Jeff's Bike and random bike related stuff from NZ

Monday, September 13, 2021


UrbanGrinduro : Like a Grinduro, but with amenities!

Come for an adventurous ride around some of Wellington's Urban trails. Link up some Single track, back-streets, and town-belt. Bring your gravel bike and indulge in some #underbiking. Drop-bars for the most fun. It wont be much of a challenge on an MTB.

Record your ride with Strava if you want to compare your time.

Download the GPX file below.
You will need the GPX file as there are no course notes.

It's only about 40 kms but it will take you 3-5 hours depending on how many cafes you stop at. It's not a race, it's a casual ride. Bring at least a 1:1 gear as there are a couple of short steep bits. Easy to walk them though.

See you at 9am at the foot of the Transient Trail at Polhill, Aro Valley. 26/09/2021.
If you are worried about being slow, start earlier! If more than a few people turn up, we can start them in waves. 

If it's a nice day, afterwards we can roll around to the Rogue and Vagabond and Twist and Pour for refreshments.

Segments for KOMs
Full course
Sector 1
Sector 2
Sector 3
Sector 4



Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Q and A with Ollie Whalley on the Tour Te Waipounamu 2021

A chat with Ollie Whalley, rookie winner and record setter of the 2012 Tour Divide, on completion of his winning ride in the inaugral Tour Te Waipounamu.

So Ollie, it's been a few weeks now since your very successful ride in the inaugural Tour Te Waipounamu and on the surface it appeared to be a fairly trouble-free run. With the amazing weather we had it will take a special effort to beat your time of 5 days and 10 hours. Were there any issues that happened that we may not have noticed? For instance, we heard that there was a GPS cable issue? 

Yep a fairly trouble free run with the most significant issue being that my GPS (Garmin Edge 800) wouldn’t take charge from either my dynamo or backup battery. Turns out it was a dodgy USB cable, which may have fatigued from all the bumps. I used my back-up navigation (app on my phone), which while frustrating at times got me to the finish. 

I finally ran out of GPS battery in Methven so had to try and optimise my phone for navigation after that. I put it in battery saver mode, turned off the lock screen and dimmed it as much as I could 


Did you have an actual holder for your phone or were you constantly getting it in and out of
your pocket/gas-tank?

No phone holder so initially I just stashed it in my pocket. First the pocket of my jersey, but at the end when the terrain got mellower I put it in the handy side pocket of my Ground Effect limousine shorts. I was really paranoid about losing it! For my long stint on the last night I Macgyvered up a system where the phone case was taped to my gas tank. This made it a bit easier at night but was pretty floppy so I put it back in my pocket for the final ride to the finish.

The other thing I noticed riding down from Stag saddle was a cracked handlebar, probably from an earlier off-track excursion. Again they got me to the finish but have been retired from bike packing duty. 


I saw earlier that you went with one of the new Shimano dynamo hubs which are supposed to make more power at the lower speeds compared to the SON and SP hubs. What was your experience and if you were to do it again, would you recommend the dynamo approach?

Dynamo was awesome especially with the Shimano DH-UR700-3D hub which as you say puts out some good power at low speeds with the K-Lite charger. At 20 km/h I could charge my GPS in two hours, and 10,000 mah powerbank in 8 hours. I never ran short of charge despite the higher power usage of using my phone for navigation, and didn’t need to use my power socket USB charger at all. 


What supplementary lighting system did you go with for the slower stuff where the dynamo
wasn’t able to give you enough light?

I used an Exposure Diablo Mk7 which puts out 1300 lumens when required. I usually dialled it right down so it would last for 24 hours. USB charge, super light and simple to use. 


What about tires, did you err on the robust side, or did you go lighter and ride more conservatively?

I changed at the last minute from some butty Exo wall Ardents for some Specialized Renegades in 2.3 width. Super fast tread but quite thin sidewalls so I rode pretty conservatively, which is normally the best approach anyway. Would love to go back on my enduro bike and properly shred some of those downhills!

The only issue was a slow leak which wouldn’t seal on the Hawkdun range. I put in some goo (still no sealing), then a tube which got me to the finish. I got lucky with sharp rocks. I saw Martin’s deflating experience up Rainy River road where an innocuous rock massacred his sidewall and went on to cause him no end of drama. 


Is it more of a hassle if you get a rear puncture with a Rohloff, than a typical derailleur set-

Not really. Similar amount of faff to a rear derailleur once you learn the tricks to the Rohloff .


Was going with the Rohloff something you did specifically for this event, or was it just what
was on your bike at the time

Didn’t put it on especially, it is my preferred transmission which I’ve run on my hardtail since my first Brevet in 2010. Like no other bike part it seems to get better the more I use it! 


I noticed that my tools alone weighed more than half a kg. Do you feel like you took any risks in this department or did you treat it extra seriously, given that there were not really many places you could get help enroute? Did you take any spare cables, gear or usb, spokes or sidewall mending kit?

I took my normal spare parts kit which I think is pretty conservative. It included 2 x brake pads, spare chain links, spare bolts, tire plugs, spare goo, 2 x tubes. I did agonise over the last decision but remembered when I’d double flatted once in the past and how much it sucked.

