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1,200 cyclists

March 31, 2020 April 2020 No Comments

You may have wondered at the huge number of cyclists passing through  during March. The answer is in this piece witten for the online news ‘Newsroom’ by Rod Oram who took part in the event. 

‘Three quintessentially Kiwi characteristics were particularly evident in the month long journey down through New Zealand: The first is simplicity, yet sophistication. An event involving 1,200 cyclists over many weeks is immensely complicated. But the organisers – Jonathan, Paul and Simon Kennett, long time bike advocates, route finders and publishers of cycling guides and books – have brought a simple sophistication to the enterprise through a clear division of labour. They are responsible for devising the route and managing the entries; while they leave each cyclist to organise themselves on the road.

The brothers put a huge effort into creating the best route and documenting it in detail in their Tour guide book. This includes useful information on campsites, shops and other amenities along the way. They also produce route files for cycle computers, and give frequent updates on the Tour’s Facebook page as road conditions or other factors change.

They don’t charge an entry fee. They ask only for proof of a rider’s small donation to a cycling organisation, such as a cycling club that helps build and maintain local tracks; and they ask riders to offset the carbon emissions they generate from their travel to the start and from the finish. For that, they offer sample calculations for people in New Zealand and those coming from abroad, and suggest they use the offsetting services of EKOS, a highly respected Wellington company.

They have also kept the rules of the Tour very simple. You must ride the 3,000km in no less than 10 days and no more than 30. Yes, there really are some people riding 300km a day. Hence, the second rule is you must not ride more than 18 hours a day.

For a modest sum you can rent a GPS tracker / personal emergency locator beacon from MAProgress. It is a small NZ company that has grown with the Tour and now offers its services to many similar events overseas. For all the sophistication of the technology, it’s reliable – yes, rescue helicopters have come quickly to the aid of a few seriously injured riders – and also rewarding for family and friends to track riders via MAProgress’ website.

As for your responsibilities as riders, it’s quite complicated getting just yourself down the country. In the months before the start, there are lots of decisions to make about bike, camping and other equipment; about training; and about logistics. On the road, we have to make many more decisions each day to ensure we cope with the changing state of our bodies and our bikes, the road and the weather.

This brings in the second Kiwi characteristic, creative co-operation. It seems every rider is keen to share their knowledge and to learn from others. The Tour is a very effective grapevine for passing on, either in person or via social media, up to the minute news and tips on, for example, track conditions and good places to stay.

Time and again on the road over the past two weeks I’ve seen people going out of their way to help others. Indeed, I’ve been the beneficiary with, for example, help fixing two problematic punctures.

Importantly, local riders are also being very hospitable and inclusive to overseas riders. No doubt they will return home full of stories about how welcoming Kiwis are. That’s the best advertising our tourism industry could ever have’.

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