After training for the last six months a band of intrepid local bikers are on the final legs of a marathon 3000 kilometre journey spanning the length of New Zealand.
Putting pedal to the metal on staggered days from February 17, 19 and 20, nine riders from Mangawhai Cycling Group (MCG) joined over 900 other bicycle adventurers on ‘Tour Aotearoa’ (TA).
The nationwide trek sees riders traversing the country over lesser-known back country trails and tracks from Cape Reinga to Bluff, including a ferry ride from Pouto Point to South Head and across Cook Strait. The tour is also a fundraiser with rider entry fees donated towards a charity of their choice.
Rider Lyndal Bowen says the epic journey ‘certainly has its ups and downs and that’s not just the hills’.
“It can definitely be an ‘outside your comfort zone’ experience… but pretty damn good on the whole!”
An impressive part of the tour Bowen says is the support participants receive from locals as they pass through their homelands and towns, with residents saying they are ‘pleased to be able to help’ by leaving chilly bins at the end of their driveways containing free items such as fruit, water and lollies for the passing riders.
“We call them ‘Trail Angels’, either locals or people who did the ride last time in 2018, they turn up at the best places just when you feel a little desperate,” she says. “Also the support from family and friends, who seem to have a lot of fun following our adventure through the tracking devices we have to carry, as well as random people who stop us in the street to ask what we are doing, is amazing… it’s great to chat to so many people.”
Courtesy shown by touring coach drivers and campervan drivers towards riders on the road deserves full respect she says: “It seems word is out why there’s so many of us.”
For one rider however the tour has been a bittersweet experience. Auckland MCG member Gary Roper is cycling the trail as a tribute to his 40-year-old son who passed away in 2016 after a battle with cancer.
“Daniel actually built the bike but sadly died before he could do the ride so I’m doing it for him in his memory,” he says. “Training for the tour has been a way for me to cope with his death, it’s been a great thing to ride and doing the trail will be like a legacy for Daniel’s son, my 4-year-old grandson Louis.”
With team shirts sponsored by Mangawhai Village cafe Frog ‘n Kiwi and Coastal Homes, Mangawhai Cycling Group’s intrepid riding team are taking on the length of the country for good causes. From left Mark Rowbotham, Simon Bennett, Geoff Matthews, Simon
Hardley, Lyndal Bowen, Simon Ruddenklau and Gary Roper. Absent: Hans de Man, Murray Dix and Brian King]. PHOTO/JULIA WADE
“It’s not so much a race against others but an adventure… and a good excuse to get out and see the country.”
Geoff Matthews, Hakaru