I’ve never taken spare cables as if my shifter crapped out the hub effectively becomes an adjustable singlespeed. You can just hop off and change gears manually at the hub. I did leave my spare spokes behind this time, logic being that I could true the wheel to get it running straight enough without having to replace spokes. I love building wheels and personally rebuilt front and back wheels before the race to give certainty that they were less prone to breakage. 


What were some of the things you dropped from your kit that you might have taken on an event that required less carrying and pushing?

The only thing I can think of here is my Z-Packs tent which I replaced with a water resistant bivvy based on the good forecast. After a summer of lugging buckets of gravel up stairs at home for a landscaping project the weight of my bike and gear wasn’t much of a concern and I feel like I didn’t take too many risks. 


You mentioned in your story on the Ground Effect site that at different times you rode with Steve Halligan and Martin Strelka. Do you enjoy riding in the company of others or are you equally happy riding by yourself?

I squeeze most of my riding into my lunch hours, and have found that trying to squeeze in a decent loop around Nelson’s hills in this time isn’t that conducive to social riding. So I’m used to riding by myself and do enjoy this, but also relish the opportunity to ride with others, especially awesome riders like Steve and Martin. I was in a pretty low spot on Day 2 and reconnecting with Steve before we tackled the Dampier crossing was pretty cool and helped me get my head in a good space for the rest of the ride. 


Early front-runners Steve and Martin both had shoe issues, did you have any problems yourself?

I was running Specialized Rime 2.0s which were just awesome. Super grunty vibram sole, not too hot, super fast drying, boa with lacing backup to adjust fit and a good sized toe box. I still had sore feet especially when they didn’t get a chance to dry out, but I think these were great for the course. Mark and Hana also ran them. 


What do you think works for an event like this with such a large amount of hikeabike. A stiff
sole or a more flexible sole?

I think a moderate stiffness is good, provided there is still a bit of toe flex for when the walking get really steep. The Rime 2.0s came it at 6 on Specilaized’s stiffness index, whatever that means! 

My shoe choice worked really well for me but it may not for everyone. Martin planned it pretty well with sending himself some shoes to Boyle River, and planning to send them back in Tekapo. 


What part of the event did you find the most challenging? For me it was the hikeabike, probably on the Dampier Range, but the frustration of being on beautiful trails and having to stop so often to drag your bike over logs was also exasperating.

The most challenging part for me was following the poled route from Royal Hut to Stag Saddle. I may have taken some hot lines between poles which meant I was almost rock climbing in places. Definitely a relief to make it to the Saddle! 


Do you agree with the theory that having the Dampier Range up first was possibly a good thing - if you could deal with that then everything else would be easy by comparison, or is that only obvious in hindsight?

Dampier came at a really good time for me to just reset the kilometre hunting mindset and refocus on just surviving and making it through the course safely. As Steve and I did it we were just gobsmacked at how steep and difficult the carry was, and picked there would be a few people cursing Brian as they pushed and dragged up the ridge. 

I've decided that you can ride your bike for a long time, and not get too injured, but riding without resting is problematic. I listened to a recent interview with Kurt Refsnider -  He now only rides events of limited distance because of the damage they cause to his body. Is this something that worries you, long term damage? 

Definitely, this is something I’m very conscious of after some previous medical issues. This has included achilles tendonitis and nerve damage in my hands. In some ways the tough walking heavy course made this a healthier race for me as there was less time in the saddle and lots of chances to stretch different muscles. My hands are actually really good, with no numbness and just a little bit of lost strength. I put this down to a higher front end on my bike (140mm travel) which put more weight on my bum.


Time-lapse photography of a micro-nap

For you, is there a particular time of the day when you enjoy riding the most? For me it’s typically the evening, but I have to say, this time, if I happened across a hut at 8:30 then wild horses couldn’t drag me away!

My favourite time to ride is in the early morning, just before sunrise and the proceeding hours. Everything feels so fresh and new and I get pretty stoked on being out there at this time. Riding up out of Lawrence was a good example of this for me, the rollercoasters of Breakneck Road with the morning mist clearing was a highlight! 


Brian Alder gave us a lot of detail on what to expect in the TTW. Where do you feel you underestimated the level of difficulty the most? For me I think it was the amount of hikeabike through the Hawkdun Range.

The Dampier crossing was definitely a rude awakening for me and after that my level of ‘normal’ difficulty was reset to the point where I didn’t perceive the subsequent hike-a-bike as being too difficult. 


There were quite a few adventure racers that did very well in the TTW. What do you think it was about them that made them so competitive? Was it their creative bike carrying skills? 

Lots of good crossover with adventure racing. I would say the course they race on can be pretty difficult, and the amount of hiking required in TTW would play to their strengths. It was cool to hear about Georgia’s sneaky tricks in the Pedal On Podcast. Those are out of the bag now so she’ll have to come up with some new ones! 


In the gnarliest stuff, were you a pusher, a carrier or did you use a carrying harness? 

I pushed where I didn’t need to lift my front wheel, then when things got slower I’d lower my seat and hook the nose over my shoulder (either from the front or the back). I’d made a special foam and plastic protector and fitted it under my seat rails which worked with my bony collarbone. This meant I could carry hands free. I was lucky to be tall to get ground clearance, and could twist across the slope to get more. It took me some fine tuning to get this working but it is my preferred way to carry now. 


