Team Ākina Bike Tour – Day 8: Dream Finish

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 8, Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Myles gave us a dream finish to the 2017 Tour of New Zealand. He beat out some of the fastest riders in the Tour to win our criterium race in front of Parliament this morning.

Looking later at the GoPro video he shot from his bike, we could see his tactics, speed and bike handling on the tricky little 600m course were exceptional.

Over the first three laps of the four-lap race, he let a KMPG rider, then Paul Odlin, a retired pro, set the pace. Then he pounced at the bell, shooting ahead to control the road down through sweeping, cobbled corners to a sharp left turn.

From there, he gave his all up Molesworth Street, hanging on to his lead through the left turn into the grounds of Parliament and down the finishing straight. The rest of us on Team Ākina came in at our own pace up to a lap behind him.

Here’s Myles, once he’d caught his breath:

And here we are on the steps of Parliament after our race, left to right: Andy, Katie, Myles, Roger, Rod, Amanda, Graeme and Paul McArdle, founder of Bikes in Schools, the organisation we’re fund raising for…and Jack, our team mascot for the day, and son of Lou Aitken of Ākina Foundation. Our only regret was that Nick was already home in Auckland nursing a bruised body, and mulling bike repairs after his spill yesterday.

Here’s a photo of us at the start of our race…’tho if you look closely, you might notice we’re down a rider. Where’s Rod?

 

Andy’s video shows Rod slipping into the race from left field at the end of the first lap, trying to look nonchalant while struggling to clip into his pedals. His excuse – he’d mistimed a trip just up the road to the Cathedral. He was seeking the nearest toilet, he says, not divine intervention.

Before and our after our race we lolled around the start/finish line in front of Parliament enjoying the morning’s racing and the company. One of many highlights was a two-man race – Julian Dean vs. Paul Odlin.

The two old pros played cat and mouse with each other on the first and much of the second lap, then sprinted explosively to the line. Julian edged out Paul, but you could see Julian, who was one of the best lead-out men in the world until he retired four years ago, had plenty left in the tank.

Once the racing finished about 11am, we cycled back to our hotel, stopping along the way at a cafe overlooking the waterfront rowing centre. It was the slowest riding, in the warmest temperature and the least wind, we’d done all week.

There was one last Tour event to enjoy – the prize-giving. With so many people to thank, prizes to give, stories to tell, and items to auction this lasted almost two and a half hours during the afternoon. Throughout there was a great buzz among riders and friends about the Tour past…and the next to come in 2019.

Team Ākina were delighted Paul and Lou could join us for the ceremony. Once fund raising closes in two weeks’ time, we’ll let you know how much we’ve raised for Bikes in Schools.

If you haven’t contributed yet to this excellent programme that equips schools to teach kids how to ride – or you want to give some more! – please do so soon at nz2050.com/Team-Akina

Lastly, a big thank you from us all on Team Ākina: to Andy for looking after us very well on the road, and to our families, friends, colleagues and supporters for giving us the chance to have our great adventure.

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.

Follow Rod on Twitter