Tour Aotearoa -my next adventure.
Before I start on the event, a little about myself. I am Bryan Prestidge aged 57. I work as a Quantity Surveyor in Timaru. Married to Paula, with 3 grown up kids. I met Paula in 1988, whilst we were both doing Coast to Coast. I did 2 day individual 3 times, teams once and 1 day (1989). Paula did teams and 2 day solo. We had a wee break from sport while we had our kids, then got back into cycling (road and MTB) about 13 years ago.
In 2012 I had a shoulder operation to help overcome a frozen shoulder and started swimming to help free shoulder up. I built up to about 1000m and on December 20th (after 4 beers) decided that, now I could swim, I might as well tick an Iron Distance Tri off the bucket list – I walked the 8km home that night to start my training (did I mention I had calf problems that wouldn’t let me run?).
Once the insanity of the initial decision wore off, commonsense took over and I contacted Richard Greer for some help. Challenge Wanaka is now in the bucket and I’ve gone from non-swimmer, to enjoying open water swimming. Running is getting better, but is still a problem area.
SO – Tour Aotearoa – what is it…
It is a 3000km Brevet, a fully self-supported mtb ride from Cape Reinga to Bluff, using cycle trails and shingle roads wherever possible. There are 2 start groups of 100 riders each (no seeding, based on first-in, first served) on February 21st and 23rd, 2016. I’m in the 2nd start. We aren’t allowed to finish under 10 days or over 30 (100km per day). We have to be stopped for a minimum 6hr period in any 24 hrs and we aren’t allowed any outside assistance, unless it is commercially available to all other competitors. There is no entry fee (we did have to donate to a charity), no prizegiving, no finishers certificate.
SO – WHY?? – I read about and just knew it had to be done. I had thought about some bike touring in the past but there always seemed to be a race in the way. What better way to see our great country.
How prepared was I when I entered? – weeelll, I knew a couple of guys who had done some brevets, I could ride a bike and I was still pretty fit.
Once I knew I had made the cut (about mid-April) I started the planning. I talked to my friends, googled Blogs on gear lists for Brevet riders etc and started learning a new language – spot trackers, dynamo hubs, Brooks seats, Revelate gear bags, Rohloff geared hubs etc etc etc.
I was still in the post-Iron distance “hangover”, nursing a couple of slightly swollen knees and generally being lazy and getting fat, so I had plenty of time to google all about brevets.
I started by making a list of the gear I would need and started buying what I didn’t already have (i’ll put up a full gear list next time) and then Paula and I started doing some overnight trips. We are aiming for motels at night at the moment as we aren’t quite fully equipped for a winter over-nighter. So far, we’ve had a 200km weekend, from Albury to Twizel, via the Mackenzie Pass and Tekapo river and back via Alps2Ocean, Tekapo and Fairlie (both 7hrs with 5hrs riding) and a 3 day weekend doing a double pass of the Otago Rail Trail (day 2 was 9.5hrs away and 147km).
Over the next 7 weeks, I’ll be accumulating gear (a Specialised Epic Carbon mtb has just appeared!) getting some regular riding (probably mostly indoor watching TdF) and swimming in , planning some multi-day trips and just getting ready for lots of summer riding to prep the body and test the gear.
That’s it for now, more next month on gear and preparation.
If anyone is interested in trying brevets, there are some shorter ones coming up (2 and 3 days). Get in touch and i’ll give you details