Hawkdun Range moonscape.

At different times, different people had problems digesting their food. Are you someone that has no problem eating on the run, or do you have to stop every so often for a more relaxed meal to give it time to digest?

I struggled on the second day. It took me about a day to get through a packet of Full-o-fruit which I normally wolf down. I’m happy to eat on the run, but would treat myself to a 10-15 min stop for lunch most days to have a proper meal. (mostly wraps and flavoured tuna packets). I’ve had some digestion issues in the past and it is pretty awful so feel for those people! 


You mentioned that since you started a family that your bikepacking activity has slowed down a lot. A quick look at the entrants shows quite a few people without kids. Do you feel extra lucky to be able to get out there on such a big adventure while you still have family commitments?

Absolutely. I’m super fortunate to have a supportive wife Heidi who saw how excited I was at the prospect of this big adventure and helped create some space for me to prepare. They get some benefits too as I’m a bit more chilled out during the recovery phase, lots of stories in bed and sedate family rides are enough to keep me content.  


Is there one piece of equipment that really stuck out for you as being something you would be lost without? 

Definitely my Ground Effect Limousines. A big fear for me was that my butt wouldn’t stand up to the abuse given the lack of chamois time, but with these amazing shorts I was fine and came through with no drama. I used the sidepockets heaps too and being merino they weren’t even (that) stinky after 5.5 long days. 

Thanks heaps for sharing Ollie!


Slope Point. The end.

 Ollies kit, (Thanks Ben) from

EXPERIENCE: Tour Divide winner and record holder 2012, Tour Aotearoa etc.

BIKE:I’m riding a Lynskey Ridgeline SL 29, my front wheel is a Shimano DH-UR708-3D dynamo hub on Light Bikes carbon rim and the rear is a Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 on No tubes Arch. Brakes and crankset are Shimano XT. Handlebars are Carver MyTi carbon and forks are X-Fusion Trace 140m. USB charge/light are kLite Ultra.

BAGS:The frame pack, chaff, handlebar roll and top tub garage are Bike Bad Dude with a Blackburn Outpost Elite saddle bag

SLEEPING: Titanium Goat Ptarmigan Bivy, Western Mountaineering HIghlite sleeping bag and Thermarest NeoAair XLite mat.

NUTRITION: Snickers bars


Website: mountainpedalernz Instagram: @whalleyollie


Monday, March 08, 2021

Tour Te Waipounamu race report

The Tour Te Waipounamu bikepacking race was held in Aotearoa New Zealand, starting on February 14th 2021, it covered 1300 kilometres of rugged back country.

When word filtered down about Brian Alders Tour Te Waipounamu there was a lot of speculation about just how hard it would be. Brian said it would likely be harder than anything we had ever done before. A limit of 50 riders was set, and by the time the event kicked off, 13 of the entrants had either injured themselves in the pursuit of "normalising difficult" in their training or had had second thoughts on whether or not it was actually a good idea. 1300 kilometres and 20,000 vertical metres to traverse the length of Aotearoa New Zealand's South Island - Te Waipounamu, was no small thing, not because of the riding, because of the pushing and carrying.

It was a "who is who" of NZ bikepacking with 5 top 5 Tour Divide riders and a few other Tour Divide finishers as well. Riders at the front were expected to be 2012 TDV winner, Ollie Whalley, two times TDV 4th placegetter Steve Halligan, French and Bohemian Divide winner Martin Strelka, and Tony LeSueur, 5th in the 2019 TDV. 

Brian gives a briefing at Wharariki

Ollie, Georgia, Patrick and the magic duck, picking who he thinks will be first across the line.

There were also 3 crazy singlespeed guys, including the World Singlespeed champ, Tad Medjr all riding rigid SS Karate Monkeys. The variation in bikes was pretty widespread, a few taking fullies but most opting for hardtails. Ollie Walley and Tony Lesur ran Rohloff hubs. I think Steve Halligan was the only person using drop bars.

We knew there would be hikeabike, river crossings, DOC huts to stay in, in some places and the weather, but we weren't sure what kind of weather. The long range forecast was good.

Of the 32 that would finish, 6 of them would be women, 18 % of the field, and with a 100 % finishing rate. Some riders were cycle adventurers like Hana Black and her partner Mark Watson, some were Adventure Racers like Georgia Whitla and her partner Patrick Higgins. Others would be endurance bikepacking specialists like Ollie, Steve and Martin.

Wharariki beach

Day 1. Cape Farewell to Murchison via Rameka track, Tapawera and the Porika Track – 266 kms. 7am – 11:30 pm
For some reason I decided to roll out with the fast guys. Not a very clever idea in hindsight and after a couple of hours, having traversed a good bit of seal and some beach, we started on Takaka's Rameka Track. I probably got passed by about 8 people from the bottom to the top. The Rameka was in pretty good shape and you could only wonder how much fun it would be without a load. I settled into a rhythm and watched as a few riders rolled past me, Georgia Whitla, Patrick Higgins and Hedley Wilton. I had no idea of the Adventure Racing pedigree they had that would stand them in good stead. Apparently Georgia was the world Rogaine champ as well.

