Gordon Sloane is expecting to see some amazing scenery, meet new friends and experience pain and suffering, when he rides in the 3000km Tour Aotearoa cycle ride from Cape Reinga to Bluff starting on Sunday.
But what the popular Nelson multisport athlete really hopes to achieve during the epic off-road tour is to raise as much money as possible for the Nelson Tasman Hospice. Gordon is one of the many riders on the tour who is supporting a charity and he is asking people to make a donation to the hospice if he can complete the ride in under 30 days.
“When I thought about doing it as a charity ride, the first organisation that came to mind was the hospice,” Gordon says. “I don’t have any links or ties with it – it’s just that they do such a great job for the community.”
Gordon is confident he will be able to complete the self-supported journey in less than 30 days although he knows there will be plenty of challenges along the way. The 3000km route will traverse some of the country’s remotest roads and tracks as well as many of the new cycle ways, including the Tasman Great Taste Trail.
“I’ve been training for about three-months and done some really long rides to get up to speed. I’ve ridden from Nelson to Christchurch through the Rainbow a couple times and did a big ride on the West Coast Cycle Trail with Mike Brien.
“I think I’m fit enough but it’s going to need more than just fitness. I’m going to have to eat and drink well and make sure I look after my body as well.
“There’s also things like the weather to contend with. When I did one of my training rides through the Rainbow, it was so windy I had to walk my bikes across the bridges because I was worried about getting blown into the river.
“But that didn’t help because it was so windy it blew my bike off the ground. I had to lie across it to hold it down – it was incredible.”
Gordon has set-up a new titanium-framed bike especially for the tour and it includes extra water bottle holders, aerobars and bags that fit neatly into the bike’s frame to make it more aerodynamic. The whole set-up, including a tent, sleeping bag and spare clothes, weighs 25kg.
“I’ve got a lightweight tent but I will try to avoid camping when I can because it’s so slow. I’ll be staying in motels and bed and breakfast places whenever I can – it will be nice to get a shower after a long day in the saddle too.”
Gordon says all riders must carry a spot tracker and their progress can be followed on a web-site touraotearoa.nz. Riders also have to take a selfie with their bikes at 30 specified locations and send it to the race organisers to “prove they were there”.
Gordon starts in the first of three waves of 100 riders at Cape Reinga on Sunday. The second wave leaves on February 23 and the third on February 26 to avoid congestion at the Hokianga Harbour ferry crossing, which is one of five boat rides included in the tour.
If anyone wants to donate to Gordon’s hospice ride email [email protected] for details of a bank account. Gordon is covering all of his own expenses for the tour and all donations will be paid to the hospice.
Another Nelson cyclist Jill Clendon is also fundraising during the ride, nominating Achilles International NZ as her charity.