Guest blog by Alan Palmer - Pushbikes Ambassador
Maybe I had a sudden rush of blood to the head or it was just the excitement of the new Giant TCR (totally compact rocket). Anyway, I decided to bike from Christchurch to Hokitika in one day. What could go wrong?
I have completed shorter endurance rides up to 180km but this was 244km plus 2600m of elevation.
Saturday 3 am the alarm went off and I hit the road at 4 am. Conditions were perfect but cool at 3 degrees heading down the Old West Coast Road. Best of all, there was almost no traffic. This would change later in the day as holiday traffic and heavy vehicles took to the road.
I knew the ride would take around 14 hours based on recent times for longer rides. The weather forecast was for gusty NE winds and I figured these would not bother me too much as a side wind. I had plenty of food and water would be available along the route.
It was Moltke who said, “No plan survives contact with the enemy” and my plan soon started to come unravelled even before daybreak. At the last minute, I had thrown in another long sleeve winter top. As my body temperature dropped in the wind chill, I added every layer in my kit to keep the cold at bay.
Spring conditions in the Southern Alps are very changeable and I was lucky to get a fine day sandwiched between 2 rough weather patterns. But I was not so lucky with the winds. The winds changed to NW and I biked 80km from Springfield to Arthurs Pass in blustery headwinds.
The severe stomach cramps were unexpected and nearly forced me to pull out at Arthurs Pass. Rest, fluids and some Panadol worked their magic and I was soon able to continue with renewed energy to the highest point in the ride.
Endurance riding is like being in a slow movie with the landscape flashing by at a steady speed. Hour after hour the landscape presents new challenges and new sights and there are no unnecessary thoughts except about the road in front of you and what you need to eat and drink to keep moving.
The Giant TCR 2020 Advanced Pro 0 Disc is a new generation bike complete with electronic shifting and a power meter to measure the rider’s fitness and performance. Add your own sprint shift buttons and hill climb shift buttons; speed sensors etc. and you have loads of controls and feedback to inform your ride. It all sounds complex but it has been tested in pro-competition and is now mainstream kit for enthusiastic novices like myself. This bike is a pocket rocket and I was still comfortably pushing 30km/hr. over the final 20km (For stat geeks ride time was 14.48 and moving time was 11.36 hr.)
Long solo endurance rides require me to be self-supporting as there is plenty to go wrong when I am far from help. My best kit upgrades for the trip were the Madison high viz vest (essential in open road traffic), the Madison soft shell packable Jacket (light warm, wind/waterproof) and the BBB 10L saddlebag. I removed all other bags from the bike and packed everything into this bag. The removable liner made it easy to access food, equipment, tools etc. Thanks Keelan at Pushbikes for your expert advice on picking the right gear.