Startline, Wharariki - 7am

I rode for quite a bit with Liam Crozier who is working for Ground Effect in Christchurch, we knew a few of the same people so had a bit to talk about. He was wearing a funky full length upper body sun-suit, and swore it was not hot. We stopped to fill up our bottles in a stream and were surprised to see Steve Halligan come up from behind and fill up too. He'd started to feel unwell and had taken a bit of a rest, hence he was behind us. We called in at Tapawera to restock, as it didn't seem likely that anything would be open if we made it to Murchison that night. As Liam and I rolled out my training buddy Chris Shaw turned up with an old Tour Aotearoa buddy, Steve Scott and race organiser, Brian Alder. A while later on a particularly unpleasant hydro road climb they were to catch up.... to me anyway. Liam grew another leg and disappeared. Brian eventually rode away, and at some point Kath Kelly rode through us on her 26er.  Eventually Chris, Steve and I hit the Porika track together.  I felt pretty cooked by the top of the Porika having done a fair bit of walking and was thankful that Chris had actually waited for me. The Porika had never been such hard work before. I guess my early pace was catching up with me.

The Rameka Track from Takaka to Harwoods Hole.

It was starting to dawn on me that this was actually a race. Not a matey dirt-brevet where everyone rode together and stopped and waited at certain points. And there was no compulsory stand-down time like many of the dirt-brevets we have in NZ. As an older rider I was really going to miss this lack of recovery time. Chris and I camped in a grassy field in the middle of Murchison having cranked out 266 kms, which was to be the longest daily distance I would cover in the Tour Te Waipounamu.
| Me - 266 kms
| Ollie - 315 kms

Day 2. Murchison to Boyle River and Hope Kiwi Lodge – 142 kms – 5:45am to 8:30pm
By the time I left at 5:45am the next morning everyone else who was in Murchison seemed to have gone. We took the usual way out of Murchison through the Matakitaki and the Maruia Saddle's lovely Beech forest followed by a muddy diversion through some farm land before getting back onto the mixture of seal and gravel that lead to Springs Junction.

Matakitaki River

The Beech Forests of the Maruia Saddle.

After a leisurely resupply and I hit the Lewis Pass on what was turning out to be a lovely hot day. More beautiful scenery as I rode through Maruia Springs and eventually made it to Boyle River where the predelivered food packages we had sent were waiting for us. As I suspected I would, I left a lot of the food behind, and picked through some other rider's discards as well. Its amazing what you cant stomach after just one days riding, and to think that I trained pretty exclusively on Bumper Bars! Thanks for the beer sticks to whoever left them behind. As I left Boyle River Mark Rayward and Caleb Helkenn turned up. 10 minutes later they rode past me on the road as I was following the wrong path down the side of a fence..... one of a few lapses in concentration that saw me screw up and miss a turn. Mark Rayward told me he had a great nights sleep in a motel somewhere and left Murch at 7:15am. Somehow he'd already taken 1.5 hours out of me. He looked to be travelling light. I chatted to Caleb for a bit and lost touch with them after negotiating the first nasty swing bridge at Windy Point. It was a real bastard, and not one that was ameniable to pushing with the front wheel up. Somehow I persevered and got through it.

Hope River Track

Hope River Track
After some initial steepness the trail eventually flattened out and took us through some pretty spectacular bush. Unfortunately there seemed to be a fallen log over the trail every 20 metres or so which had you wondering if it really made sense to remount your bike at times. Initially I was blithering and frustrated as hell, but after a while I noticed that I had started to learn from the feed-back that the terrain was giving me, and I started to ride, and push, more efficiently. I think I reached Hope Kiwi Lodge at around 8pm and decided it was a nice place to stop. After a while Mark Watson and Peter Maindonald turned up. Mark had been having some issues with his achilles but had already made all the normal adjustments to try and fix it. Mark was part of the early MTB scene in Wellington from the late 80's but more recently was on a three year tour of the Americas before Covid cut it short. Peter has been a part of the NZ Bikepacking scene since the first Kiwi Brevet in 2010 and now organises the Megagrind events near Rotorua. I had my first Radix dehy meal (cold) which left me feeling pretty damn sick actually. We decided to leave at 6am the next morning.

Hope River Track

| Me - 142 kms
| Ollie - 149 kms
Day 3. Hope Kiwi Lodge to Andersons Hut via Lake Sumner, Hurunui River and Dampier Range– 55kms, 6am to 8:30 pm
 I think Pete was still sipping his hot drink when Mark and I rolled out, and I lost Marks tail pretty quickly in the singletrack. By the time I got to the Hurunui River at the top of Lake Sumner a cold southerly had come through with a very light rain.

