We arrived in Christchurch on the Wednesday afternoon to be picked up by a fellow GSB rider and super-awesome amazingly rad Kiwi Marcus Peters who had to wait for us whilst we cleaned our bikes down in the customs rooms. Spent a lovely few days talking bikes, gear, food, riding bikes, printing cue sheets and hanging out with Marcus and his amazing family. Friday rolled around and we were off to Geraldine to meet Kevin and his lovely family, had an amazing dinner and tried to get some zzzz’s!! Kiwis are the nicest people ever!!! We ran into some other aussies at the start line, last minute gear check and next thing we were off.
the boys testing out their sleeping gear!
Nothing like testing it out in your loungeroom
the night before the ride starts…. love it!
Al and Marcus carbo loading on breakfast burritos.
I think Marcus is questioning his decision to pick up two strange Aussies from the airport
Day One: Beautiful crystal clear turquoise lakes, snow capped mountains, amazing scenery! The goal was to get to Omarama, roughly 200k down the road with what felt like lots and lots of climbing. (thought it was a massive amount of climbing at the time, but compared to the next few days the first day wasn’t so bad!!) We rolled into a ski lodge about 2 hours before reaching Omarama and with a 1.5 hour wait on food, many riders opted to book a cabin for the night. Al and I decided to scoff a couple of bags of potato chips and push on, a lovely still night ride on single track over another climb and then rolled into Omarama with a guy Nathan who had previously done Tour Divide so we bombarded him with questions! Stopped at about midnight with 12 or so hours riding under our belts, bivvied on a nature strip and got hardly any sleep! HIGHLIGHT: Amazing scenery!!! LOWLIGHT: Al thought I was at the front so charged ahead at a crazy pace but I was at the back!!
Day Two: Woke up feeling very lousy and dehydrated, struggled to get down the muesli at the cafe at 7am for breakky, stocked up and rode until 11.30 that night. Rode to St.Bathans and there was a crazy windstorm going on, we had a mountain to get over and the clouds above it were black. Decided to go over, rode with Dave and Shelley and nearly got blown off the mountain with 90km/h windgusts making it a hard day! We finally got over the saddle and rode the night with a couple of Kiwis – Paul, Andy and Jason, who we ended up riding with alot, top blokes!!! Missed the cafe so fanged it to Hawea to try to restock but missed that aswell. Slept amazingly in Hawea! Keen to make it to Wanaka but we were all too shattered from the winds and climbs!! 180kish day, 12ish hours riding. HIGHLIGHT: Epic scenery LOWLIGHT: not much slept so felt pretty sick and tired.
Day Three: Short ride to the petrol station for breakky (a meatpie and ice-cream!!) then continued on some lovely bike paths into Wanaka. Met a heap of other riders at the supermarket refuelling and getting ready for the big climb over a massive mountain pass- Grand Ridge Range. Some pretty speccy scenery but we pushed our bikes up a mountain for about 5 hours. It was epically hard, it smashed me to pieces mentally. I rolled into Arrowtown a shattered shell of a person. I sat down with Al, Jason and Andy and ate a delicious Thai meal. Most people had gone to Queenstown, only a 2 hour ride. After dinner I told Al I was done, it wasnt fun anymore, I wanted to go drive around NZ and be a tourist, I found every excuse not to keep riding and tried to justify it.
We decided to stay in Arrowtown that night in a motel and decide in the morning. Showered and fed, when I woke up the next morning I was ready to rumble!! No way am I quitting!! Hooked into some awesome trails to Queenstown, had a delicious cafe breakfast then ran around like headless chooks trying to get food for the next 180k section, fix Al’s flat tyre, get our bank cards to work and buy ferry tickets. So many riders came to the rescue, lending us money (thanks Greg and Mary what LEGENDS!!), buying our tickets, helping us out. The highlight of the whole trip was the people we met and the amazing camaraderie along the way. Got sorted and off the ferry for more climbing!!
A brutal headwind, the landscape changed dramatically, I felt like I was in a big dry basin, finally caught up to Andy and Jason and we fanged it into the next town- Mossburn, hoping to get to the store before it closed. Thankfully we did but the range of food was not amazing. Burger and chips it is. Riding to the next town 35km on road, the burger and chips made a reappearance by the side of the road. Not ideal. Met a few riders who were at Garsten for the night, and decided to head up the next climb to a hut. Finally got to the hut at 11.30, after leaving Arrowtown at 5.30 that morning, tried not to wake the other 15 riders sleeping in there and slept on the floor. HIGHLIGHT: The pie and ice cream for breakfast! LOWLIGHT: How I felt 10 minutes after eating the pie and ice cream for breakfast. 2nd lowlight- How I felt 10 minutes after eating the burger and chips for dinner. 3rd Lowlight- not getting much sleep in the hut .
