Thursday, 17 May 2018

Carbon Zero and Sustainability

When we set up West Wind Projects, one of the goals we had ticking over in the back of our mind was, how do minimise our impact? and secondly, how can we give back?

At the start of our third year we have started to find our feet and a clearer direction of where the business is heading. While reviewing how the second year progressed, these two thoughts came to the surface again …

It was time to look at what impact we were having … what our carbon footprint was.
Working from home certainly helped but made it difficult to dived what was work and what was personal in terms of our CO2 emissions. In the end, I just dealt with home and work as a single identity.

Step one was to calculate our emissions.

Seven and a half tonnes of CO2 emissions!

Due to the nature of our work and that we have to visit sites away from the office there will always be an impact, sometimes I am able to plan site visits that are close to each other in the same trip but that is rare.

Step Two, was to purchase Carbon Offset credits to neutralise this.

We decided that we would purchase them from the Rameka Forest Restoration Charitable Trust.

  • ·         The Trust is a Non-Profit organisation which means that all the dollars we spent go back in to maintain and growing this forest.

  • ·         It is a local project, near Takaka, Golden Bay, so it is easy to visit and see for ourselves where our money is being spent.

  • ·         The Rameka Track, which goes through the property is a historic trading track in the area, which flows from Cannan Downs on top of Takaka Hill to Takaka township, so has historic value.

  • ·         The track is one of our favourite mountain bike rides.

  • ·         The property is open to walkers and mountain bikers to use, so everyone benefits.

So, what did it cost? $25.00 per tonne, 8 tonne cost just $200.00.

Step Three, this is a bit trickier … What can we do to minimise that in the next 12 months?

Basically, it is finding small gains … (remember this is for work and home)
  • ·         Asking yourself … Do I really need to print that document out?
  • ·         Using refillable ink cartridges in the printer
  • ·         Finding paper which is recycled or from a sustainable source
  • ·         In my testing instruments using rechargeable batteries.
  • ·         Recycling old batteries
  • ·         Not using or accepting plastic bags when purchasing items.
  • ·         Using low power lights e.g. LED’s
  • ·         Separating the rubbish out
  • ·         Recycling soft plastic, aluminium, tins, glass, paper/cardboard, etc
  • ·         Composting green waste
  • ·         Selecting cleaning products which are recognised as good for the environment

That is just the start as the list goes on, but most important is creating an awareness of your actions, creating good habits to leave the world in a better place than when we entered it.

Step Four, came about from the second thought, how can we give back?

At this point we are only Carbon Neutral.

In the past we have helped out at Rameka Trust planting trees or building bridges, and that in itself is rewarding. How does a Trust like this grow? It either buys more land with trees on it to absorb more carbon or it plants more trees, and it has done both in the past.

This is when we came up with the idea, of donating One Tree for One Report. Very simply for every report we write throughout the year we will donate a tree to the Rameka Forest Restoration Charitable Trust to be planted.

So, we have gone from being Carbon Positive to Carbon Neutral to Carbon Negative and everyone benefits.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Tour Aotearoa 2018 North Island version

Two years come around fast these days … It was soon February the 9th and we were busy catching a flight to Auckland to start this year's tour.

Te Paki Stream
As with all adventures, it starts well before the departure date, planning, riding, logistics, gear choices are where it all starts. Like any adventure – it is a journey with a certain degree of unknowns, and that to me is what defines an adventure. At times there are some adventures which involve a degree of risk and when we look at risk it usually involves the ability to lose something or (at times) someone of value. Bikepacking Tour Aotearoa to me has a pretty low-risk factor, sure there are some sections on the road and some on the trail but the real risk is low. This I think is one of the reasons why there has been an explosion in Bike packing numbers in recent years … Adventure with low risk that is accessible to a moderately fit person who wants some fun with like-minded people!
The 2018 start has seen 6 waves of 100 riders … that is huge!

