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2022 Tour Aotearoa

“Unfinished business” is what I would tell people who asked me if I had done the Tour Aotearoa (TofA), a 3,013 km brevet which runs the length of New Zealand from Cape Reinga in the far north, to Bluff in the deep south. In 2016 I was going to ride the inaugural TofA with my riding buddy Rickie Cotter but the legacy of a prostate infection meant it was not a good idea. I came back in 2018 and was doing really well when just after km 750 I woke up in a ditch in the Pureora Forest having somehow crashed my bike. It was a bad crash and I ended up with a helicopter ride to Waikato Hospital, 4 h of facial reconstruction surgery, and a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which has led to post-concussion syndrome. Could have been worse… I could have been killed or drooling in a wheel chair!

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With my brain injury having settled in to something that I can generally manage, it was time to get this done. So I trained hard to get my fitness up and was well prepared physically and mentally for this race. Promising my wife Lis that I would not overdo it, I looked forward to an adventure!

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2022 Tour Aotearoa Gear List

It’s time for another attempt at the Tour Aotearoa. On a recent Facebook discussion I posted that my kit weighed in at 12.8 kg for the bike with tools etc. and that I had 5.2 kg of clothes and camping kit. I was asked to provide my gear list so here it is!

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My Perfect Bikepacking Handlebar Bag

I’ve never found quite the right bag for my handlebars. I have tried several, most recently the Apidura Racing Handlebar Bag, but it was just too small. None had the key features that I wanted when bikepacking.

So I decided time to get  Michael from Stealth Bags in Wellington to work with me and get what I needed.  He’s done me two excellent frame bags and is my ‘go to’ guy for creative solutions.  So I went to Michael with my wish list and below is what he came up with …


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Everesting 10k Movie

This is a short film made by Rob Dawson of my Everesting 10k effort, with some background as well. Thanks for documenting this Rob!

Everesting and Everesting 10k

With my racing season in Europe cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic, I needed a new goal. So why not ‘Everesting’? It is advertised as:

“Fiendishly simple, yet brutally hard. Everesting is the most difficult climbing challenge in the world”

There are about 4,500 people who have Everested, and a much smaller number who have done the Everesting 10k (less than seven my age (60+) or older) where you continue on to do 10,000 m of climbing. The rules are simple.

  • We can pick any hill, anywhere in the world and complete repeats of it in a single activity until we climb 8,848m – the equivalent height of Mt Everest.
  • Has to be a single activity which means we can rest, stop for nutrition, but no sleep.
  • Has to be a single climb—no loops, multiple ascents on the same mountain, etc.
  • You have to record continuously on an approved device, and upload to Strava.

After 118 ups and downs of Tata Beach Hill’s 85 m climb, I managed an Everesting 10k.  This is what the ride looked like:


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Kopito Aotearoa

The Kopiko Aotearoa was a new bikepacking adventure across the North Island. The route was between the eastern and westernmost points: East Cape Lighthouse and Cape Egmont Lighthouse. Screenshot_20200228-102534Riders could go in either direction, with two waves of up to 100 riders each leaving at sunrise on February 22 and 23rd.  It was an ‘invitation only’ event so not widely publicised and I was able to get entries for myself and my riding buddy Rickie Cotter who I met during the 2014 Transcontinental Race from London to Istanbul and has become part of the extended ‘family’.

I was looking forward to the ride as my post-concussion syndrome had got a lot worse in 2019 so I had skipped any races. With a promise to Lis that we would take it easy, I was looking forward to the adventure. I was not to be disappointed.

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North Cape – Tarifa Race

The North Cape – Tarifa (NCT) race ran from the northernmost point in Europe in Norway, to the southernmost point in Spain. Spanning 13 countries, it is the longest bikepacking race one can do at 7,390 km with over 65,000 m of climbing.  It took me 29:10:30 minutes for 10th place, an average of just over 250 km/day.  It was an incredible adventure and I was pleased to participate in the inauguration of what deserves to become one of the top bikepacking races.


Snow graffiti on my way to the top of Pico du Veleta in Spain 

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Preparing for North Cape-Tarifa Race

imageIt seemed like a good idea at the time …

Andy Buchs—who I met at last year’s Indian Pacific Wheel Race across Australia had the idea for a race from the northernmost part of Europe in Norway, to the southernmost in Spain: the North Cape-Tarifa (NCT) race. Sounded like quite the adventure so I signed up and we start the inaugural race at midnight on 20 June. I’ve just been sent the final route and it’s a bit more than I expected: 7,389 km with 85,000 metres of climbing. Ouch. I’m prepared as best as I can be all things considered, but will be interesting to see how things go!

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Ready for the Tour Aotearoa

A week tomorrow I’m starting on the 3000 km self-supported ‘Tour Aotearoa’ which goes the length of NZ from Cape Reinga to Bluff. In spite of my crazy travel schedule I’ve managed to keep to a good training program and according to Xertonline I’m right where I need to be fitness wise which is great.  This is the best time—starting to taper. With a few rides this week, then driving north on Friday.


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Epic Ride Weather: The One App All Endurance Cyclists Need

When doing long distance endurance races the one question I wonder when tired is whether or not it is worth pushing on. Some years ago in the Tour Divide I passed a group of racers who were setting up camp as the sun was setting just east of Lima Reservoir. It was a perfect evening so I decided to ride a few more hours towards the Idaho border.  The next morning the weather changed and they had miserable headwinds and rain compared to my idyllic ride. This would have been avoided had ‘Epic Ride Weather’ been around at the time. I used it to plan my rests around wind when racing across Australia earlier in 2017, and will be using again in the Tour Aotearoa and the North Cape-Tarifa in 2018.

What makes it so useful? It loads your route where you are riding, you input your expected speed, and it then gives you the weather and wind forecasts over your ride.  In other words, you know exactly what to expect!

Here is how it works.


You first link the app to where you want get your routes from. Here I have connected it to Strava and Ride with GPS.

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It will then list the available routes. The above are the routes I have in Ride with GPS.


Here are my Strava rides. I’m going to do a ride up the Cobb Valley.


You indicate when you plan on starting (now in this example), and what you expect your average speed to be. It uses the average from Strada. The red slider bar allows you to shorten the route.


The app then gives you the expected temperature over your ride and the precipitation. It was very correct here—it rained after 11:00.


This is the expected wind map, showing both the intensity and direction. I can expect a 6 km/h tail wind on the way out; and up to 12 km/h on the way home.

You have to pay a modest amount for weather predictions—$8.99 for 20,000 ‘units’, but it is well worth the investment. Give it a try. Late one day in a ride you will be grateful when it tells you to keep pedalling because of what tomorrow will bring!