Tour Aotearoa 2021, done and dusted!
Sorry for the delayed writeup, but I have been recovering from an epic Tour Aotearoa. And, I managed to complete it within the timeframe I’d set myself. Now, complete with numb hands and sore knees I’ll try and explain what an epic experience riding this amazing route was like.
It all started with catching a shuttle up to the start line a day before we started. I say we, as there were 3 of us, Neil, Tim, and myself. After a very sleepless night, bugger all breakfast, and a pretty steep hill to climb before the start of the Tour Aotearoa began, we were off.
Starting at Cape Reinga, we cruised for 15km towards the beach. We’re finally rolling. After 4 months of planning and fretting, we were off. It’s a pretty easy cruise to the beach. Gentle rolling hills, but as predicted, it was pissing down. Less than ideal. But it soon stopped, in typical Northland fashion.
The beach, what can I say. Many liked this section. I hated it. The ability to see the horizon, the place to which you’re riding towards, but never reach, is unappealing. Yet, here we were, riding towards Ahipara. A small unattractive town at the bottom end of the beach. The wind was howling. And fortunately I was riding with 3 others. I was shielded from some of the wind. Neil rode like a demon, and did over 60% on the front. I, on the other hand tried to hide from the front.
For me, the beach was dreadful. It was one of my least favourite sections of the whole ride. To say I hated it is an understatement. I detested it. Cycling 103 Km down a windswept beach, yeah, nah. The only benefit is that it takes you away from a main road with crazy Kiwi drivers.
Once off the beach we searched in vain to find the site where we were able to wash our bikes, and more importantly, coffee and lunch. We were parched. It’s hard yakker riding on a windswept beach for 5 hours and only 3 litres of water.
We found a cafe, only for them to inform us that they’d just had a power cut and wouldn’t be fixed until 4:30. Ok, we’ll eat everything cold. We cleaned out the pies, sandwiches and drinks. Now onward to Opononi. Well, after we’d cycled another 100 km.
The real TA starts after the beach. Riding from Ahipara to Broadwood and Rawene. The gravel road was closed to us. The alternative route was sealed and fast. We also managed to catch the 6pm ferry across to Rawene. A nice surprise. This is where we all had dinner.
Now I’m not usually one for fried food, but the Hokianga Takeaways fish and chips was superb. So bloody fresh that I thought I saw it still wriggling. That didn’t stop me or the others, though. Once devoured, we made our way gingerly to Opononi, where’d be staying at the light house motel. I’d thoroughly recommend.