The 5 Passes Tour 2019
The ultimate New Zealand bike tour, the 5 Passes Tour 2019 lived up to the hype. A circular 4 day staged race/event, from Christchurch back to Christchurch.
Christchurch to Hanmer Springs
The day started at 5 am, on a Saturday! This is to allow all of the riders to safely leave Christchurch. Thos South Island drivers can be a bit loose. We were heading for Hanmer Springs, the quaint alpine town just 130km, or 1 hour 40 mins by car if going direct. Yet we’d be travelling 165km, today.
The first 40km were neutralised. This is a great time to ride and chat. It’s a very social event, just the way we like it. There’s always time for racing your new-found friends, but quite often this is overlooked. Usually the focus is on the racing that the reason we ride bikes is for the social aspect, otherwise, you’d not ride group events.
The first race stage took place between Ashley and Waipara Hills Winery. As soon as the group started it was all on. The riders were super excited, some too much. The pace sat around 40kph, with the sprint reaching 60. The first sprint point I dropped back. I didn’t want to be in the carnage on day 1 (that theme continued throughout the tour).
At the end of the first stage, we had coffee at Waipara Hills Winery. A great architectural design building, with good wine and friendly staff ( you see where I’m going with all of this friendliness!) The South Islanders are very friendly. And that’s a good thing.
We were soon back on the road again. Another 50km race stage. It was full gas from the off. I got dropped from the front third of the bunch. I was very conscious that this was only day 1, with 3 more racing days to come. I couldn’t afford to burn every match in the box. I soon found myself cycling with a very confident rider, Julia Spark. Throughout the next few days, we’d ride together a lot more.
Julia and I were finally joined by another 10 or so riders. We’d been rolling through up until this point, and would soon be upon another sprint point. It didn’t matter, the points were all gone. I’d been sat on the front, only Julia and I working. My legs were strong. And this is where cycling etiquette comes into play. After someone’s on the front, dragging your sorry arse for a few Kms, don’t be an arse and sprint for non-existent points. Don’t be that guy!
Back to the race. We rode until the finish of the timed segment, with a couple of others only joining in towards the end of the stage. You’re welcome. You can thank Julia and me next year, hopefully she’ll ride again.
The 2 race segments concluded the individual General Classification (GC) timed stages. Once we’d reached Hanmer it was time for our first foray into a Team Time Trial, (TTT). And given we’d not practised, we all did bloody well. This and not wanting to ruin our legs for the next few days. Next stop, beer!
All the food and wine is included in the entry price. The dinner is just as much fun at the ride itself. This is how racing bikes should be. An awesome start to a great 4 days.