As most might be aware, there is an awesome new event on the bikepacking calendar this year: Tour Aotearoa. It is a 3000 km brevet from Cape Reinga to Bluff (top to bottom) in New Zealand. It follows the route described in the 3rd edition of Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails and has been organised Jonathan Kennett. The event is being run in 3 waves of start dates: 21st, 23rd and 24th February.
The event follows most of the usual bikepacking style rules: self-sufficiency, carry your own gear, no outside assistance. There are a few other unique additions to the rules: cannot finish in under 10 days or over 30 days, can ride in pairs (no drafting) and between 9am one day and 9am the next, every rider must spend at least one block of at least six hours not travelling. That is, the maximum time any rider may spend travelling along the course will be 18 hours (between each 9am-to-9am period). Plus mandatory photo points!
You can follow the spot tracking here: http://touraotearoa2016.maprogress.com/
And the event blog here: http://www.touraotearoa.nz/
We have a quite a number of riders from Australia who have headed over: Seb Dunne, Nathan Versey, Dane Roberts, Lee Rice, Steve Watson. There are a few good friends of ours from New Zealand riding including Ollie Whalley, Rob Davidson, Scott & Jo Emmens and Margaret Leyland (riding in a pair as Peg & Kath).
Back here in Australia I am super busy with uni and work at the moment but I’ll try and do a general update of what I hear and find on out on the internet every couple of days!
Required photo point 1: Cape Reinga, the top of New Zealand
I spoke to Seb after his first day. Apparently a super tough day. The first section headed them straight out onto ‘Ninety Mile Beach’ for a hard slog the entire length of the beach on the sand with a great big southerly blowing hard into their faces. Oh, and it was HOT! Seb had some chest pain and breathing issues so stopped a bit early that night. After a good rest he was up early and caught back up to the small lead group to all catch the ferry together.
Required photo point 2: Ninety Mile Beach
On the ferry across Kaipara Harbour
After the ferry a small group waited out the rest of their 6 hr rest stop in order to ride through the night, avoiding the hectic aspects of riding through Auckland.
Hobbits wearing lyrca?!
Apparently they made it through Auckland with no dramas. Seb says he is on track to catch the speed boat at the planned time to Pipiriki. He also said that all the timing deadlines with boats makes riding a bit more complicated than normal, especially trying to coordinate it with mandatory rest periods!
It seems like a group of a few riders have been staying pretty close at the pointy end: Matty Graham, Seb Dunne, Cliff Clermont, Anja McDonald, Steve Halligan. It appears (according to the trackers but who knows how accurate the trackers are real time) Ollie Whalley and Nathan Versey are a little bit behind that.
Wave 1 have now been riding for just over 2 days. Wave 2 started a few hours ago, wave three due to start tomorrow!
Keep enjoying the event unfold and watching those dots.