While leading up to this year's event I did less long rides but more hill climbing with the goal of getting stronger on the hills, so I didn’t lag behind Helen as much during the climbs.
My gear was 95% unchanged since 2016, being pretty comfortable with my set up, the big change was a new frame for my bike, instead of riding my Carbon Specialized Stumpjumper hardtail 29er I had found a Jamis Dragon 29er hardtail in Steel (Reynolds 853) and put a Muru Titanium front fork on it.

Te Paki Stream

2016 was a dream run 22 days, with3 half days of rain. 2018 was always going to be different … we just didn’t know how different!

Our plan was to start in wave 1 of February the 10th and ride the North Island jump on the ferry and ride to Nelson, finishing at home, some 1760 km. Holiday time is a bit short this year with planned adventures for later in 2018. So with two weeks our sleeve we set off.

Meeting the rest of our friends in Auckland and having picked up our two vehicles, loaded our bikes in, we headed north a 6-hour drive to Waitiki Landing 20 km short of the Cape, here we had accommodation and assembled the bikes. For most of the trip it had rained, waking in the morning it was still raining, breakfast and a short drive to the Cape later it was still raining!
A big thanks to Chris and Harvey who gave up their time to drive our vehicles back to Auckland. Cheers guys!

90 Mile Beach

Well, 8 am rolled around and a 100 riders rolled out down the road … turning into TePaki Stream and on to 90 Mile Beach we were in for our first surprise, a fairly high stream, at times over of bottom bracket and hubs, a soft stream bed, it is normally firm and easy to ride one, a tough start then out on to the beach, still raining. The pace and choice of a line couldn’t be decided upon so I pretty much stuck to my line and pace, at times the rain eased to showers and even paused for a moment, the wind flirted around fortunately never a headwind. Stopping in Utea for some water and a breather we continued on to Ahipara.

Like all relationships, Helen and I don’t agree on everything and we struggled to communicate on the beach which left both of us frustrated, so we cleared the air and decide to push on, in the rain, to Broadwood, where it was raining.

Having the knowledge, we earned in 2016 was starting to give us an advantage, where we could get supplies, where we could eat, where we could sleep, just a little less worrying. Pitching our tent under the picnic shelter day 1 was complete 140kms done!
Breakfast day two ... salami cheese and an Em's power cookie

Day two, still raining, the shop was closed in Broadwood so we had a snack of salami, cheese, and half an Ems Power cookie washed down by a cup of black tea, this fuelled us to Kohukohu, at the head of the Hokianga Harbour, were it had stopped raining, a full breakfast and coffee was ordered and consumed. We headed off down the road and caught the Rawene ferry across the harbour, stocked up on some essentials and pedaled off around what I think is one of the most picturesque coastlines in NZ, through Opononi and Omapere in search for a photo with Tane Mahuta in the Waipoua Forrest.
Tane Mahuta

Back on the bikes for a descent down through all the Kauris and long climb to Kaitui, we turned off the sealed road for a gravel back through Donnellys Crossing and eventually into Dargaville, 135 km done for Day Two some of it wet and some of it dry!

Northland is an interesting province with so much history and stunning coastline, forest and some of the friendliest locals, it is also one of the poorest areas in the country, this Tour puts so much back into the communities along the way, we had decided to stay at the Great Northern Wairoa Hotel in Dargaville, this 100+ year old girl, when we were discussing this with the owner. A quick calculation our spending for the day was about $210 for the both of us, there were another 598 riders … it soon adds up for these small places. Most of that went on food to fuel our motors.

Overnight we washed and dried all our gear, showered and slept, for today was planned to be a short 68 km out to Poutu Point, relax in the sun, then catch the 6 pm sailing to Helensville.
A pretty simple plan … we even had some shade to ride in as the sun had come out, the toughest part was following the Grader on the gravel section of road. Ice blocks and cold drinks, time to sort gear out prior to the Lady Frances arriving.

