Cape Reinga to Bluff in 16 days

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A simple conversation more than 12 months ago has turned into the trip of a lifetime for a group of Oamaru cyclists.
David Rush, Sheldon Rush and Linton Clarke recently cycled the length of New Zealand, along with Wanaka’s Malcolm Jennings, while Michael Bartlett, also of Oamaru, joined them on the South Island leg of the more than 2000km journey, and Brent Wilson acted as support driver.
The group’s route took them along the West Coast of both islands, after they left Cape Reinga on January 23.
They cycled through towns such as Dargaville, Whanganui, Masterton, Blenheim, Reefton, Haast and Wanaka, before they arrived in Bluff on February 7 _ 16 days after they left Northland.
Mr Clarke said the trip was all about “a bunch of guys who just wanted to do it”.
“There are a few of us that cycle _ we all have an interest in cycling.
“David has previously biked the South Island in 2000 on a charity ride for the Oamaru pool. “I said I’d like to do something like that. To ride the length of the country would be a great achievement . . . we said why don’t we do it?“A few others expressed some interest as well. About 12 months ago, we thought we should do it.”The group averaged 167km a day in the North Island and about 140km a day in the South Island.
The most ground covered in a day was 190km _ between Dargaville and Auckland.
“The hills in the North Island are a bit different to the hills in the South Island,” Mr Clarke said.
“The hills are more rolling but not quite as steep. “North of Raglan, they were continuously up and down, whereas down here they’re short and sharp.”He said the weather was “absolutely fantastic”, with only one and a-half hours of rain the whole time the group cycled, while conditions were more often than not “hot and humid”.
With only a few flat tyres and no mechanical breakdowns, Mr Clarke said stress levels were low, so the group could enjoy what the countryside had to offer.
“Northland was a real highlight for most of the guys; it was a really friendly place. “We got to chat with the locals. “They thought we were crazy, what we were doing.
“For me, it was the West Coast. I’d always wanted to ride the West Coast, having lived on that side of the Alps for a while.”While on the West Coast of the South Island, the group was treated to a surprise helicopter flight to Fox Glacier courtesy of Mr Clarke’s brother, a helicopter pilot.
Asked what the most challenging aspect of the trip was, Mr Clarke said it was all in the mind.
“The toughest thing was probably mentally, cycling day after day. It wasn’t physically challenging. We were on the bikes at 6.30am and you knew you had to cover 150km in a day because we had accommodation booked in the next town.”He said Bluff Hill was a tough slog and was “as tough as what they say it is”.
“I would do something like it again but I don’t think I’d do that particular trip again. It was certainly a fantastic experience.”
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