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From Cape to Bluff in 18 days

By Julia Wade

5 MF-susansride-588From the northern tip of Spirits Bay to the deep southern Bluff, avid cyclists, including one Mangawhai rider, ventured out on a recent marathon challenge to traverse the 3000km length of New Zealand, encountering cyclone winds on the way.

Advertised as one of the world’s greatest bike packing adventures, Tour Aotearoa 2018 also doubles as a fundraiser, with the entrance fee passed on to charities nominated by participants.

This year the event attracted 459 riders to its trails, including local woman Susan Woolnough. Susan’s mother, Stella Woolnough, a long-time resident and 2017 Kaipara Citizens Award recipient, says her daughter 
has just recently arrived home from the mammoth ride.

“She left Cape Reinga on February 12 with 75 others, and was the first woman out of her group to reach Bluff on March 1; only took her 18 days,” she says. “I’m very proud of her.” After finding the advertisement for the tour two years ago, Stella says Susan has been training hard, cycling some days up to 100km through the forest and hills of Pakiri.

She chose the Rescue Helicopter for her charity due to being a past receiver of the service. “Susan had a fall while tramping around Taranaki and had to be air-lifted out so she wanted to dedicate her entrance money to them.” The route of the tour includes many of New Zealand’s cycle touring routes, taking riders along quiet rural roads and through the country’s heartland. Participants have to be self-supported, arranging their own accommodation and meals along the way, and can ride at their own time and speed.

Travelling in all weathers, riders had an extra extreme encounter at the top of the South Is land, battling the tail end of Hurricane Gita as the storm passed over, one of the most difficult parts of the ride for Susan, Stella says. “Sue is deservedly well pleased with her achievement, however she says she is also happy now to be back in her own piece of Mangawhai paradise.”

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