Monday, 29 August 2016

Tour Aotearoa Day 22
Epilogue & Shit List


Day 22: Completion
Mossburn to Bluff 137km

I was grateful to have spent the night indoors as it had rained quite heavily in the night. I backtracked the 3km to Mossburn where I met some fellow TA riders who had stayed at the hotel in Mossburn among them some I hadn't seen since the North Island including Seth, Steve, Grant, Mark and others whose names escape me now, they were just rolling out as I arrived in town. I took a dose of voltaren with my breakfast as my knee was still quite swollen but thankfully not as sore as the day before.

The conditions for the ride to the next stop in Winton were the worst of the TA for me. The cold, the rain and a strong headwind made the gravel roads a tough slog. This was the only time I had any trouble with my hands, experiencing some tingling in my palms. I was passed by two more riders along this section. 
Bicycles
I caught up with those that had left Mossburn before me at a cafe in Winton, again arriving just as they were leaving. Thankfully the rain stopped stopped for the final 64km to Bluff. The ride into Invercargill was all flat and on the road, and was largely uneventful. I enjoyed the ride along the Invercargill cycle trail, skirting the city and getting some encouragement from a commuter on his way home. Unfortunately it had taken a beating in an earlier storm, so I had to leave the trail early and get back onto SH1 for the first time since the Cook Strait Ferry   
Nearly there
The headwind was back for the final 22km into Bluff,  though fortunately not as bad as the previous few days, where there were reports of riders having to walk for fear of being blown into the traffic. I rolled into Stirling Point at about 7:30, some locals were kind enough to take a photo of me at the sign, I was to meet them again the next day at the airport on their way to Rarotonga.
Lookee Ma I Done It
The finish was in a way, anticlimactic, a sense of completion rather than euphoria. I turned around quickly, heading back to the entrance to Bluff, where Grant, having finished earlier, was kind enough to give me and another rider a lift back to Invercargill. We booked into the Tuatara lodge and got cleaned up. I went out for a feed with 2 fellow riders, one from the UK and another from Canberra who had made it his mission to try every ice cream in New Zealand, and got a feed at the Speights Ale House, It was nice to share the final moments of TA with some fellow riders. 

I caught a flight back to Wellington the next day after first stopping in at the Invercargill iSite to pick my memorial plaque.
Shiny




Epilogue

I got to travel the country from one end to the other, regardless of conditions, and see this amazing place from a perspective that not many get to see. I did it solo, but not alone. So here are some musings from the experience.


Acknowledgements

First of all I want to thank my family, and especially my lovely wife, Tanya, for allowing me to participate in the Tour Aotearoa. I would also like to thank everyone who supported me, helped along the way and rode with me. Thanks also to the Kennett Bothers for organising, Erik  for the cue sheets and Jessie for  the T-Shirt design.

I would also like to appologise to those whom I met along the way but whose names I have been unable to remember.


Me Bike

I used the same 2016 Giant XTC (JTA) I used for KB14, going against the general trend for 29er bikes, mostly, because it's what I had in the shed. The only change to the bike was the addition of some Ergon GP3 grips, which almost completely eliminated the hand problems I encountered on KB14. 


Preparation

I felt a little underdone, having done just one ride longer than 100km in the lead up, a ride around the Wairarapa Coast, notable mostly because it was the first time I had covered the route during daylight hours. My first ride fully loaded was the 20km ride from Waitiki to Cape Reinga. My preparation had also been hampered by us moving into  a new house, me organising a surprise fiftieth birthday party for Tanya and starting a new job in the months beforehand. My training consisted mostly of my daily commute from Upper Hutt to Wellington, a flat ride along the river trail with not nearly enough hills.

My first ride fully loaded was the 20km ride from Waitiki to Cape Reinga, 90 mile beach was a rude awakening.


Luggage.

I used a Revelate Designs Harness on the front too secure one dry bag, which was much more convenient than the areo bar attachment method I had used previously. On the back I used a Thule Freeload rack to carry my tent and the other dry bag. Two drink bottles on the frame, a camelbak for additional fluids/foods and a top tube bag for incidentals made up the rest. 
All my stuff and a clean bike in Opononi

The first 3 Days

I got myself sunburnt in the first few days as the shorts I was wearing were about 5cm shorter than normal and I had rolled up my sleeves, forgetting to slap on the sunscreen. I was also dehydrated despite drinking about 6l of fluids per day and struggled to eat enough, particularly experiencing trouble with hot chips. There was significant time pressure to make the ferry sailing across the Kaipara, as sailings were few and places limited, this was also largest gathering of riders since the start and the last major bottleneck before everyone spread out. 


Three days off road

The Waikato river Trail, The Timber Trail and the Bridge to nowhere were probably the hardest section of riding with the least distance covered per day  and possibly the highest ratio of genuine mountain biking.