Sure enough, we loaded up about 20 riders and their bikes, plenty of chit-chat, seeing if there was anyone still coming down the road, soon we cast off … 10 minutes later… the engine packed a sad, threw a wobbly and spat a piston! Sitting on top of the engine cover the noise was not nice metal on metal, crunching away we soon came to a halt. I looked across at Bruce, who raised an eyebrow and quite understated says … “that doesn’t sound good!”
Sure enough, it wasn’t good, here we are early evening sitting on the notorious Kaipara Harbour Bar without any means of propulsion. But skipper a wily old sea dog had a plan, he had a mate who would tow us into Helensville, we just had to wait for him to arrive … so there we sat enjoying the atmosphere of the sun setting, cups of tea and gingernuts with great conversation. What more could you ask for?

Dusk fell, we watched the weather start to change, a few electrical storms over the land, darkness fell just and four hours after breaking down another charter boat pulled alongside, hooked us up and headed off to Helensville just so we didn’t miss out it started to rain. Now we have all heard about a slow boat to China this was the slow boat to Helensville, arriving at 2.30 am, so much for a short day!
A feed of cold soggy chips we laid our heads down for a quick sleep in the Cruising Club rooms.
Four hours later people started to stir and pack up gear for the trip across Auckland, in 2016 this was the surprise of the Tour, it was easy to ride all the way across the City of Sails with very little time spent on busy roads.
Aucklands Cornwall Park near One Tree Hill

Sure enough, it was raining, yep day four, four days with rain! We traced the GPS track into town up over Mt Eden, through some parks, down out past the airport, up and out of town to Clevedon. It eventually cleared after Mt Eden and we were able to ride in some sunshine. Checked into the Hotel, needing to wash and dry gear, not a bad day for four hours sleep, another hundy km in the bank.
Day five, I had been looking forward to the first half of this day, around the coastline to Miranda, we are so blessed with stunning coastlines in NZ and this is no exception. We spent the day leap-frogging fellow riders Geoff and Maureen from Hawea, the last half of our day was spent on the Hauraki Rail Trail … now the Surveyor who mapped out this route had the easiest job … it is bloody arrow straight for way too long! It does my head in, worse than Canterbury roads!

We crossed countless cattle stops, watched dairy farmers herd their cows through the river … WTF! Along the way, we got our compulsory photos of a cow and the L&P bottle in Paeroa and continued out to the campground at Te Aroha. Just prior to Te Aroha we caught up with Phil “the machine” Paterson completing the Tour on a single speed (12 ½ days – legendary) the flats are the hardest part for a single speed.

We thought we had escaped the rain for the day but no … half an hour before we finished for the day … down it came … Still feeling the effects of only four hours sleep two nights ago, we grabbed a cabin at the motor camp, showered, changed washed gear and order pizzas to be delivered! Still not a bad day 136 km.

Waking early, we were away by 7, with plans for a solid day, it would still be flat until past Matamata where we would join the Waikato river trails – single track was beckoning 😊. Stopping for breakfast in Matamata, my stomach started to churn, a couple of quick trips to the loo, we pushed on hoping that was all. Fortunately, there are loos along the river trail and Awakino.

Waikato River Trails

Lunch was at the now infamous Rurhburb Café in Awakino we Helens cousin Philip meet us for a brief catch up. Leaving here I wasn’t feeling the strongest but the Tour goes on … suck it up buttercup!
The river trails are old school mountain bike tracks which tend to follow walking routes, not always the best gradients to ride, at times I needed to push what Helen was riding, she was getting stronger.  We rolled into Mangakino, 128 km later, just before dusk, I was buggered, hungry and just wanted to sleep, decision making wasn’t high on my agenda. This is where riding a Tour like this in a Team is beneficial, Helen just made the call, fish and chips now then we will book into the Bed and breakfast across the road. Feed and showered I started to perk up.

Timber Trail
The afternoon I had been my low point of the whole tour, running on empty for most of it.
The morning came around too soon and we mounted our steads at 7.30 and headed off, now today I was really looking forward to … The Timber Trail … at 85 km, this is probably the North Islands premier “long” ride., stunning bush and forest, a great track with plenty of history. But it was just going to be a long day where my back started to tighten up, I was just not getting the power out and felt like Helen just dragged me along all day, it really gets into head and screws you over. Well, we kept on plugging away popping out the other end of the trail, with 127 km completed, 879 km from Cape Reinga as the Tour route goes.

