The Tour Aotearoa is a self supported bike packing event held in New Zealand. The riders goal is to ride the length of NZ, from Cape Reinga to Bluff, a 3000km bike packing trip within 30 days. This event is scheduled every two years and is the brain child of the Kennett brothers, using the GPS file or the official trail guides to navigate through NZ via the official route. This can be achieved during the event or any time that suits your liking.
Taree is a customer that is in his later years of life, but couldn’t be fitter, came into Missing Link Cycles to set up his bike for this epic challenge.
After discussing the event and looking at his current setup it was decided that it would be best to get a Specialized Epic of the correct size (as his current bike was to big for him). This rig has been set up for fast touring, with quality products that will suit his style and purpose. Bar ends, aero bars and saddle are important as these are the contact points for hours on end, day after day. Bags are by Apidura and a custom frame bag, as Taree has a small frame, water carrying is a problem with small frames and he has gone with fork mounted water bottles and an under the down tube system.
Taree has had the ability to get in some quality training as his time restraints are minimal, with a few multi day rides throughout the upper north Island of NZ.
During Tarees’ visits to Missing Link Cycles he left the tour guides with me for a few days. This was a very mean thing to do, as over my cycling history I had done some cycle touring trips. These mainly consisted of using TOPO maps and finding trails through the upper Northland forests and coastal areas towing my gear in a BOB trailer. Great when you are riding your bicycle, but a real pain when you have to push your fully laden rig or crossing wind fall, rivers and gates.
These Aotearoa Tour guide books were looked over with gusto and envy, the ever increasing interest was growing and I started to look at the posts from the 2016 event, doubt raged in my head about my ability to ride any sort of distance, I was 105kg, hadn’t ridden over an hour in endurance since 2010 and sporadically. During this time I had been a house dad to my young daughter and done an education degree, relief taught and then started a new business, hence my weight gain of nearly 25kg, add poor knees and my fear of failure, I spent some time considering my worth to even start this event, let alone completing the task.
I started to ride to work more, went riding in the local forests and had Taree and friends to thank for their motivating encouragement. I contacted Jonathan and was registered, paid my donation and did a little more riding. My circumstances mean that I have my young daughter 24/7 for one week, then a week off, which means that I have to try to do all my riding in that week, run a new business and house work, I mean what a mess the house is. This massive increase in exercise has caused some problems for my knees and I have had to change my way of training drastically to save the knees. Slow and easy till I build strength and all of this with 4 months from the start, on the 28th February . I had hoped to go hard and drop five kgs, built strength and kms in a very short space of time , but reality has finally set my plans onto a different direction. 1/ Do what I can, with the time I have. 2/ Sort my bikes contact points, for time in the saddle, as my average speed will be slower than anticipated. 3/ The destination is only the end of the day, enjoy my adventure. 4/ build the fitness as I go, so as to complete my goal.
My Bicycle; Surly Karatee Monkey 650B in medium, Fox 34 Factory forks, Custom built Hope/ Arc 35 wheelset, built by myself, I have been building quality wheels for nearly 25 years, so have chosen proven wheel components. Specialized Fast track fattie tyres, Jones Bars with a Sram GX 2×11 drive system and my trusty Brooks saddle. I have chosen an Apidura Bike Packing system throughout and will be looking at camping and cooking during my tour, so will be carrying a little more gear ( which translates into weight) than others.
The tour Aotearoa is a challenge of physical ability, but I think the hardest part will be psychological, with 30 days on your own, being away from family and pets, and the massive time spent in your own head, during trying physical extremes. Those who complete this journey must have fortitude and endurance in all facets of the human ability for challenging oneself, I hope I have these traits.