5 days on the West Coast.

From Kawatiri to Pleasant Flat I loved the West Coast, the coast had 3 of my favourite trails, Big River/Waiuta, The Maruia Saddle and The Wilderness Trail. This was coupled with the beautiful rain forest and magnificent scenery in the glacier and Haast regions 


Accommodation

I camped for 11 of the 21 nights in my $50 warehouse tent, which represented great value for money and did keep me warm and dry. The tent, though, was bulkier and heavier than a lot of those others used, and due to the separate fly took me longer to set up and take down.  This was a much more pleasant arrangement than the bivvy bag I used last time, I think also that the extra comfort led to less eagerness to get going in the mornings. The other 10 nights were spent in peoples homes, motels, hotels, camp ground cabins and the Kaipara Cruising Club. The longest stretch without a shower was between Upper Hutt and Springs Junction, 3 days. 

Food

I tried to get a decent cooked meal at least once a day, and stocked up with sandwiches, rolls and custard squares when I could. I supplemented this with muesli bars, chocolate, peanut M&Ms, bumper bars and confectionary company dinosaurs. I kept some OSMs  in reserve for emergencies, but avoided using these  as they remind me too much of chip board. 

I would consider a cooking setup next time as I found myself getting to my accommodation in the evenings after everything had closed. I'm more night owl than early bird, so I struggle with early starts, but early starts would lessen the likelyhood of arriving after closing time, particularly in the smaller towns. 

The Body

I utilised mostly ground effects clothing and was double shorting after about 7 days due to a sore arse. Sweet Cheeks Butt Butter kept the nether and nipple regions in good shape, no chaffing or saddle sores. I had some toe numbness for a few weeks afterward and my hands held up well due to a new grip/glove combo. My right shoulder got quite sore by the end, which may have been a result of the camelbak. And my left knee blew up for the last few days, which I suspect was a combination of overuse and my seat post slipping. 

Navigation 

I used a combination of cue sheets, my cellphone GPS with the app maps.me, and following tyre tracks in the dust/mud. This method only let me down once when I took a wrong turn to Waihi on the Hauraki Rail Trail. 


Shit List

Hard Shit
  • 90 Mile breach
  • The Waikato River Trail
  • The Bridge to Nowhere
  • The Maungatapu Track
  • The last 10km to Poutu Point
Stupid Shit
  • Wrong turn at Paeroa.
  • Left behind cellphone at Kohukohu.
  • Setting off the metal detectors at CHCH airport 3 times.
So good I'd do that shit again, anytime.
  • Big River/Waiuta
  • Maruia Saddle 
  • The Timber Trail
  • The Wilderness trail
I'd like to go back and try that shit again.  
  • The Bridge to Nowhere. To do it fresh and without time pressure.
  • The Waikato River Trail, see above. 
  • Tane Mahuta, to check it out during the day
Surprising Shit
  • The random generosity of strangers.
  • My $50 Warehouse tent
Busted Shit
  • Deraileur hanger, snapped on the Maungatapu.
  • Top tube bag (2 blown out zips)
  • Lights (battery and cable)
Lost Shit
  • 6kg
  • Camelbak Spigot
  • Sunglasses (Kawakawa Bay)
  • Gloves (spare pair on The Timber Trail)

Tasty Shit
  • Ralph's on Dominion Rd, Auckland.
  • Ongarue Flashpackers, Ongarue 
  • Fords Cafe, Nelson
  • The Cheese Barn on The Hauraki Rail Trail
  • The Broadway Tearooms and Bakery, Reefton 

Bad Shit
  • Left knee.
  • Insect bikes.
  • Depression in Walter Peak
  • Mangakino Reprobates.

Good Shit
  • Ergon GP3 grips
  • Revelate Designs harness.
  • Riding with my friends Edd and Karl.
  • Meeting family in Ashurst, Martinborough and Upper Hutt.
  • Sweet Cheecks Butt Butter.
  • Sharing the adventure with fellow TA riders.
  • Retailers that went out of their way to help out, especially the now closed Reid's store in Maria Springs.
  • The hospitality at the Formerly The Blackball Hilton.
  • The traffic, I can't recall a single bad experience.  
  • Cake.
Cake



3 comments:

  1. Great read, well done on your adventure. Glad to have been part of so many peoples journey with GPS and drone footage. Tony SpotNZ

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  2. Yes, well done. It was a great adventure and reading your story brings back a lot of memories. It is amazing how different many riders stories are. We finished in 21 days from wave 2, and without going back and ticking each off I think we stayed in the same towns only 3 times.
    Wasn't it a ball.

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  3. Cheers. I've been deliberately not reading any other accounts until now to try and not be influenced by other peoples stories, I'm looking forward to reading all the other blogs now.

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