Ongarue Spiral

We elected to stay in Ongarue about 20 km shy of Taumaranui. The community here had opened up the towns hall for the first time in 20 years, spruced it up, put some mattresses on the floor, hung some solar showers up and a group of them were putting on dinner and breakfast, this is the start of how a small settlement like Ongarue benefits from being on the Tours route. It was heaven!
P.S. Like yesterday no rain today … two days in a row … unheard of!

Day eight dawned, clear we headed off into the thriving metropolis of Taumaranui, resupply at the supermarket, coffee and a chat with Helens cousin, then onto the back roads out through Hikumutu Owhango, Retaruke to Whakahoro and the Blue Duck café. Again, I was really struggling, my back was tight, like yesterday I popped a few Voltaren, I certainly wasn’t getting any relief.
Settlers Monument

Unfortunately, the discomfort takes away your focus of where you are and what you are doing.
We enjoyed a toasted sandwich and drink at the café and pushed onto the Kaiwhakauka Track which leads you through the Whanganui National Park to the Bridge to Nowhere.
10 km in is Mosely's shelter, a three-sided hut with running water and a long drop … what more could one ask for? The Kaiwhakauka track is a muddy, slippery piece of single track, which had had a whole lot of work completed prior to the Tour, it was still a muddy, slippery piece of single track. This is one of the tougher sections of the route but one of the most enjoyable too … if you are a mountain biker.

We had not long finished dinner when Steve Halligan came through on his mission, calm and coherent, we had a chat, Steve filled his water bottles and pushed on for his quest to get to Bluff as quick as possible. (10 ½ days … well one!)

You guessed it … the day finished with some rain … this was so far our shortest day with 93 km completed. It also set us up nicely for tomorrows riding.
I just love sleeping outside in the bush, it is so peaceful and relaxing, while our days may be long and hard, nights like that made it so worthwhile.

Narrow bridges 
Morning arrived and we were on a deadline, 11.30 at Maungaprua landing for the jetboat pick up, 40 km to get there. Along the way we stopped to admire the new monument to the Returned Servicemen who were gifted this land on their return, only to walk off it later, it was just too tough to break in and farm successfully and to this day is not farmed.
The Bridge to Nowhere sums the area up.

Single track
Our jetboat arrived, Tom senior from Whanganui River Adventures picked us up, Tom is part of the family which owns the company and have lived on the river for many generations now, their passion for sharing the river is evident, with a strong customer focus, they go out of their way for the TA riders. A set schedule of pickups making it easy for us to plan, they spot track the riders through the track, provide a bike wash, feed and accommodate all with a smile. Thanks.

We left Pipiriki and headed along the river to Whanganui, day three of a tight back which was getting worse, certainly by the time I had climbed gentle Annie and was heading into town, I was not comfortable at all. Helen literally towed me into town along the flat.
We stopped in the same motel we stayed in last time, unpacked, washed and walked around the corner to the Chinese takeaways. Previous knowledge is a good thing.

The Bridge to Nowhere
There is one rule all riders should abide by, sleep on any decision before making one. I didn’t have a comfortable night and in the morning, we discussed the situation about my back. In the last 12 months, I had been to the Emergency Department twice to get the pain under control. A CAT scan shows a deteriorating disk, I have to learn to manage it, do what I can when I can, sometimes that may mean doing less than I aimed for.

Pipriki to Whanganui River Road and complimentry Gorse Fire
So I pulled the pin and now got to watch Helen some us some of her potential.
1115 kilometres of riding completed in 9 days, I am pretty damn happy about that! Especially as I got to share it with my best friend.

Helen, continued, riding from Whanganui to Ashurst that day, 178 km. Then onto Martinborough, 177 km. Popped over the Rimutaka Incline to Upper Hutt, 60 km, to spend half a day with her niece. Catching the ferry the following day and riding through to Pelorus River campground, where I had driven over to meet her for the night. Leaving early the following morning, Helen headed up and over the Maungatapu Saddle to arrive at Alton Street Cycle in Nelson at midday. 1760 kilometres completed!
Home with her girls

Sunday, 28 January 2018

2018 ... here we go again!

