End of the road

It was generally agreed that the conditions on the run into Bluff were fitting for the finish of The Great Ride For Heart. Gale force winds, frigid temperatures, and horizontal showers. Maybe because it was a final test of resolve, or simply because we had to keep such a tight bunch to make the final 30km safely.

The final day would have been pretty significant in any conditions, 225km with 1100m of climbing (even though it was described as all downhill) after 12 days on the road.

Apparently somebody had organised the Queenstown Pedallers to tag along and provide a bit of a tow. Whilst the gesture was a nice one, I hadn’t ridden all that way to get assisted in the final drag, which meant that I ended up on the front of the bunch for a lot of the day.

Hitting the signpost in Bluff I did get some satisfaction for having ridden the country fixed, but had greater satisfaction in the group arriving safely and together. The route rather than the two end points were the personal achievement, the mountain passes in particular were quite something. Though surprisingly the Northland stages both in numbers (gradients and metres climbed), and physical toll were the hardest of the lot.

Not sure of the final figures for the 13 riding days but know we climbed over 16,000m, I changed gear 0 times, got 0 punctures, 0 mechanicals, and got 1 sore butt. 42×16 is the platinum gear after all.

Thanks again for all your support, I couldn’t have done it without you (my $10,000+ crew).

[Numbers update:  ride was 2210km long – that’s 395,000 pedal revolutions. Thanks to you all I raised $12,717. That works out at about $0.03 a revolution, pretty good value I’d say. Ride also incorporated just under 17,000m of climbing, 10,500 of which occured in the North Island. No wonder the South Island seemed so cruisey.]


Day 13 – the Lindis and the Crown

The lads who made the break for the 280km epic stage yesterday did indeed summit the Crown and finish today’s 198km day.

I did manage to ride the Lindis and Crown Range fixed in the platinum 42×16 ratio ™. Time for the ride 8hrs flat, time to descend from the Crown Range 15min, actually enjoyed the descent fixed.

Have to fess up to a performance enhancer today, we stopped at the Cardrona Tavern for a pint of Summit lager before the final push of the climb.

Weather ended up gorgeous for the large part though we had horrific winds early on, had to pedal down the hill just to get up to 17kph. Was looking pretty grim for a while. Stokin’ headwinds stopped early breaks on both climbs, but nothing like the conditions encountered earlier.

Possibly the most scenic day yet, though the Lewis Pass runs close. Last day tomorrow, I’m a bit teary thinking about it. Hope to be in OK shape for the family vacation too, Victoria certainly looks like she needs a rest after playing Solo ™ mum for a couple of weeks. Not sure that I’ll have anything in reserve for valentines day though…

Day 11 – Land of the Long White Line

I could mention the 6 corners in the 160km between Chch and Timaru. Or the fact that I incurred my first injury of the tour: While making a toilet stop I put a crick in my neck whilst glancing over my shoulder looking for the 2nd bunch.

Or the transfer bus overheating and blowing water through the dashboard. Or even the joy of seeing my wife and kids in Timaru for the first time in ages.

But no, none of these come close to the epic display of two of the core riders, Andrew H, and Stephen L, who elected to ride through, bypassing Timaru for Twizel. Instead of the jolly (boring) 160km ride, they undertook a 280km monster over Burkes Pass.

Which brings us neatly to tomorrow’s ride – a mere 195km over the Lindis Pass and the Crown Range. Looks like we could have some weather fun too. A fast moving low has weather warnings for heavy rain over the region. We’ll we see what tomorrow brings then – I can’t wait, it’s better than Xmas.

Day 11 – Into Chch

Pretty uneventful day I’m afraid, though North Canterbury was rather scenic through the cloud. Weather was a little poor, cool (12deg at our morning drink stop) and damp at times. Had quite a few day riders and the bunch seemed rather unruly – still somewhat hoarse from yelling at them all. ‘Yelling’ might be putting it a little strong, how about “loudly inviting them to ride in tight formation”?