Lake Sumner

I went back and forth between the River and the nasty swing-bridge before deciding to dismantle my bike to get it over the crazy steep swing-bridge. I couldn't tell if the River was level was safe enough so erred on the side of caution. After dicking about for so long I was not at all surprised to see Peter Maindonald catch me up. We seemed to be moving at a similar pace and rode on together to reach the Esk River at 1:30pm. We were warned that we needed to be there by 12pm if we wanted to get over the Dampier Range comfortably in the daylight. We thought we'd give it a crack. 
Dampier Range

Peter Maindonald on the Dampier Range
The Dampier Range was really hard. It just got steeper and more difficult the higher up we got. Pete and I were both pushing and dragging our bikes as neither of us had learned how to carry them across our backs properly. I had a special sling I'd built, but after I nearly lost balance on a bluff on the Hope Kiwi trail I had sworn off using it again. It's difficult to describe how hard this segment was. I don't think I have ever done anything even a tenth as hard as this was. I am sure it would have been a great hike, or even a run, but dragging a heavy bike through the tussock just seemed insane.
After around 7 hours of dragging and pushing a bunch of other riders appeared out of the mist behind us. Olly Manson, Matt Quirk, Andrew Trevalyn and Brendan Pheasant. I must have been pretty cooked as I struggled down the hill trying to find the few rideable bits and eventually could only really find the exit track when I saw a large fire blazing near the hut. I had no rear brake at this stage which didn't help matters much. Everyone seemed pretty smashed and I set up my tent and got straight into my bag, with my sleeping bag liner, beanie, buff and puffer jacket on over the top of my smelly riding gear. Someone slept in a bivvy under the trees which was a smart move given the frost all over our gear when we awoke in the morning. Apparently Dulkara Martig got caught out on the Range and managed to survive. A legit mountain woman! If I did 55kms, as the tracker suggests, then I averaged 3.7 kmh for the 14.5 hours riding. Or 2.2 kmh for the Dampier Range itself, including the descent.

Andersons Hut. A bit frosty.

| Me - 55 kms
| Ollie - 224 kms
Day 4. Andersons Hut through Cass Saddle, to Hamilton Hut -79kms, 8am to 7:30 pm
Everyone seemed to have slept in and we probably didn't leave until about 8am. I came across Andrew Trevelyan who had broken his thru-axle quick release so was obviously scared of what he would do if he had an unsealable puncture. The next part of the ride was pretty enjoyable as it was either wide open climbing or fast descending. No hikeabike, for now. I came across a couple of trail angels who supercharged me with a cup of hot coffee. Oh what a feeling. Warm fluid, and I had weened myself off coffee before the TTW so it was extra special.

Poulter River
Cass River bash and Saddle ascent
I caught up to Brendan at the start of the Cass River where he was getting some trail angel goodness as well. This was next level trail love where I scored a bacon buttie and a Parrot Dog beer. Hell yeah!
We pushed our bikes up the Cass river bed and after a while Olly Manson recaught me, then Andrew Trevelyan followed by Matt Quirke. Eventually I got to the saddle but I was clearly blithering on the partially rideable descent. It really was a beautiful walking track but wrangling a 26 kg bike over it was pretty damn horrible. Not having a rear brake meant that I couldn't use it to stabilise my bike on the steep pushes, so my abdomen was taking the brunt of stopping the bike from rolling back.The fronts of my ankles were really sore and I was having problems just steering the bike. You don't realise how much your feet do in technical riding until they stop functioning properly. 
Cass Saddle

Cass Saddle descent

My tracker implies that it took me about 4 hours of hike-a-bike to reach the Cass Hutt, after which the descent started. I walked most of it as it was clearly safer for me on a loaded bike, with no rear brake. There was eventually some nice flowy ridable track in the lead up to Hamilton Hut that I enjoyed. I got there about 8:30 pm and decided to call it quits for the day. Matt Quirke was there, as was Andrew Trevelyan who had managed to destroy his rear derailleur after a near miss involving an unplanned trip off the edge of the trail somewhere. Matt helped him square it up a bit and he carried on. Peter Maindonald turned up again too. The hut was pretty nice and had quite a few Te Araroa trail walkers in it, as well as DOC workers who were doing some maintenance. In the confusion of the next morning, somehow I left 2 of my 3 water bottles behind. Never mind, we were about to cross the Harper river a gazillion times the next morning.
| Me - 79 kms
| Ollie - 167 kms

Day 5. Hamilton Hut to Methven – Short Day - 81kms, 6am to 12:30pm
Once again, Pete was still sipping his hot drink at 6am so Matt and I left, only to get lost twice in the dark in about 5 minutes... I found the next part pretty tough, trying to follow the GPS trail up the Harper River and got completely stuck in bush in a couple of places. I was wondering how robust my dynamo hub was going to be after being completely submerged on a couple of occasions but it seemed to come through alright. It was pretty cold but once I was able to get up to speed my mood improved. I was so glad I was wearing my Ground Effect Storm Strooper. Beforehand I was worried that it may not be as breathable as some of the new Shake Dry products out there, but the added warmth I got from it was a major help to me, as I can get the shakes within minutes of stopping moving if I get cold. I was passing a steady stream of Te Araroa Trail walkers and was getting into some faster riding. 
Lake Selfe

