff a maximum of 30 days later, after some 3000 grueling kilometers.
I'll be riding up to 18hrs a day, rain or shine, day and night. I'll be camping, struggling through the potential pain and other difficulties - along with close to 300 other cyclists from around New Zealand and the world.
As this is a rather difficult endeavor I'm asking for donations for the distance I'll be travelling, with the proceeds going towards two charities which are rather dear to my heart - K9 Rescue and Rehoming (https://www.facebook.com/pages/K9-Rescue-and-Rehoming/233569239999635), and Christchurch Bull Breed Rescue (https://www.facebook.com/ChristchurchBullBreedRescue).
Both are registered charities who perform a wonderful service, rescuing dogs in need, fostering (or assisting with finding fosters) and indeed finding permanent homes for these lovely animals.
I have a personal connection to both K9 rescue and Christchurch Bull Breed Rescue as I have a pitbull crossbreed that was taken in by K9 rescue 2 years ago.
He's a wonderful boy with a heart of gold - despite the controversial image pitbull's have garnished over the years.
Christchurch Bull Breed rescue (in particular) have been fighting against the negative image these dogs have obtained over the years, highlighting the behavior of the animals human parent as being the primary driving factor in the dogs temperament.
K9 Rescue and Rehoming and Christchurch Bull Breed Rescue are both wonderful registered charities that survive on donations and self-funding alone, and I'd love to raise as much money as I can during my trip down the country.
I'm a committed cyclist (32 years and counting) and have experienced the joys of riding virtually every kind of bike in every kind of scenario - from my daily commute, to successfully competing in both road and cyclocross racing, to touring around New Zealand, Australia and Europe.
As one of the few Cyclocross (fat tyre road bikes) riders in the event I'll be in line for a potentially very difficult tour, especially when riding the length of length of 90 Mile Beach, or on particularly nasty gravel or trails.
I intend to complete the ride in around 2 weeks, overcoming all the pitfalls along the way.
Mission Accomplished 30 March 2016
Hey so I forgot to put through my ultimate update to this page!
I've finished and whatnot. 14 days, 23 hours, 6 minutes for 3020km.
It killed me. I'm dead.
I also GAINED weight.
Day 1 started well - leading my wave (3 days behind wave 1) down to Cape Reinga, but a dropped water bottle and dodgy pedal cleats, and not feeling at all good made the beach ride pretty shitty. Once in Ahipara though I got cleaned up, got some food and cycled a few hours in the dead of night, camping wild in Broadwood.
Day 2 started with a dark, early morning climb over a g gravel hill with beautiful views of Northland to the ferry at Kohukohu. Quick breakfast and i just missed the 1st ferry, meet up with some other strong riders and had a day of back and forward with them through Mapua forest (amazing, beautiful and the best riding of the trip), but then suffered in the heat and heavy gravel sections. I didn't realise the impact it had and on getting to Dargaville i collapsed with heat exhaustion, vomiting up the food i was attempting to guzzle. i lay on the street for a while, getting some liquids in, finally made my way to a hostel, had 3 cold showers and a lie down, finally got eating, then as the sun was setting eased my way to Pouto point, my destination for the night and the location of the 2nd boat trip. The gravel logging road to the point was hard work in the dark.
Day 3 was a good, but another hot one. Nice boat trip to Helensville, flew through Auckland and down into the hilly suburban rural area of Clevedon - SO MANY HILLS. I got so hot that in Hunua i jumped a school fence and skinny-dipped in their pool - oh man so good. Road into the night with the intention of catching the riders who left me behind in Dargaville, but my rear light ran out of juice so i ended up camping in Miranda Hot Springs, not far from the Coromandel Peninsula.
Day 4 started with another early morning and was my first 200km day, although not without pushing myself a little too hard. Started well, eating up early morning miles on flat country terrain, rode with another strong rider for a substantial period, and we saw a bit of each other of the next few days. Everything was relatively easy until I hit the Waikato River Trails and the intense heat of mid-day. I really struggled with the technical MTB nature of the 2nd trail and after a dip in the Mangakino river, I rode off course on a parallel (steep!) road for the last little stretch to Mangakino. Weird town with a heavy gang past. Random kids out wandering the streets all evening and one of the other riders got his shoes stolen?! Anyway ended up getting a shared hotel room with some other guys as the rain hit Mangakino.
Day 5 - got the jump on everyone staying in Mangakino with a foggy early morning start, with lots of hills and windy gravel roads before encountering the best trail of the tour - the Timber Trail. Lots of climbing and cool rocky descents i got a good rhythm going, though it was a hard day. Welcomed the end of the trail in the tiny settlement of Ongarue, where the local backpackers put on big-ass lasagna and drinks for us, and we chatted about Serge Gainsbourg (!). Road on into the night loading up in Taumaranui and slept wild at the side of the road enroute to the start of the Kaiwakauka trail on the Wanganui river, booking my jetboat up the river for what i though was a conservative time of 2pm the next day.
