My biggest concern going in was my ability to back up long rides day after day, I knew I could do one off long rides, but this was a step into the unknown. I had set myself a goal of 7 days to give myself some leeway if disaster struck, if I finished under that, fantastic. In the end I finished in around 6 and a half days, having lost about 5 hours due to stopping in Reefton and a wrong turn after crossing the Grey River, but without doing the north side of the Wairau . Over all I am pleased with the result. I elected not to do the optional bits, Castle hill because the weather was crap, St James because of time and weather concerns, north bank because I wanted to get this thing finished tonight. I could have done it faster, but that would have involved more riding in the dark which may have caused other problems. I was pleasantly surprised by my last day, which probably came about because I knew I didn't have to leave anything in the tank.
The spot trackers are fantastic, easing the anxieties of your nearest and dearest and allowing a vicarious experience for those watching, it was quite cool to read facebook messages, twitter feeds and the like at the end of each day.
I used my 06 Giant XTC, the frame was given to me a few years ago by Jaredtheamazing before he departed for Canada, the only other item of the same age are the Revelation forks that originally came with my Reign and are now on their fourth frame. Given the relative lack of genuine mountain biking the route is possibly more suited to a cross bike and skinnier tyres. I had replaced drive train, bottom bracket and brake pads in the weeks before.
The bike caused me no real problems aside from the deraileur cable I had to replace at Sheffield, I did develop a creaking from the Headset area that I hoped was the headset and not frame or forks
I get on reasonably well with myself so aside from the ups and downs you would expect I had no real dramas, the only dark moments were heading up the Arnopld Valley after missing the turn off and Porters Pass. It was disconcerting at time hearing other riders talking to themselves.
Also held up reasonably well. I was popping a voltaren in the morning the to deal with the general aches, pains and sensations in my hands that felt like electric shocks when I shifted them on the hanldlebars. The legs were OK aside from the muscle soreness that you would expect, most annoying was the ache in my shoulders that would come towards the end of the day, I had upped the voltaren dose to a second one after lunch for the last 2 days. The bum held up well nursed along by Sweet Cheeks Butt Butter, the chaffing I got on day one didn't get any better but nor did it get any worse. Luckily I didn't have any of the achilles or knee problems that seem to affect many others. My little toes on each foot are still numb.
Food & Drink
I felt a bit like a vacuum cleaner in the end, devouring anything edible within reach, even with this philosophy I still lost about 3kg over the week. My preference was for proper food, and I tried to get in at least one proper cooked meal a day. At the end performance seemed to relate directly what was consumed so I suspect any energy reserves were used up in the first few days. OSMs & creamed rice = yuck. I usually carried a least a bottle of powerade or gatorade on the bike and a couple of litres of water in the camelbak. I could have probably done without the extra water in the camelbak as it wasn't to difficult to get refills.
Used a freeload rack on the back with a dry bag and a dry bag strapped under areo bars on the front, I had absolutely no problems with either aside from losing a jandal in Big River, later returned to me by Paul. I elected to take camping gear, bivvy gag, 3/4 mat and sleeping bag as I wanted to be able to camp if required and didn't want the pressure of being locked into having to be at certain place at a certain time. I slept outside for 3 nights and was reasonably comfortable. I was conservative with the rest of my gear and probably wound up carrying extra clothing and too much food.
The heat on the ride from Wakefield to St Atrnaud
Heat and wind between Maruia nad Springs Junction.
The ride out of Lees valley.
Wind and rain through Porters Pass.
Missing the turn to Arnold Valley Rd.
Forgetting my sunglasses.
Losing cue sheets in the Wharfedale.
The Rainbow Valley.
Matakitaki valley and Maruia Saddle.
Hospitality at Blackball and Sheffield.
Sheffield Pie Shop
Being let into the pavilion at Culverden.
The company of those I spent time with over the week.
Would I do this sort of thing again?
Probably, but not too soon, In terms of endurance this is the biggest thing I have ever done. It's also quite selfish in terms of the demands it puts on the family. Overall the experience has been very positive, I thought it may give me the chance to re-evaluate a few things, but in the end my thinking revolved around the basics, ride, eat, sleep, drink, poo.
Again, thanks all for watching, reading and your support.