2018 has rolled around and so has Tour Aotearoa has been two years since we last completed the first edition, somewhere along the way we thought it would be good to sign up for the second edition, so did 600 other riders!

So on Friday the 9th of February we will jump on a plane to Auckland then drive to Cape Reinga to be on the start line at 8 am Saturday.

The cool things about Brevets are they are NOT a race, there are time limits and for TA no faster than 10 days or slower than 30 days, stick to the route, if you leave the route you must rejoin the route where you left it. Because TA is uniquely Kiwi it incorporates Kiwi ideals like being able to drop in and stay with family, it is encouraged to smell the roses along the way, talk to the locals, enjoy the where you are at and with who you are traveling with and who you meet.

For Helen and I we have made the decision only to complete the North Island, partly due to us wanting to save some leave for later in the year when we are building our house and secondly we don't visit the North Island very often so this creates a great opportunity to visit some of the backcountry and out off the beaten track places.

It will still be 1700 kilometres of riding to get home again.

While the same level of anticipation is not there, I am sure it will still be a fantastic adventure, different from 2016. Some things will be the same I am sure of that ... those days when you get on the bike in the morning and you don't want to sit down! The hills will still go up!

Once we start you will be able to follow us on this page tour aotearoa 2018 we take no responsibility for time wasted stalking us or other riders :-)

The Dragon ... my stead for the trip.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Why the outdoors is good for my mental well-being and confidence …

15 years ago I was working full time teaching in the outdoors with a fledgling company, a young family. Having just completed a trip of a lifetime on the Grand Canyon … life was pretty good on the whole! Sure, not everything was perfect, my wife at the time was from England struggled with the cultural differences and distance from her family and I didn’t really get it and was/am not the best communicator, but we were making a go of it.

My confidence/well-being (I see these intrinsically linked) was high! When life got turned upside down in a moment. For those who don’t know a client drowned while I was instructing … not the work story you want to live out …

I see confidence is like an egg shell … press on it one way it is incredibly strong but smack it from the other direction it shatters … my life-dream on kayaking full time, having it as a family business disappeared overnight … along with my confidence and well-being … it was a dark and moody place one at times I just didn’t want to see. At times I just wanted it to end or I end it.

I withdraw into myself … trying to answer the why, how, when, what … not communicating well with anyone … eventually, I went back to what I knew … sitting in a boat or on a bike or running, racing as an individual the only focus was me … it was how I could survive … one session at a time … it felt familiar … it allowed some of that eggshell to be repaired, to grow stronger.

I ended up, back building, not by choice but a necessity, I did not enjoy my apprenticeship and really struggled with going back on the tools. It felt like life was one big deep dark rut with no way out.
Racing in multisport and triathlon events certainly gave some hope, it got me back into the hills and rivers back into areas where I felt at home, it grew my confidence, but the demons were still there.
I started to identify what I required to be in a positive frame of mind and kept looking at where I could do this …

The first was to surround me with people who had a positive outlook on life … get rid of the negatives … this meant not seeing or minimising contact with some friends and family or work colleagues.

The second was to create goals, firstly in the area of recreation as it was the most familiar area, secondly in my career.

The third was to learn what triggers the dark periods … this is an ongoing process …

The fourth was to learn how to minimise the effect of those triggers … removing myself from a situation, withdrawing to think about what has gone on – sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

The fifth was to learn how to get out of the spiral … which is the second step … set goals small steps.

Along the way the goals became bigger and bolder, the went from being solo to being duo/group/team goals. Each time I went back to my roots of being in the outdoors, being active in the outdoors, sharing activity in the outdoors … the stronger my confidence and the better my well-being has become.

So, what is about the outdoors which builds this confidence and well-being, I believe it is life becomes simplified, less complicated back to the basics of shelter, warmth, food, companionship, shared experiences, trust and reliance on yourself and others.