Day 6 - rode to the Blue Duck Station at the start of the trail, expecting to make the journey to the boat easily. Got breakfast and rode out in the wet up a mountain, had to walk quite a bit of the climb and was getting worried about the length and difficulty of the route combined with the weather. Picked up steam near the summit then descended in the rain like a mad man, however i wore my brakes out! rode around 8km of up-n-down in the pouring rain with no brakes, dropping my emergency transponder... thankfully some MTBers passed it back to me as i reached the boat with 30 minutes to spare. Exhausted. Took my time loading up and sorting out my bike before riding on to Wanganui with a well-earned hostel bed.
Day 7 - with a lazy start, riding out of Wanganui I caught up with some slower, earlier wave riders who i'd been on the jetboat with. Spent a few days (off and on) with these good folks riding at a more relaxed pace and taking a bit of stress off my body. Fairly uneventful day, though i was now riding without any cleats as the base-plate on my pedal was too worn. Put a bit of stress on my calves, but i made it to Palmerston North ok and another hostel bed.
Day 8 was fairly uneventful, though a big hill put a lot of pressure on my legs and i ended up having quite a low, low km day. Caught up with my friendly trio again in Eketahuna and rode in a relaxed way down into the Wairarapa, eventually camping in Martinborough.
Day 9 was all about the rough and tough Rimutaka trail towards Wellington, and the Inter-Island ferry. After climbing up and over the trail, pulling away from my riding buddies, i stopped for a long break at the top, before catching them again on entering Wellington. By this stage of the tour i was feeling pretty damn rough. However getting my cleats repaired was a bit of a turning point, though i did manage a silly accident on stairs near the Ferry terminal, wrecking my right shin... Relaxed on the boat trip to the South Island then road into the night to a shitty hostel in Havelock.
Day 10 started with a very very tiring gravel climb over the Radu Saddle / Moungatapu saddle before lunch in Nelson, stocking up and prepping for the South Island. Lots of hills and gravel meant this was not a long day but i did make it to one of my fav hostels - a bike friendly joint called 'Hu ha' in the settlement of Glenhope. Also got a great dinner in Tapawera.
Day 11 was the first chilly morning, a ride down to Lake Rotoroa then more of the same with a couple really hard climbs, including the Muruia Saddle and the Lewis Pass in to Reefton. Lovely cruisey descent in the rain though and I managed to find an excellent cheap hostel, getting all my soaked smelly clothes cleaned and a half-decent pub meal for a relaxing evening, prepping for the hardest day ahead.
Day 12 was all about Big River - the trickiest trail of all. Started with a long, hard gravel climb to the ascent, but nothing i couldn't handle - i actually thought 'hey maybe this isn't so bad!' - but on reaching the top the tough walking track started. virtually impossible to ride for great stretches, with slippery tree roots and shitty weather making it very very difficult event to walk my bike. had to cross a number of fallen-away bluff landslides, slipping down a couple of them, sending myself and/or my bike down the cliff a couple meters. Terrifying. However with great relief I got through, down through Greymouth, and on into the night in the fog and rain to a weird little stop on the West Coast Wilderness Trail called 'Cowboy Paradise'.
Day 13 - now that the hard stuff was over I flew down the West Coast - 240km in the pouring rain! Quick stops along the way, loading up on fruit to keep my stomach under control, and and down through Glacier country (and tremendous winds trying to get my photo at Fox Glacier), ending up at a tiny hotel near Jacob's River, North of Lake Paringa.
Day 14 was another long one, thankfully the sun came out pretty early and I powered down the rest of the coast, meetings some other riders, loading up with food in Haast and cruising up and over the Haast Pass before the lovely ride on to Wanaka. I coulda done without the final trail though, and on reaching Hawera I had my 1st cell phone reception in 2 days, so booking the hostel in (tourist hotspot) Wanaka at 6pm was a bit tricky! Stayed at the last available spot in a shitty mega-hostel, but got a good meal in at Red Start Burger.
Day 15 was long and split between a ride over the Crown Range to Queenstown, an annoying round the riders trail to Queenstown (just let me get there already!), the boat ride on Lake Wakatipu, and a long gravel grovel from Walter Peak Station up over Mt Nicholas, past Mavora lakes and on down South. Eventually hooking up with another rider as we cruised into a lovely hotel in Mossburn. Almost there!
Day 16 started out with rain, wind (thankfully mostly tail!), hard gravel climbs heading directly South, and then one of the hardest moments in the entire event, the last stretch between Invercargill and Bluff. Amazing wind, I could hardly stand up let alone walk or cycle, but after about 2 hours to cover 10km I crawled through to Bluff, coming home just and hour before my target time of 2:30pm (when i started back on day 1). Much celebration as I rolled around the Bluff Peninsula, spotting Stirling Point. I managed a skid on arrival, and high-fived Jeff, the guy who'd been with me the previous night as he came in a few minutes after me.