Final update - grab a coffee it's more a novel than a summary
Sunday 21st Mar
Thank you to everyone for all your messages of support and congratulations on Facebook and Strava, as well as the massive sponsorship which the team are truly thankful for 💕
Yesterday was absolutely the maddest thing I've ever done, and I'm quite amazed that both physically and mentally I held up really well. Had been watching a lot of YouTube videos from ultra endurance athletes and the common thread was "you will suffer", but more importantly telling you to stay in the moment and you'll have good times, also some not so good times, but they will improve again. Trying to not think about the end target (which I understood as at times 300kms seemed like a very long way away). So I was thrilled to come through the entire ride with a small amount of body fatigue and tired from lack of sleep.
Adrian, Glynis, Penny, Rob and myself set off from Paraparaumu station on the Northern Explorer Friday morning - that was a terrific journey in itself as was a very comfortable train, stunning and changing landscape. Disembarked at National Park station and was transferred with bikes to the hotel in the Whakapapa Village. Reattached our pedals and readjusted the handle bars (due to train baggage requirements) and then sorted all our kit for the morning ensuring everything would be easily accessible throughout the day. Garry our awesome support driver arrived shortly after us and Rob discovered he had a delaminated tyre (more about that later) when checking his bike out. Paul (our 6th) team member joined us around dinner time and we had an early meal and headed off to our respective rooms for sleep and rest.
Struggled to sleep from about midnight having had random dreams, so at about 2:30am gave up and stayed awake (the alarm was set for 4am). Coffees with the date and walnut cake for breakfast lol, the one thing we did know was today would be all about calories - getting as many carbs and fuel we could eat throughout the entire day! Dressed in as many thermals as possible it was a very fresh zero degrees outside 🥶. The team (minus Paul who set out earlier to get to the top of Mt Bruce first) all met at 5am and by 5:15am we were on our way, a quick stop for me to put my rear light on properly and start my Garmin bike computer as had forgotten. I had a lovely surprise from my cousin who arrived to cheer us on at the bottom of the mountain hill from Whakapapa - she would have had a very early start to get there for 5am, how special was that 💕
Riding in the pitch black on your bike is a massive sensory experience, when looking behind you it's completely dark - but it was a beautiful starry sky - the first 50kms was a huge downhill to Ohukune, but was amazing fun, however the speed contributed to the freezing cold, and my fingers (even with gloves) were stiff and I could barely feel them - given I needed them for gear changes I was trying to warm up one hand at a time under my armpits, sooo sooo bitterly cold. Stopped a couple of times on route to regroup (mostly around the uphill hilly bits) and you could hear the Ruru and trickling streams which was fabulous 😃 Paul caught us up which was fantastic going and he was with us heading into our first loo stop at Ohukune (I added another layer on too). As we were leaving, sunrise was nearly up and we could start seeing our landscape. Onwards to Waiouru for our first stop and a feed - hot dog and chips, plus a toasty hot chocolate 😋 Next cafe stop would be Hunterville (taking us half way).
Before Hunterville I had my first mechanical with a back tyre that split and I had a rush of air on my legs and sealant everywhere (including on Paul who was on my wheel), pulled up at Flat Hills and needed a complete brand new tyre replacement. Penny had to chase Rob down as he hadn't realised we had stopped. Coincidentally Steve had joined us at Flat Hills having caught the bus from Kapiti to join us for the ride home, you're a legend Steve! So we carried on but I heard a new noise from my back wheel, however I couldn't spot the problem so carried on.
We stopped at Hunterville and I had a change of clothes and finally found my donut that I'd been fixated on, followed by another hot chocolate and an egg and spinach sandwich. Checked my back wheel but still couldn't find where the noise was coming from. Leaving Hunterville we had a cheer squad from the side of the road and it was one of cycling buddies Anouk from Kapiti, she had been following our live map and pulled over to cheer us on! Eventually the noise got so bad I pulled over taking the wheel off. Discovered my brand new tyre had delaminated grrrrr (outer rubber separates from the inner carcass) - so needed a repair! I carried on though as couldn't do a lot at that point but was a bit nerve wracking to think it may have gone bang at any point 😳 Finally got to Bulls and grabbed my earlier spilt tyre - cleaning out all the sealant and put in an inner tube - didn't seem to be any bulge through the tyre so off we went! Next big stop Levin !
Had a very creepy bridge path to cross over the Manawatu River, was high and the cross wind was off-putting so just held onto the handlebars holding the core to keep control and balance but was relieved to get to the other side. At this point we deviated a bit to take quiet back country roads all the way to just north of Levin just before Waiterere Beach. We were getting a bit tired at this point given the strong winds, but with the help of Garry we all formed an echelon behind his vehicle and he gave is a tow for about 20kms, enough to recover a little bit before heading back to the busier roads.
We made it to the BP in Levin and said farewell to Paul, who is an exceptionally strong rider and sat in front a good part of the day, and he lives in Levin he had done his part to get home. It was after 7pm at this point so all our layers and lighting came out to get us home. At this point we knew it was going to be the most hazardous getting home. We took our time at the BP, I had a hot chocolate and filled up a bottle with coke - final sugar needed to get us home! Final push home was tough - roads were very busy and despite our visibility with our tail lights at times it was very unnerving. We took a little diversion to avoid one dangerous bridge by going under it, and did a cheer as we got to Otaki and familiar roads again 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Unfortunately Rob's and my front lights had started to diminish - so we positioned the group to make it safe for everyone for that last stretch. Made it to Peka Peka and turned onto the old State Highway which was a thrill and we all had enough energy to sprint home to Adrian and Glynis's where our car was parked, it's now 9:30pm 😳 Huge hugs and congratulations all around, packing up the car and loading the bikes up to head home for a cuddle with our four legged friends - unpacking can wait for the morning 😜
Of course the first thing we did was upload our Strava recording the whole ride, discovered we had been riding for 12 hours (which meant we had 4 hours in total for breaks), and my fastest speed was 73.1kms / hr 😜 Fun!!
All in all a fantastic achievement and a terrific bunch of people took share this experience with 👍