Long time, no blog! Well, the hiatus is over folks and I'm back at the keyboard with word of my upcoming adventure, a little jaunt to the other side of the world to ride the Tour Aotearoa (TA). It's a 3,000 km (1,864 miles) trail that starts in Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of the North Island in New Zealand and follows some of the best cycle trails, tracks and paths all the way to Bluff in the southern part of the South Island.

The Tour Aotearoa New Zealand

If you're cranking out 100 km/60 mile days the route is do-able in 30 days but I'm aiming for a much more relaxed schedule. I've got a whopping 12 weeks in New Zealand and the plan is to ride the TA at a relaxed pace but also to branch off it and take in some of the other iconic rides along the way. I also want the freedom to take rest days or to stop and take time to explore cool places when I come across them - the ultimate bikepacking/touring indulgence. I'll be riding solo but expect to encounter a lot of other cyclists on the trails, partly because it's summertime and also because the TA brevet event will be taking place on the route whilst I'm there. This isn't a race but a self-supported group event whereby riders aim to ride the Tour Aotearoa within 10 - 30 days via 30 checkpoints. It starts mid February so there'll be plenty of other pedallers en route to chat with :-)

The other big news is that I'll be riding this on my new bike, Bamboo Betty. She has a handmade bamboo frame, made by none other than myself in a two day workshop provided by The Bamboo Bicycle Club in Munich and has been my first ground-up bike build. I have chosen, sourced and fit all of her components and it's been a huge learning curve. Having replaced a lot of the components on 'The Beast', my Trek 29er MTB over the years I thought it would be a breeze but it turns out that it was a lot more work than I anticipated. I can say though that I know her inside out and upside down now and hopefully that means that I can fix any issues that may occur along the way - the proof will be in the pudding on that one! It's been a long process to get her up and running and I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous about embarking upon such a huge journey with only a short amount of riding time together but I'm taking a chance on her (I'm an ABBA fan after all) and I'm confident that we'll make it together one way or another!

Here's her setup:

  • Mason X Hunt 650b Adventure Dynamo Disc Wheelset complete with a SON28 dynamo and Sinewave Cycle Revolution USB charger
  • Hope headset and bottom bracket
  • SRAM GX 1 x 11 speed groupset
  • Surly Bridge Club steel fork
  • Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes and 160mm rotors
Bamboo Betty

So that's about it, I'm currently sat in a coffee shop in Heathrow Terminal 4 awaiting my flight and am so excited (and a tad nervous) to get started. Time to start reading some of the trail notes and a bit about New Zealand - nothing quite like a bit of last minute planning, although I've got plenty of time on the 24 hour journey! I'll be posting updates along the way so tune in to hear how it goes.