Since 2012, the Tour of New Zealand has cemented its place as one of the best multi-day cycle events in the world. It’s an 8-day pedalling fiesta that celebrates everything good about cycling, scenery, competition and community. It also doubles as a unique fund raising platform for many worthwhile charities. Jenny Lott, of Methven Sports Massage joins the W.H.A.T (Well hung and tender) team from Methven, riding hard for St John’s Methven.

                                                        BUMS ON BIKES

                                                                                      words & images: Jenny Lott

Since the first Tour, riders have raised more than $675,000 and knowing that they’re supporting a good cause is a huge source of motivation when the going gets hard for our team of riders, Kim Turney, Rob Turney, Andrew Wright, Barrie Begg, Gregor Robertson and Dave Hood. We’re riding the length of the North Island this time around, and 100kms per day for seven days will have the boys putty in my hands! Join us on the journey of tears (not mine) tantrums (not me) and tiara’s (defo not mine!)

Riders start from opposite ends of either the North or South Island and ride simultaneously, as they converge on the centre of the country. On the eighth day, everyone meets in Wellington for a morning of criterium racing in the grounds of Parliament.

Day One, with beer and wine on the way, we stop for lunch at a deli in Warkworth, before heading to Kaitaia. Surprise!  A quick tourist stop at Kawakawa and a busload of tourists were taking pictures just as I step out of the famous toilets!
Gregor is showing the whites of his eyes at the narrow, winding, upee-downee roads and Wrighty just wants a beer. Hills, hills and more hills!  Reality is setting in as the humidity and hills take their toll. But they sure bust their arses!

At a water drop three-quarters of the way in, Barrie is like a dynamo, Rob, Gregor and Wrighty all keeping pace…. but Hoody is WAY at the back, knees out, thinking it’s a holiday in the Hokianga!  Kim was second in the female category, chewing up the hills like a cookie monster! We are expecting her to win the car!

Day Two. It’s hot, it’s hilly and it’s relentless. Kim, demon that she is, is way in front and still number two girl rider. The boys spread out a bit and the strategising begins!… intrigue and skullduggery, even within their own teammates. Kim even stops logging trucks singlehandedly on one-lane bridges! A lollipop girl in lycra!

Morning again, and threatening rain doesn’t dampen spirits as the stallions mount their trusty bikes for another grueling day. Jeff and I drive 35kms to wait in the most beautiful countryside. We could be in the Cotswold’s of England with its rolling, green countryside and large stately trees – minus the thatched houses, stately homes and limestone churches. The boys, if they get their heads up, will see magic country today.

A non-cycling day because of rain, floods and massive slips but they don cycling gear and attempt to swim to the other side of a road closure. The Chateau, in the Tongariro National Park is a sight for sore eyes after a day of traveling in pounding rain and wind.

 

Into the back blocks of the beautiful Manawatu Gorge! Fortunately for the guys there is little traffic on the winding country lanes and narrow one lane bridges. They are in the first big bunch so it’s hard to get water to them. We have to wait for an incline that slows them up a bit and separates the weaker riders.

Finally, we make it to Wellington.  Kim Turney has cleaned up, and finished her tour in spectacular style by winning the individual women’s criterium around Parliament, and the individual women’s tour of the North Island. Big ups to Kimmy for her spectacular efforts in adverse conditions (leaving her cycling shoes at home, her Garmin at home, her mobile at a cafe in Warkworth and her driver’s license at buggered-if-we-know-where!). Great race preparation, Kim!!

The W.H.A.T. boys came 3rd in their category, and 6th overall, so very tired but happy to have added to the St Johns fundraising. We’ll wait a bit before asking if they will do it again!

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.