Organiser Rob Ryan and SPCA marketing manager Marty O’Fee both riding on this charity tour can be proud of the team of 20 local Bike Manawatu riders and their amazing support person when they banded together last week to tackle the 640k SPCA ride from Palmy to Akaroa and return home safely after five hard days having raised over $8000 for the SPCA.
The group trained hard over the summer and were farewelled by supporters on the 15th of March from the Bike Barn in two groups of 10 for safety reasons on the anticipated first leg of the journey in overcast windy weather soon after to turn to rain.Oh Joy.
On arrival in Wellington and after a pre arranged shower at the Wellington Intercontinental the group enjoyed a dinner out and a few shandies before boarding the BlueBridge Ferry to Picton that night departing at 2am.
A rough Cook Straight crossing meant little sleep before arriving and disembarking from the Ferry at 6am together with the many Long Haul Trucks and Campervans.It was dark, cold and raining and the riders could barely see five metres in front of them as we rode alongside a busy procession of vehicles over a big climb 30km to Blenheim for breakfast.
Even though we were sleep deprived our leader Rob rallied us to mount our bikes again and carry on with the long day ahead to the beautiful coastal tourist spot of Kaikoura.
Riding into a head wind when it is raining and you are cold and wet is fun for a while but our planned stop for lunch at Kaikaranga 65km up the road was a relief. Later Garry Buys made the comment that if we had carried on for another 30 minutes we would have all got hypothermic.
To warm up we all had to make a full change of clothing and then headed into this amazing seaside cafe/restaurant to dry out by a glorious fire place while eating the cafe out of upmarket Kiwi pies. Delicious but needed.
The ride to Kaikoura had little rain and our focus was negotiating the big climbs and traffic for a safe arrival.In Kaikoura the riders focus changed to washing our gear and surprisingly our bikes. A well earned shower, a good feed, a few more shandies and a good nights sleep were on the agenda and Kaikoura obliged.
Some of the team welcomed St Patrick’s day in because that’s what you do on tour they were told.
The next 200km leg of the journey to Christchurch was a reminder of how beautiful NZ is with plenty of scenic coastline, seals and waterside activities to take in.
Some big climbs had us working hard and with the thought of a day’s rest the next day in Christchurch before Le Race, the groups hit the flats with some spirited riding that got us to Cheviot at a good click.
More refuelling at a friendly cafe and on the bikes again and it was time to meet TV One Sports News reporter George Berry in Amberley two hours up the road.We we asked by the film crew to carried out some SPCA money collecting in Amberley.To be show ponies for the TV cameras seem to fit this shy group of middle age Manawatu cyclists who rode faster and faster out of Amberley as the camera rolled on the road to Christchurch.
Rolling into Christchurch and our Motel was a big achievement and high fives across the group made it more special as we were getting to know each other better with every kilometre we had ridden and every shandy we consumed.
The next day registering for the Famous 100km Le Race was a great experience. All bikes had to be checked and approved by ChainReaction bike mechanics for safety reason. A practice that should be followed nationally for all race events.
After our days rest and night out, our tired legs and bodies got to the Le Race start line in the Christchurch square with 800 other enthusiastic riders at 7.30am for an 8am start.
The weather was expected to be 28 degrees and the race endured 2683m of climbing to Akarao.At the top of the biggest hills wind gusts welcomed all riders some of whom were blown off their bikes. Traffic management and the ambulance had a busy time sadly.
We can all remember negotiating the last steep and dangerous downhill into Akaroa
at ridiculous speeds to cross the finish line to the cheers of our colleagues waiting to see us all home safely.
This was a great SPCA Charity ride to be a part of and a wonderful experience for us all.The SPCA group of riders want to sincerely thank all of those generous sponsors and donators,our families and supporters and the event organisers for making the ride possible.We also want to pay a special mention to the many friendly cafe and restaurant hospitality staff we met on the way in the South Island who were amazing towards us.And finally a big Thank you to team Leader Rob Ryan for a well organised tour and getting us home safely and to Rob our support vehicle man who was simply amazing for 100% of the tour.
John van Lienen
Bike Manawatu Board