Where has it lead me to … a point in life as I enter my 52nd winter, where I am nearly back to the point I was 16 years ago with confidence but a stronger and more knowledgeable way of dealing with the dark holes. I still recognise that I am not the best communicator but I am working on it!

Life is not easy, it is full of challenges – some we choose to take on and others we have no choice to take on – but what is our choice is what we can learn from them, sometimes the learning does not appear immediately …


Monday, 1 May 2017

Wow! Where did the last 12 months go?

It has been 12 months since I last wrote anything, can't believe where that time has gone.

Last may I hadn't long returned to living in Nelson again, I am still here, settling back into the Nelson lifestyle and loving it!

During that year I set up and continue to develop and run my own business. I knew from having lived in Nelson previously, there are not a lot of jobs going so knew I had to create work ... so West Wind Projects Ltd was born.

One year down the track it is starting to feel like a full time job ... so what am I doing?
I specialise in Property Inspections mainly Pre-Purchase, so when someone is purchasing a house and requires a building report. Other reports have been Pre-Sale, Earthquake Damage and Certificate of Acceptance.

While it was slow last year, I took the opportunity to upskill myself and through the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors, have been studying for a Diploma of Building Surveying. This has been great in giving me a stronger professional network, access to a large number of resources and expertise.

Too say the last year has been challenging is a bit of an understatement! But I have loved just about every minute of it ... there is always tough times ... but that is often where the most learning was.

Meanwhile on the recreational side of life, my mountain biking skills have developed ... just that there is no choice living here in Nelson :-) After seven years I got back on the river to do some whitewater paddling, slipped into the hills for the odd walk, Found some coastline to explore sea kayaking. #lifeisgood

If that wasn't enough we purchased a VW van and fitted that out for trips away ... GAV as he affectionally known (Get Away Van) ...
Meanwhile we spent sometime at Project Remeka planting trees and building a bridge. I also manage to get away for a few days to work as crew on the NZEnduro race one of the wettest vents I have worked on ... but helps of fun!

So what will the next 12 months bring Helen and I ... plans for a new house are currently being drawn up at the moment ... I think that will keep me busy and loose some of this extra waist line I am developing while sitting behind a desk ... more on that as it happens.

Also we have signed up for Tour Aotearoa again ... yep once in a lifetime event  ... twice!
Cheers Brett

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Statistic's from our Tour Aotearoa ride 2016

So after a few months recovery of just cruising on our bikes having fun riding the local trails, I have put together the statistics of our days ... how varied they were ... mostly because we stopped to catch up with family and friends except for a very wet day down the coast.

Hopefully it will help with someones else planning of completing the route. We pretty much rode during daylight hours and  had plenty of time to look around and enjoy the scenery.