Only three stages to go (done about 280,000 pedal revolutions), tomorrow is an unexciting drag across the Canterbury Plains to Timaru. Then the two BIG days of the tour. Yesterday we exceeded 14,000m of climbing over 10 days, and haven’t changed gear once 🙂

Day 10 – The Lewis Pass

Gillet on, arm warmers off, gillet on, arm warmers on. Hot, cool, hot, bloody cold. And wet. Weather decidedly changeable today. Currently in the sub antartic valley known as Hanmer Springs.

Lewis Pass was magificent, climbing through Beech forest glades and stunning exposed peaks (those that could be seen poking out from the clouds). Great gradient for rhythm climbing. Descent wasn’t too bad fixed, took it a little easy – and a flag ripping headwind slowed all the freebie riders down to a manageable pace.

Support crew and organisation of this ride is superb. Though having a van with full defibrillator, splints, and IV lines ready to go, along with a crack team is a little disconcerting. Came through the blood test A OK, heart not leaking, and no substances found of concern.

18t freewheel still clean, only the Lindis Pass and Crown Range stand between me and Bluff and a 42×16 clean sweep. I’m off to the pub to celebrate.

Day 9 – Nelson to Murchison

Another beautiful day on the bike, Wellington traffic and SH1 is a distant memory. Morning provided us with a couple of cracker climbs, steep and reasonably long. Glad we had the rest day ’cause there was plenty of opportunity for hurt.

Following those saddles had a nice climb up to Nelson Lakes National Park with lunch at Lake Rotoiti. Don’t worry about the sandflies, it’s the swarms of bumblebees that you should heed.

At some point the ride down the Buller Gorge turned into a race. Belted out the last 20k as if we were in the money (I blame whoever mentioned cold beer). Might have been a little foolhardy, tomorrow we have the Lewis Pass. Group is a fantastic bunch of guys and gals, supportive yet spirited. Couldn’t ask for better riding company.

Have a question you might care to offer some opinions on – why does the sweaty sunscreen only ever drip into my right eye?

Ps. 42×16 is still running good. Think I should be ok to tackle the Crown Range on it in a couple of days

Day 8 – Wellingron Transfer (Intermission)

Rest day is a bit of a drag. Rather be riding. Looking rather forward to the next two days into the hills, some nice looking climbs and scenery to boot.

Can report back that the word ‘fixie’ has been used in a speech in Parliment. We had a parlimentary breakfast this morning joint hosted by Tony Ryall and Jenny (to her riding chums, aka Rt Hon Dame J. Shipley). Food was awful though.

Cell phone coverage is a bit patchy ahead so not sure when my next installment will be…

Day 7 – Wellington Victorius

I’m going to have say it – the run in to Wellington was horrendous. The day started out innocently enough, but the nice country roads soon gave way to the traffic and debris of SH1. Punctures, noise, and impatient motorists dominated there on in.

We did get a police escort and the NZ army crack cycle squad (and Tony Ryall) in from Plimmerton which was nifty. Finished up behind the Beehive where my bike will be spending the night. Reception was pretty decent as well.

Hooked up today with one of my supporters The Potato Guy who provided a slap up lunch. Since that and the 2 foot subway yesterday have maintained a 77kg frame today, up 1.5kg from day 0. Huzzah!!

Have done 201,000 pedal revolutions from the 380,000 total (btw have topped out at about 185rpm). All downhill from here I suppose.

Day 6 – The Desert Rd (can he fix it?)

Yes he can. Turangi to Marton on a fixie, no problem. Rode the Turangi to Waiouru section at a solid 25kph average. Downhill wasn’t as bad as I’d feared, so a ripper day all in all – certainly easier than Northland.

Rather proud of the lunch break – managed a two foot subway along with some home baking, etc, etc. Wondering how the weigh-in will go tomorrow. I was back to my starting weight this morning.

All good with the bike and rider, though my butt iron-like as it is is getting a little sore. Won’t mention the communual lunch time saddle creme tub though. A little sad being away from my family too, if someone can check in on them that would be great.