Wet wet wet

Day two

Up and out the door by 7:30 for the ride south from Henderson Bay to Mangonui. Started off well, no rain and good conditions, making the turn off to state highway 10 by 10am. Just in time for a coffee, then I saw him…

Meeting the Dutch spy

Two days ago when I arrived in Kaitaia there was another cyclist onboard. I did my best not to engage, but within seconds of unpacking little beastie he was onto me. He was fizzing with excitement and telling me his grand plans and something about “za stealth camper”.

I quickly imagined he is on some secret mission for the Netherlands secret service (hence the bicycle) and perhaps I should call the authorities, but soon realized he probably meant free camping.

Then came that question, “vat is you average”. Now you could interpret that little gem in a lot of manly ways, but I immediately assumed he meant daily distance for the trip, so I boldly replied (although thinking far less ambitiously) “100 kilometers more or less”. There was a pause… a long pause until he finally responded with a “hmmmmm… ok I vill take it. For me it is vun hundred and tventy kilometres por day.”

Oh god, I haven’t even started yet and I’m already in some kind of alpha male pissing competition with a Dutch spy. So I hurriedly packed my kit, said my goodbyes, then scurried off to my motel to hide.

So today when I got to the Awanui turnoff for highway 10, I saw him. Clad in a orange, white and blue Licra onesee and carrying (yes all true) a huge Dutch flag flapping out the back of his bike. If he is indeed on a secret mission he sure didn’t read the manual on trying to be inconspicuous. He greeted me with a loud “vel ello, ello”. I smiled, waved and immediately ducked into a cafe for a coffee. As I ordered I could see him rolling on into the distance, flag whipping at the stern. I don’t think that will be the last I see or the Dutch spy.


So what about today?

Wet and I mean wet wet. After about 60 km, it started to pour a warmish, tedious kind of rain. So it was on with the wet weather gear and back to humping hills, wet on the outside and a small sauna on the inside.

I got to Mangonui and decided I had a need for a feed. I pulling into the supposedly famous chippy by the bay, unpeeled the raincoat and tucked into some shark and tatties.

after an hour I needed a campground and choose Hihi. On I went into worsening weather for another 40 minutes. I’ve spend the last few hours drying everything out and saying a prayer to the sun god for a dryer day tomorrow. What will she deliver?

Start day

Day one

img_0465Got to the Cape on a Harrison’s bus at 1:00pm to be greeted by Low cloud and light rain . Real pea souper, could see a damn thing let alone a lighthouse. So I kitted up and headed south. All down hill from here right?

The rain lasted a few hours as I basically rode out of it, into a sunny hot afternoon. Completed about 66km of hills and valleys… up down, up down and all with that damn load on.

I made it to Henderson Bay for the night and a tucked into a mighty feed. I’m going to sleep well tonight.



There’s been a big shake up in more ways than one. The ground moved in November and the damage at the top of the south was severe. It’s closed the coast and inland roads including the Molesworth muster trail.

This was my kick off route for the South Island leg, riding from Blenheim inland to Hanmer Springs. But rather than look for an alternate route I’m cutting the southern leg altogether.

This was my kick off route for the South Island leg, riding from Blenheim inland to Hanmer Springs. But rather than look for an alternate route I’m cutting the southern leg altogether.


There is an earthquake of another kind on the work front. I have a landslide of community development commitments early in the new year. So the long and short of it is I’ve cut the ride in half and will complete the north island as planned and pick up on the south at a later date (watch this space!)

It’s not ideal and pushes back on my big stretch goal of riding the country in six weeks, but three still qualifies as ‘madness’ in the eyes of most.

Pain in the arse

Trying to find comfort in a world of pain

The saddle is not doing it for me. After wiggling the saddle and my butt around I just couldn’t find any comfort in the brooks after an hour into a ride. I’ve thrown the towel in and purchased a leather saddle, a Selle-Anatomica T Series. I’ve used a Brooks leather on my old Kona so I know what I’m in for.


Instant relief. Jumped on rode over a 100km without the pain. It will stretch over time but at least I can comfortably do the distance.

The beginning of the beginning

Three months out

I made the call sometime back that I needed to beginning training in earnest three months out. That rolled around yesterday so this means time to make some changes. Here’s my to do list:

  1. First up, No smoking. I can’t do this crazy thing and smoke at the same time.
  2. Stretching. Something I’ve never really done, but now I’ve crossed that half century threshold I had better take my body seriously. So that means getting rid of a few old crinks and making sure I’m up for this. More on stretching later.
  3. Fluids. Again something I’ve never paid a lot of attention to… well not those non heady types of fluids anyway. So I’ve got to rehydrate now, daily, just not on the bike.
  4. Food. I know my calorie intake is going to be way higher on the road, but I’ve got to start thinking about diet now and getting the balance right. I have a few plan in that department. More on food later.
  5. Riding. I’ve got to get a ride in 6 days out of 7, mostly short one hour rides and one of those my tour average daily distance of 85 km.
  6. Hills. No cheating, the more I look at potential routes, the more I realise hills are endless, so best get angry with them now.
  7. Cross training. This means some form of light body weight-training and definitely swimming. I’ve got to work on a number of things: legs, core work, neck and shoulders (to reduce the load).  Basically everything! More on cross training later.

So todays the 11th of September and I’ve started.

I got a 90km mixed trail ride in yesterday including hill work, wind, rain and a good helping of mud. Today was an hour (more or less) and a good shop to make sure I’m starting to look after my fluids and food.

So far so good.

The ride – Surly ogre

All in the assembly

It started back in January on the way south to Bluff. I tracked down a black Surly ogre  frame from Darren at Bikeinc in Timaru. From there it was a process of researching options (and there are a lot of options), tracking down parts and the slow step by step assembly. This is my second touring bike build in the last three years.

Tough choices

I went big on the wheels and had a set of 29’ers hand built by the team at Wheelworks. They are light, sturdy and sleek.

I’ve used touring ‘butterfly bars’ before on the last build, but this time I wanted something that provided a little more width and control for use off-road.  I trialled two bars; the Soma Clarence bar and the NC-17 Trekking bar.

In terms of comfort they were both superb, but the Soma profile allowed for a number of hand positions and allows me to stretch out to battle the wind.

I thought hard about the brake specification. I was pretty tempted by a set of front and rear AVID BB7 Mechanical disc brakes. These appear pretty standard on off-road touring bikes, but in the end went with a set of Shimano SLX hydraulic.

I’m a Brooks saddle fan having owned a B17 Imperial in the past. This time I wanted something more waterproof so chose the Cambium C17 Carved. It’s stiff and I’m not yet convinced I will last the distance on a big tour.

Time will tell if these were good choices and the only way to really find out is to get out there and ride.

The full and final specification

Continue reading “The ride – Surly ogre”

What the hell am I doing?

The beginning

I had this idea in January. A personal goal to cycle from Cape Reinga to Bluff alone and unassisted within the year.

I thought from that day to now that if I could get everything assembled and inform enough people, then I wouldn’t have the excuse to get out of it. Basically eliminate the barriers one by one so that in the end the only thing stopping me is me.

So here I am some seven months later with the assembly pretty much completed and although I’ve still got another five months, I need to begin physically preparing myself for this. Getting saddle ready, more physically fit, quitting the cigarettes and planning the route.

So this blog is a first. A way to record the build up to the Cape on the 9th of December and beyond.