Once on the seal I decided to plug in my Mp3 player for the first time and completely missed a turn-off to lose myself about 4 kms. I rolled into Methven in pretty bad shape. I was wobbly on my feet with my messed up ankles and I was wondering what to do. Mark Watson was there and had been resting his achilles since the previous day. Peter Maindonald was there, having passed me when I took my wrong turn, Matt Quirke was there, doing a resupply, and the father of my good friend Janet was there, (Bruce Arnst), from the famous Arnst cycling family. Bruce is 80 and has only recently stopped riding. It was great to see him, especially considering my tracker's spotty performance. 
Me and 80 year old dot-watcher, Bruce Arnst - Bruce on the right ; )
I was seriously thinking about pulling out. Mark suggested I have an early stop like he was and try and get some recovery in. So at 12:30 pm I got a room and tried to have a rest. I took my bike into Big Al's bike shop, and Kirsty had bled my brakes before I even finished my coffee. Awesome. In the next 6 hours or so a whole bunch more people would catch up and pass me. Chris Byrch, Dulkara Martig, Geof Blance, Ken Scott, and Rachel Berry. I watched them all ride past. It felt very weird trying to relax in my flash motel unit. I couldn't even get to sleep, but I did enjoy a soak in the bath and managed to ice my tendons a bit. I also got some topical gel to rub on my swollen ankles. The fluid build-up around my ankles wasn't something I had experienced before so presumabley it was related to the hike-a-bike. Mark gave me some strapping material and I googled up a strapping pattern, it was worth a shot. Later that evening I went out for a pub meal with Mark and his partner Hana Black who had just turned up, and Geof, Ken and Rachel. I couldnt believe how light Mark's bike was compared to mine so I jetisoned some gear. Mark and Hana decided they would leave at 4am the next morning so I said I would join them. 
| Me - 81 kms
| Ollie - 225 kms

Day 6. Methven to Royal Hut - 140km, 4am to 5:30pm
When I cracked open the door Hana was ready to roll, but Mark was still tucked up nice and toasty. His achilles was still bugging him. We took off on what was one of the faster segments of riding. I couldn't believe how fast Hana was riding on those 2.6 Mezcals on the tar-seal. She was hauling. It was obviously dark, a little bit cold and there was no walking, so apart from the air being filled with the putrid combo of cow-shit and turnips ? - I was relatively happy. It was a pretty fast ride to Mesapotomia, although I seemed to have erased a nasty rocky segment from my memory. I recall some great trail magic from a guy called Brian Prestige, so appreciated. I caught up to Dulkara and we chatted for a bit. I cracked on and was enjoying the lack of technical riding which was good for my ankles. 
It was another crazy hot day but I seemed to be coping well with it. I actually enjoyed the 800m Bullock Bow Saddle hikeabike, once again because the walking was completely non-technical. I had decided that the issues with my front shin tendons were possibly aggravated by my very flat-footed walking gait, and in hindsight, my crap carrying technique (pushing), so I made a conscious effort to walk on the front part of my shoes, plus I loosened them off a lot because of the swelling. By this time I believe that two of the front-runners already had some pretty bad shoe failures. I had actually repaired mine earlier in the year with dental floss where some of the stitching had failed, and the repair was holding up well. 
Bullock Bow Saddle

 There was plenty of water on the trail and for the first time I started to notice some wild-life. Crickets, grasshoppers, skinks and some strange grey cicadas. 

 I was underwhelmed with the birdlife pretty much everywhere we went. Some of us thought we heard a Kaka on the Hope River track and I could hear a few squeaks from what may have been a Bush Robin at times. 
I honestly cant remember the descent off the top of Bullock Bow pass, but I do remember the last bit to Royal Hut which was more ugly tussock bashing. The hut was full of TA hikers with one bed left so I snaffled that, despite it only being around 5:30 pm. My aero bars had started to come loose and I had some serious rejiggery to do which involved taking off my whole front harness.

Apparently Chris Byrch had gone through an hour earlier and the TA trampers in the hut were concerned about her as she looked pretty whacked. In the next 6 hours the hut was to become very popular. I think Hana was the next to turn up, then Dulkara, then Geof, Ken, Rachel and Chris and Bob and I think Amanda. Later that night there was another arrival. Mark had left the motel in Methven and he did an earlier depart with Hana at 5am. 

Royal Hut

Ken, Hana, Dulkara, Rachel, Geof and Jeff.

| Me - 140 kms
| Ollie - 236 kms
Day 7. Royal Hut to Haldane Arm campsite, via Stag Pass, Round Hill ski Field and Tekapo - 113kms, 6am to 11pm
I was pretty apprehensive about the next section of hikeabike as I knew it was going to be hell on my shins. But I set off at 6am, diligently pushing my bike, only to be passed a few minutes later by Dulkara, and then Rachel, who were both carrying their bikes across their backs. It looked so uncomfortable, but they were moving really quickly. Rachel kindly showed me how to do it and man it was easy by comparison. You just didn't need to stop at all. Rachel had it nailed. She had taken the crap off her bike, put it in a back-pack, and used the back-pack as a buffer between her back and the bike frame. I compromised by hanging my heaviest drybag off the top of my daypack.
Before long the other crusty males, Geof and Ken were also doing it. You CAN teach old dogs new tricks! The terrain was pretty crazy, big sharp red boulders in places. I cant believe I only rolled my ankle once on the whole tour. We reached the summit to meet Dulkara live streaming our newfound carrying skills to the world via her Instagram channel. Amazingly there was cell phone coverage up there. Somehow we had foolishly imagined an amazing descent down into Tekapo. There was none. There was more walking, a nice little piece of Matagouri to navigate, and another crazy steep piece of bike-carry that had me cussing Brian's name out loud.  
Stag Saddle

No stranger to adversity, Geof Blance finished 4th in the 2014 Tour Divide. This time he chose to ride with his good buddy Ken Scott, another Tour Divide Veteran. I don't think the Tour Divide was anything like this

"Ok, now where is the sweet down-hill ?"

