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The full length of Aotearoa in 10 days by bike - well that was the plan!

The full length of Aotearoa in 10 days by bike - well that was the plan!

January 30, 2023

In late February of 2022 I set off on an adventure I had been wanting to do from the time I first heard about it. Tour Aotearoa. A 3000km the length of New Zealand cycle taking on some of the best trails, tracks and roads. My goal was to make it to Bluff in 10 days. I did not make it but had a great time trying. I made it as far as Springs Junction - the 2000km mark in 7 days 4 hours, just behind the average speed required to make it in 10 days. This is where I made the decision to stop as my health was failing. If you are interested in the full story and journey I sat down with Craig Giltinan and talked about it on his podcast - Individual Wellness Evolution: 

Hugh Bootten talks about his Tour Aotearoa (its worth a listen)

If you are more interested in the bike and gear-tech below is a breakdown of the bike and equipment that I used.  The bike is based around a Jefferson bike frame. Jeff Anderson custom made the bike for me to take bike-packing and bike-pack racing. It is a mix of Columbus and Reynolds steel with a Ritchey adventure fork. Jeff is a good friend of mine and there is something nice about having a strong connection with your bike and the hands that made it. I sat down with Jeff and over a few beers talked about what I wanted to achieve on the bike and some of the characteristics I wanted it to have. Jeff then crafted the frame to fit me and my needs. It was at this point that he invited Harm from Dancing Moose Adventure Supplies into the project to make a frame bag to work perfectly with the frame. All of the fixings for the bag are internal, removing the need for straps around the frame.

 I used a Salsa Woodchipper drop bar with a set of aero-bars and Shimano Ultegra drivetrain. This is not what most people do as most participants use hardtail 29er MTBs. I did this on a piece of advice I was given that has stuck with me - build a bike to improve your weaknesses not improve your strengths. I am a confident mountain biker and love a good hill climb but cross winds and long flat roads are not my thing. This is why the bike looks more like a TT bike than an MTB.

The wheels used are Nextie rims on a Swiss DT350 rear hub and a Son dynamo front hub running a USB charger to keep my lights and Garmin running without the need to stop and charge them. For navigation I used a Garmin 1030 with my cellphone and paper clue sheets as back-ups. This was adequate and I never ended up using the back-ups. Something that I had not considered and became very useful was the climb-pro function on the Garmin. This is where at the base of a hill it gives you information like the length of climb, gradient, estimated time to top and distance to the next climb. This really helped with timing of food efforts and my mood being able to mentally prepare for the climbs.

I had a small amount of spare parts and maintenance equipment with me including a small rag and Biomaxa chain lube.  I would clean and lube my drive train each night and perform a bolt check and only once did I stop and re-lube during the day. This was day 2 from Parakai - Matamata - 340km. The only other maintenance I had to do was changing tire pressures to suit the terrain I was on.

I also had with me a good multi-tool, electrical tape, cable ties, chain quick-link, a set of brake pads, a gear cable, 2 tubes, 2 spokes and nipples, a cleat bolt as well as a few M4, M5 and M6 bolts and a spare chain ring bolt. 

To help maintain me as well as the bike I had a small amount of kit. I had a toothbrush and paste, a small pack of baby wipes and hand sanitiser. I also had Biomaxa Pro-Ride chamois cream and got into the habit of rinsing out my bike shorts and re-applying a few times a day. As the ride went on and I got more tired I was not doing this as regularly and ended up paying the price. Skinnies sunscreen is also another great New Zealand product. 

I had a lot of trial and error with camping equipment. Knowing I was going to sleep out most nights I needed something quick to set up and pack down and be reliable. I ended up using a bivi-bag, sleeping mat and sleeping bag. To speed the set up and pack down I left it all together and rolled it all up. All of the clothing and camping kit I was carrying was under 2kg and in 2 drybags in the fork of my bike. If I was to do the trip again the only thing I would change in the way of clothing would be to change bike shorts more often.

The ride was an amazing adventure, I would love to have another go at it. A big thank you to everyone that supported me in training and the event - especially Church Corner Cycles, RaceBikesNZ,  Biomaxa and my wife, family and friends. Without the support of all of you I would not have made it to the start line.

Stay tuned for the next adventure.


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