Day Four: Rode the rest of the misty climb before the sun came up, had 50 water crossings today! In the wee hours of the morning, I rode past a stockmen with 20 working dogs crossing a river in the mountains, was an epic sight, I thought I was hallucinating to start with!! A big day of relentless climbing, both mountain passes and big hills, we rolled into Alexander pretty early at about 4.30 and with only 9 hours of riding, but the climbs and the massive day prior meant we rolled straight into a motel room and had an early night. HIGHLIGHT: Stockmen LOWLIGHT:Being told the last 30k were “undulating” They were big-ass hills that crushed my spirit.
Day Five: Up over Knobbys Pass, starting to feel like home with the rocky ground, looked over and not far from me is a snow capped mountain, I zoom out on my garmin praying the line doesnt go that way!! Freezing cold up but had a ball! Got to Roxburgh and was told once we got here, we were “Home and hosed” Oh how I wish that had of been true. Great meal, met up with Andy and Jase again and had a great chat with the owner who was following the ride on trackleaders. So from here I thought all the hard work was down and it would be easy. Instead, we had 65km of climbing, with rain, freezing temperatures and massive winds. I stuffed up epically here. I rode by myself for about 11 hours, in which time I drank 3L of water and did not fill up my Camelbak bladder in the stream I was suppose to, and ate a salad roll and a small packet of grainwaves. I was massively dehydrated, no energy and paranoid I was going to collapse and die. Even though I had a good tailwind, it felt like an eternity to ride the last 10k into Ranfurly.
I was expecting to see everyone in a pub eating a meal in Ranfurly, thats what I had been told, that’s what got me to the town, urged on by a nice meal and possibly a hotel room. Instead I found myself in a not so friendly town to see Al huddled up shivering outside a closed mini-mart. Apparently the pub is 35k down the road. I was gone, I slumped down on the pavement, my bike left on the road, Al urged me to eat and drink, 3 mars bars and .5L of coke later I was on my bike pedaling slowly to the pub down the road. A sharp pain in my chest preventing my from breathing too deeply, I felt so bad. Onto some singletrack, the caffeine and sugar kicked in and I was back!! Rolled into Naseby and saw the bikes outside the pub, we had a killer tailwind that was going to swing around to a vicious headwind on our final day.
We decided to make the most of it and pushed on up and over another mountain pass- Dansey’s Pass. Froze on the decent and at 1am the caffeine and sugar was wearing off dramatically!! Jumped in the bivvy and was shaking severely so zipped up my bivvy to try to warm up. I had only taken 1 jersey and 1 knicks, no change of clothes at all. Once I zipped up my bivvy I couldn’t breathe, something had died in there. I soon realised it was me! 5 days in the one kit had taken it’s toll. I officially reeked. I was the worst thing I had ever smelt!! Even I didn’t think I could be so gross!! Opened the fly for some ventilation and got some sleep, at 530 some riders rolled past and said good morning! 17 hours of riding, 260ish km’s. HIGHLIGHT: Naseby singletrack fulled by coke and chocolate LOWLIGHT:Solo ride for 11hours with not enough food and water, survival mode, so scared. My smell.
(Beautiful sunrise, knowing today would be the last day in the saddle.)
Al asleep in his bivvy
Day Six: Tried to force a piece of “One-Square Meal” down without much luck, rode up some more hills and got a speccy sunset and into Kurow where we ran into Paul and had a lovely long breakfast knowing we only had 7 or so hours of riding left on this whole crazy adventure!! Another mountain pass but nowhere near as big as previous ones, Paul and I chatted for ages and cruised on the bitumen, scenery turned into East Gippsland style past some dairies and the like. More climbs, then finally at the last climb a perfect clear view of Mount Cook. SPECTACULAR!! Once again, thought I was “home and hosed” with a 45k decent. So wrong.
That tailwind had indeed whipped around to become a brutal headwind, the speedo dropped to 5 km/h. So frustrated, so angry, just wanted to get off the bike!! Thankfully it didnt last the whole 45km as we turned onto the highway and rolled down into Lake Tekapo, 6 days and 5 hours since we left, 1160km later, 79 hours of riding. An epic adventure, one I will never forget. HIGHLIGHT: The people we met along the way. Getting to the end and getting to hang out in a random persons funky clothes!!
Thanks Marcus and his wonderful family, Thanks Kevin and family, Thanks Dave the organisor, Thanks Paul, Jason and Andy for keeping me company throughout the ride, giving us clothes to wear, a place to sleep and a lift back to Christchurch,Thanks Dave and Shelley for the laughs and help, Thanks Greg and Mary for help, and Thanks Liv/Giant!!! Thanks GSB, see you in 2016!