Team Ākina Bike Tour – Day 4: Pleasure, compromised

Business journalist and ex-director, Rod Oram, is heading up Team Ākina as part of the 2017 Tour of New Zealand Bike Race. For 8 days, riders cycle the length of either the North or South Island, covering around 100km per stage and meeting in Wellington for the finish. Check back every day to read about the day’s adventure, as Rod guest blogs on behalf of Team Ākina.

Day 4, Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Rode again. Got wet and cold – again.

But wait there’s more!

Rain to we cyclists is rather like snow to Eskimos. It so dominates some of our activity we can go on and on about it. Don’t worry, ‘tho, we promise to keep this blog fairly brief.

In good weather, today’s stage is a glorious route. From the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo, over the short and gentle Burkes Pass, down into Fairlie, and on down the wonderfully rolling road to the finish in Geraldine. The 88km through delightful country sheds 500m of altitude, but ups with the downs mean you still climb nearly 700m over many short hills.

But today’s forecast was for a temperature of about 6c and rain. So, the first line of defence on such a day is a particularly good breakfast. We enjoyed ours today from our rented apartment in Tekapo overlooking the lake.



The second line of defence is the likes of allegedly waterproof shoe covers, jackets and gloves. They don’t keep you dry – that’s impossible on a bike – but they do delay you getting sodden.

The third line, and by far the most important, is to keep warm when wet. That can be hard, particularly when you’re tired and can’t work hard enough to get hot enough.

Fortunately, we had a little sun not rain at the start. But we could see heavy rain clouds sitting over Burkes Pass. Last minute fuel top ups on the start line seemed a good idea, as Myles demonstrates.

This was Amanda’s big day – she was riding with Team Ākina, our fast crew of Nick, Graeme and Myles. If the pace was a bit too hot, her plan B was to ease up and wait for her Team Ākina Too mates – Katie, Rodger and Rod to catch her up.

Well, she shot away from the start with a fast bunch and hung on with grim determination for the first 10km, taking her turns at the front at speeds up to 45 kph. At the first very steep descent, she wisely hung back while the rest did their kamikaze plunge down the hill. She then rode on her own for some 20km before picking up another bunch.

Towards the end of the ride, when she wasn’t sure she could hang on up the last big hill, Julian Dean came up behind her, placed a hand on her back and gently gave her that little bit extra momentum to keep her up with the pace. A seriously illegal maneuver in pro racing, it is a wonderfully kind act in races like ours.

So, Amanda beat our fast guys home in well under three hours…with Team Ākina Too crossing the line 45 minutes or so after them.  

Wet? Yes. Cold? Nah, not as bad as yesterday. Happy? Heck, yes! We were on our bikes!

Which leads to another mystery about cycling. When someone in a bunch gets a puncture, it is amazing how many people stop to help fix it…which usually results in discussions about arcane theories of how punctures happen and the best ways of preventing, or even, fixing them. Inevitably a job of a few minutes goes on a while.

Today we cyclists got to practice on a really fat wheel. All of a sudden outside Methven, our 12-seater minibus developed a flat rear tyre. A sharp stoned had amazingly buried itself in the tread. It took most of our team to swap it for the spare and get the show back on the road.

We ended the day on a high, hearing at the peloton party that the 58 riders in the Tour’s North and South Island races raising money for Bikes in Schools, including the two Ākina teams, had so far banked $10,300.

This is a good start. But in the previous Tour we raised $40,000 with fewer riders. So, if you haven’t already, please donate to this excellent programme to equip schools with bikes, riding facilities and coaching for kids who otherwise wouldn’t know the great joys of cycling…or fixing punctures.

You can read more about Bikes in Schools here.

 And donate to our team here.

A big thank you from all of us at Team Ākina!

Rod Oram Rod Oram
Rod Oram is a New Zealand journalist writing on corporate, economic and political issues. He is a columnist for The Sunday Star-Times, a regular broadcaster on radio and television and a frequent public speaker.

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