This week, the Oamaru Mail will be printing local cycling enthusiast Adair Craik’s experiences through each stage of the Tour of Southland. Pick up tomorrow’s edition for ‘Stage One.’
For four years, local Adair Craik has been a helper at the Tour of Southland in various capacities, helping put out signage and acting as Camp Mum, masseuse and motorbike official.
This year, the organiser, Bruce Ross, offered Craik the chance to sponsor and manage a team.
“I sent my logo with trepidation, as it features a pink-coloured girl with a pigtail, swimming, biking and running,” she said.
“I asked Bruce if he thought the boys would be embarrassed with that sort of logo. He replied, ‘I don’t think the boys will mind having a woman on their back,'” she said.
“Sponsoring is one thing, organising six male cyclists with high expectations and all hyped up for the hardest tour in New Zealand was quite another. Bruce offered the assistance of accomplished cyclist, Mark Prutton. We were all systems go.”
Craik’s team consisted of four junior cyclists and two master cyclists. Eighteen-year-old Ben Johnstone was the youngest cyclist at the tour, along with Mitch Podmore, Ben Wortelboer, Daniel Allison, and masters Daniel Carruthers and Glenn Gould made up the team. Three of these cyclists had already completed the tour previously but three were about to get christened.
We struck our first hurdle. Camp Mum hadn’t read the cycling kit order form properly, so we were six pairs of bike shorts down.
We could have been the first team ever to ride half-naked, but luckily I had purchased some extras for the North Otago/Waimate group I ride with, so there was enough to go around.
Kit organised, and with six embarrassed boys wearing shocking pink for six days, we made our way to Queens Park for the 4km prologue.
It was beautiful weather, around 22 degrees until one hour before the start, then the temperature slumped to 10 degrees with a southerly change, and the rain started pouring down.
‘Unpredictable’ is an understatement for the Tour of Southland.
After the prologue, the team were placed 13th out of 18 teams. We were mid-range, so that meant our van was mid-way in the convoy. This was good, because then Mark and I were going to be able to see some action in front of us.
Here’s an explanation of how the convoy works: the convoy is made up of at least two Rolling Roadblock vehicles, which go ahead and stop all cars coming towards the cyclists.Then there are numerous motorbike commissaries that stop cars coming in at intersections and escort the general public traffic from behind the convoy past all the vehicles and riders in the right-hand lane.
There are also three commissary vehicles at the front, middle and back of the convoy. These are the cars that tell you what you can and can’t do. You have to listen to them on the radios provided and a van for each team.
Each vehicle has a number on the back and the vehicles have to keep in numeric order. There are also numerous media motorbikes all over the show, trying to get the best angles for photos, television and Sky footage. All up, around 30 vehicles are involved.
That night we had our first internal team prize-giving. Mark had organised pink chocolate bars for the first rider in our team across the line in each stage and a pink feather scarf for the cyclist last across the line in each stage.
The pink feather scarf had to be worn to the beginning of the next stage, in front of everyone. The boys’ looks said it all – they would rather die than be seen in a pink feather scarf – Mark was using his motivational skills.
PHOTO: SUPPLIED – Adair Craik.