Activity Name Start time Total Time Riding Time Distance Ascent  Avg Moving Speed Accom
Mossburn to Bluff Mon, 14 Mar 2016 6:45:23 5:59:00 142.5 567 23.8  
Arrowtown to Mossburn Sun, 13 Mar 2016 5:37 11:35:31 8:15:54 152.48 930 18.4 Pub
Haast to Arrowtown Sat, 12 Mar 2016 4:39 13:57:31 11:04:26 207.51 2,607 18.7 family
Franz Josef to Haast Fri, 11 Mar 2016 5:26 11:56:39 7:31:48 153.32 1,640 20.4 Backpackers
Harihari to Franz Joseph Thu, 10 Mar 2016 5:31 9:47:52 3:18:56 63.86 609 19.3 motel
Kumara to Harihari Wed, 9 Mar 2016 5:29 11:34:20 8:01:56 148.01 899 18.4 Pub
Reefton to Kumara Tue, 8 Mar 2016 5:01 11:01:39 6:07:08 109.96 584 18 motel
Murchison to Reefton Mon, 7 Mar 2016 5:19 10:07:16 7:00:34 123.99 1,346 17.7 motel
Wakefield to  Murchison Sun, 6 Mar 2016 6:33 10:50:53 8:10:47 138.81 1,638 17 cabin
Momorangi to Wakefield Sat, 5 Mar 2016 6:31 11:56:46 7:27:07 116.99 1,818 15.7 camp
Upper Hutt to Momorangi Fri, 4 Mar 2016 6:04 12:56:29 10:53:38 123.21 1,297 11.3 camp
Pahiatua to Upper Hutt Thu, 3 Mar 2016 5:27 14:16:05 10:32:15 192.13 1,495 18.2 family
Rangiwahia to Pahiatua Wed, 2 Mar 2016 6:45 10:35:13 7:43:24 130.24 1,468 16.9 motel
Whanganui to Rangiwhia Tue, 1 Mar 2016 7:18 11:24:20 7:03:31 106.26 1,623 15.1 camp
DoC Shelter to Whanganui Mon, 29 Feb 2016 6:31 13:18:46 9:31:03 141.32 2,362 14.8 motel
Taumarunui to DoC Shelter Sun, 28 Feb 2016 9:46 8:43:29 5:48:09 79.46 1,254 13.7 camp
CNI to Taumaranui Sat, 27 Feb 2016 6:33 7:40:07 5:47:24 63.76 970 11 family
Arapuni to CNI Fri, 26 Feb 2016 5:49 13:33:03 8:35:29 94.55 1,958 11 camp
Miranda to Arapuni Thu, 25 Feb 2016 6:15 12:38:04 8:21:15 152.19 378 18.2 Backpackers
Helensville to Arapuni Wed, 24 Feb 2016 5:07 14:55:38 9:35:03 160.62 1,344 16.8 Motel
Waipoura Forest Camp to Helensville Tue, 23 Feb 2016 6:46 13:33:57 10:28:34 166.77 1,408 15.9 cruising club
Ahipara to Waipoura Kauri Forest Camp Mon, 22 Feb 2016 6:43 12:39:29 8:02:58 125.05 2,163 15.5 cabin
Cape Reinga to Ahipara Sun, 21 Feb 2016 9:55 10:19:35 7:48:48 106.42 369 13.6 camp
    266:08:05 183:09:07 2999.41 30727 16.38  
Ave riding time per day   8:24:00 1397 average climbing per day

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Tour Aotearoa - Done and Dusted!

Well ... the time had finally arrived ... TOUR TIME!

It was with a bit of apprehension and excitement that I left Christchurch for Cape Reinga! To say the least - 3000 kilometres - known! Unknown was the 22 days 1 hour 45 minutes and 30,000 metres of climbing it would take!

This tour was not to dissimilar from other experiences I had completed ... Sea Kayaking in Alaska or Kayaking the Grand Canyon ... they all had a start point and a finish point ... they all had a big unknown in the middle ... How was the body going to hold up? How was the mind going to hold up? Had I made the right equipment choices?

We were about to find out ... things were about to get real!

Helen and I had a few goals for the event ...

Ride during daylight hours to enjoy where we are
Complete at least one 200 km day
Enjoy time with who we meet along the way
Aiming for 21 days but would not be upset with 24 and ecstatic with anything less than 21
Eat well to maintain a healthy body

Low Moments

Gordon, Jill, Emily and Helen on 90 Mile beach
The low points on this journey, were not many fortunately, but the first came early ... three hours into the event on 90 Mile Beach, if the head wind, flat unrelenting pedalling to get anywhere wasn't enough ... my lower back started to lock up ... dam frustrating as we had got ourselves into a nice wee group with some Nelson friends Jill and Gordon, and Emily from Wellington. I was soon reduced to stopping and stretching and Emily shared some Voltaren with me.

Ginny Wood nearing Ahipara
As we were holding up the other three, Helen and I bid them farewell and were reduced to walking, watching other groups go past.  At one point we even waved a car down to see if I could get a ride out of here! Eventually the Voltaren kicked in and I was able to resume some riding ... eventually being picked up in a group of seven and rolling into Ahipara about 7.30 that evening ... one of the toughest days riding I have ever had!

There were times the event was a little frustrating, certainly catching the Jet boat down the Whanganui river, having to wait while the driver shepherd a couple of overweight tourists wearing inappropriate footwear up to the Bridge to Nowhere and back again ... didn't he know we were in an event ... time was kilometres not being ridden!