Yep, probably the steepest of all the bike carry segments.


I was so glad when I eventually saw the Round Hill Ski field access road that I shot down it, completely missing the turn onto the Richmond Track, probably my 3rd major navigational balls-up. I back-tracked a kilometer and got back onto the trail which I was finding really hard work with my ankles. Imagine my surprise when up ahead I saw a couple dealing to a puncture on the side of the track. It was Chris and Bob. They had passed me when I made the wrong turn. Given my nana-skills it was only minutes before they rode past me again. It still seemed like a really long way into Tekapo and it was hot as hell. 
When I eventually got there I ordered fish and chips, sculled a coke, a ginger beer, a chocolate milk, and another coke, then I went to stock up at the Supermarket. It's interesting to see what it is you crave when you can eat anything you like. It wasn't like I hadn't been eating and drinking constantly all day either. Rachel was the last person I spoke to in Tekapo and she said they were heading for Haldon Arm Camp ground so that seemed like a plan. 
I set off wondering what treats were in store for me for the rest of the day. The initial stretch out of town was smooth and fast and took in some Alps to Ocean cycle trail, but eventually the trail turned into this rocky 4WD track that was pretty rough. Maybe the shadows cast by my dynamo lights made it look worse than it was, but I got the distinct feeling that I wasn't missing much in the way of scenery in this segment. 
Ocean to Alps Cycle Trail
For some reason my front suspension travel had become half what it was, but it never occurred to me to let some air out of my tires. I groveled on to the strangely quiet camp site and set up my tent at around 11pm. No sign of Geof's group. Something was moving around outside my tent all night long, I thought maybe a Weka, but apparently its not Weka country. Maybe a Taniwha?
| Me - 113 kms
| Ollie - zzzZZZZzzz

Day 8. Haldon Arm Campground to Oturehua via Lake Benmore, Black Forest Station Otematata and Hawkdun Range - 125kms, 6am to 10:30pm
I left at around 6am and it was a pleasant ride on through to the Black Forest Station. I had a minor freak out when my GPS track disappeared but I think I was too far zoomed in on it for the resolution. At one point I could see something in the middle of the track and my brain wasn't recognizing what it was - it was a wallaby. The first of 3 that I would see that morning. It was very scenic rugged country and while I guess there was a bit of climbing I didn't notice it too much. There was a lovely descent down into Lake Benmore Dam and on to Otematata where the lady at the shop was very helpful and even offered to wash and fill up my bottles. What a star. 
Lake Benmore
It was another amazingly hot day and as I tried to shelter in front of the Dairy I heard a local say it was going to be 32 degrees. I left Otematata at 11am and after riding through some really amazing looking rock scree areas I got to the old hut among the trees at around 2:30pm, so the worst of the heat had probably gone, but the actual hikeabike was mostly yet to start. I found this section mentally very hard. My feet were pretty good to be honest, but there was this real "bear went over the mountain thing" going on. Every time you thought you were at a summit, there was another, and another, and another. 
Looking back towards lake Benmore.
It was very barren country and it became obvious that I was way short on water, as there were no streams up there. This would have been a good place to have that 3rd bottle or Camelbak topped up. I caught up to Hana who was feeling a bit fragged, having started a couple of  hours earlier than me I guess. I carried on and before long she had caught and past me again on one of the rougher descents. I spent a lot of time feeling envious of Hana and Marks fat tires on the rough stuff. I'm not sure how much of this stuff was hikeabike, it seemed like most of it. It was like a crazy moonscape that would be best traversed in a Unimog, such were the size of the rocks on it. 
I was getting desperate for water and for the first time tried to use my filter bag to scoop some water out of a puddle that had formed on the side of the track. The final descent of the Hawkdun range was pretty rough but somehow I managed to stick with Hana, but losing my 3rd water bottle of the tour in the process. I'd only just bought it in Methven ! From now on I would be using a disposable drink bottle. It took us quite a while to get from the trail end to Oturehua at about 9:30pm. We had tried to ring for food and accommodation to no avail. While we were thinking about what next, out of the darkness we heard a woman's voice "are you looking for accommodation?" She had been out watering the garden and saw us roll in. She hooked us up with Bill at the Crows Nest and man, what an experience. Hot showers, baked beans and eggs, tea, coffee. I am pretty sure I drunk 5 cups of tea. It was amazing. Unfortunately the big tube of "embrocation" cream that was in my toiletries bag had burst open during the Stag Saddle hikeabike, and unnoticed by me had infiltrated my toothbrush. My mouth has not been the same since. 
I had to do a resupply at Gilchrests store when it opened at 7:30 so I got a big sleep in, compared to Hana who was on the road by 5am. I had to feel for Geof and Ken and the guys in their group who had to shelter in the hut on the top of the Hawkdun range. I cant imagine there was enough dirt up there to hold a tent peg so it would have been cosy in the hut. Probably a bit stinky too. Everyone jokes about being smelly, but I can honestly say I never noticed it on anyone. Maybe your body shuts down these senses when it goes into survival mode  ; )


Hawkdun Range. Barneys Spur, Walking Spur, all the good stuff.
| Me - 125 kms
| Ollie - zzzZZZZzzz

Day 9. Oturehua to Lawrence via Lake Onslow and Mt Teviot - 162kms, 8am to 8:30pm
I spent 90$ on junk food at Gilchrests store when they opened at 7:30. When the guy asked me who I was I said "Jeff". He said, "Oh someone has shouted you a coffee!" Wow, it would be rude not to take advantage of this kind offer, so I did... Then it clicked.... "Oh that would be Geof Blance, not me!" Too late.. I hit the road at 8am, dreaming of a day with no hikeabike. I was feeling pretty good and started to listen to some tunes on my phone. 