Catching the Ferry across Cook Strait ... who knew they would be so fully booked ... half a day in Wellington !

That's a serious bike rack powered by 500 cu in of V8 ... this was the better of the two companies to deal with!

These two days felt like they were disjointed and we could not get the flow to happen ... it played with your mind as by this stage you were into the habit of packing, eating, riding, eating, riding, eating, riding, eating and sleeping!

Equipment Failures

Even though I had taken care in choosing and testing my gear ... there are still those moments where shit happens! Riding out of Helensville on Day Four, taking it easy climbing as my back was still tight first thing in the morning and the body is adapting to the levels of fatigue ... I mess up a gear change and drop the chain between the cassette and spokes ... eventually Helen manages to get it unjambed! The problem was it bent the rear derailleur and stretched the chain, these were replaced in Mt Eden by Mt Eden Cycles!

What we hadn't realised was that when the chain had dropped onto the spokes it had damaged them, so while riding into Whanganui the first one went PING! The drive side spokes are the only ones we couldn't replace on the road, so it required a stop in at the bike shop. One spoke replaced and some additional bar tape added to my grips for some additional comfort!

The second one went PING! riding into Masterton. So for peace of mind we called into the bike shop and purchased a new back wheel and had the old one couriered home to be rebuilt at a later date!

How to Navigate on Tour

About half way through the Tour I worked this out ...

You come to an intersection, one road goes up, the other goes down ... you go up!
You come to an intersection, one road is sealed, one is gravel ... you take the gravel one!
You come to an intersection, one road is gravel, one is a 4WD track ... you take the 4WD track!
You come to an intersection, one is a 4WD track, one is a single track ... you take the single track!
You come to an intersection, there is a sign giving two routes to the same town, one is direct, the other is three times longer ... you take the long way!
You come to an intersection one road goes up and is sealed, the other goes down and is gravel ... you take the gravel road down because around the corner you know that it will go up and eventually become a 4WD track, before turning into a muddy single track ,which takes you away from where you are heading!

Simple! Just follow the Pink line on your GPS!


Food was one of the major concerns each day ... the rule of Brevets is ... if you see a place which sells food ... stop and stock up because you don't know where the next place is, whether it will be open or what it will have in stock!
A plate of Asparagas rolls and a pie for morning tea in Winton

Well ... I broke that rule riding from Franz Joseph to Haast, we rode right on past the Salmon Cafe, which Helen wanted to stop at and I said don't worry there is another cafe at Lake Paringa! WRONG ... there is no cafe at Lake Paringa ... lunch was later consumed at 5.30 in Haast at the Hard Antler pub! I am not going to live that one down very quickly!

Trail Angels

These people just really made our day!
Warm scones and Elder Flower Cordial in the middle of nowhere!
Paul cleaning and oiling our chains near Mangakino - Legend!

The whole Tour was one big highlight! It took us into rural New Zealand, along back country roads, allowing us to interact with many locals.  It is helping small communities by hungry riders needing accommodation, stopping and spending money, the economy of some of these places would have trippled overnight!

Broadwood's only store!
Family and Friends ... along the way we stopped to chat, eat or ride with Marty, Tank, Grant, Philip, Gillian, Penny and her two kids, Maria and Campbell, Jo & Crunchie, Sara & Harold, Paul, Max & Margaret & Mel, Jenny (Helen's mum), Helen's Dad, Tom & Paula, Louise, Debbie, Pete, Olwyn, Dillon, Jacqui, Bruce, John, Toni, Mary Jane, Damien, Lucca ... thanks for the support out on the track!

While others stalked us by the Maprogress site, sending messages and the occasional phone call ... thanks too! It was a little spooky at times who knew exactly where we were ... texts which would say ... Welcome to Reefton ... we hadn't even stepped off our bikes!

The tracks, the Kennetts have put together a fantastic route taking you onto some beautiful bike trials and back roads. I will let the photos speak for me ...

Would I do it again? Hell Yeah!