The rugged scenery of the old Dunstan road was amazing with those rocky outcrops, I expected to get ambushed by bandits at any moment. I pretty much enjoyed all the 4wd trails but had a moment when I got momentarily on the wrong side of a fence and was trying to wrangle my bike over the top barbed wire. I seemed to be losing strength and wondered how the hell I had got this far. The bars swung around and smacked me in the side of the head, breaking the arm off my glasses. It could have been a lot worse I guess. Somehow they still managed to hang off my face so I didn't bother to roll out my insulation tape just yet. 

I kept on rolling down the descent and skidded to a halt when I saw a bike and sleeping cyclist lying in a sliver of shade. It was Hana, who awoke with a start. I stopped for a bit and chatted. We rode on and eventually came across a couple of women working some sheep through some sheep yards. We filled up our bottles and used their conveniences, very civilized. An awesome downhill down into Beaumont followed and eventually we were onto the Otago Rail Trail. 


There is a great convenience store in Lawrence that is open from 6am to 11pm, when I got there I started to consume as much fatty salty food as I my destroyed tongue could tolerate, and added a few pies to my collection. Trying to get somewhere to stay was the next challenge and on the third attempt we got a reluctant bite from a lady who said she was in her pajamas, but ok. Actual accommodation, two nights in a row. We were getting soft. It seemed that the group behind us all got beds at Beaumont 20kms behind.
| Me - 162 kms
| Ollie - zzzZZZZzzz

Day 10. Lawrence to Slope Point – 151 kms, 4am to 1:30 pm

Lets do this thing

We rolled out at 4am, straight into a very large hill. It was pretty fast riding after that and there seemed to be a prevailing tail-wind. About 4 hours later I was having a good break at the gas station in Clinton. It tried to rain a bit but once again didn't really amount to anything. Just out of town I had the brilliant idea to put a bit more air in my tires since it was mostly seal or gravel I was on. It felt a lot better.  At one point I stopped for a drink but changed my mind when I saw that the low-mounted bottle was completely covered in cow shit. Coming into the Catlins there were a ton of camper vans, and then Rob the film maker did some drive-bys. I knew I was close to Slope Point but it couldn't come quick enough. Another climb and a descent and I was there. 

As always in these kind of events, the finish is very anti-climatic. I knew it would be a while before I actually understood what I had achieved, if I ever did. Maybe the closest I got was a week later when I was in a rental car agency with my daughter and I saw a big map of the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. It also had the words "Te Waipounamu" on it. I looked at it and thought, I just rode/pushed/carried my bike down that.

It was called the Tour Te Waipounamu, and I think what I did was a tour. What Ollie and Tony did was a race. Tony's 11 hours sleep for the whole event is not something I can really comprehend. That everyone finished under 10 days says something about the quality of the field. 

The scariness of the challenge is a big part of what made it a desirable thing to do. Thanks Bill Brierly for pointing that out to me, and thanks Brian for putting it out there.
| Me - 151 kms
| Ollie - zzzZZZZzzz

The details.

Oliver Whalley 5d 10h 34 m
Tony LeSueur 5d 19h 58 m
Hedley Wilton 6d 7h 50m
Georgia Whitla 6d 16h 40m (1st woman)
Martin Strelka 6d 16h 40m
Patrick Higgins 6d 16h 40m
Brian Alder 7d 2h 53m
Kath Kelly 7d 3h 44m (2nd woman)
Steve Halligan 7d 5h 15m
"The Monkey's " Stephen Butterworth, Phil Walter, Tad Mejdr 7d 8h 10m (1st  Team & singlespeed)
Liam Crozier 7d 9h 30m
Caleb Helkenn 7d 14h 22m
Mark Rayward 7d 14h 22m
Chris Shaw 7d 20h 3m
Olly Manson 8d 7h 50m
Matt Quirk 8d 8h 22m
Brendan Pheasant 8d 8h 42m
Pete Maindonald 8d14h 4m
Andrew Trevelyan 8d 14h 30m
Christine Byrch 8d 23h 5m (3rd woman)
Mark Watson 9d 0h 15m
Jeff Lyall 9d 6h 30m
Hana Black 9d 9h 9m
Brenda Clap (Bob) & Chris Burr 9d 10h 2m (2nd team)
Rachel Berry 9d 11h 54m
Amanda Wells 9d 11h 54m
Dulkara Martig 9d 11h 54m
Geof Blance & Ken Scott 9d 12h 28m (3rd team)
Steve Scott @ 817km
Steven MacLeod @ 525km
Anaru Scott @ 432km
Nathan Mawkes @ 385km
Brian Anderson @ 385 km

Tour Te Waipounamu 2021





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