I just got back from a 350km cycle tour with my brother. We left Wellington on the ferry on Wednesday arvo, and rode helter skelter from Picton to Blenheim that evening. I was on my Giant CRX commuter bike, towing a Bob Yak trailer, with all our gear on it (sleeping bags, tools, lock, 3 spare bottles, jackets, dry clothes, all up about 20kg including trailer). Dave was on my Carbon Giant XTC with lock out on the Reba fork, and slick tyres on it. He's been in Europe for the last four years, and hasn't done much riding apart from a spot of commuting in Wellington, last 4 years ago. His training included a lap of Makara Peak, and a Wright's Hill, Long Gully, South Coast loop. We knocked out the 30-odd km to Blenheim in about 52 minutes! Hard to beat the enthusiasm of the beginning of a ride!
The next day we had a cooked breakfast in Blenheim, and then headed off up the Wairau Valley with the wind right up our jacksies. It couldn't have been more perfect. We started fairly quickly, but slowed progressively through the day as Dave tired, and the climbing kicked in. His previous longest ride was a 40km section of Taupo, so he did damn well to cover the 105km journey to St Arnaud! He even closed a property deal on the way...
The next morning started with a 5km climb back to the Tophouse turnoff. I'd promised him 85km of downhill to Nelson, but had got it pretty damn wrong. The day was hot, and there were a couple of decent climbs. Nonetheless, the XTC had a great range of gears for him, and he hung in there on the longest climb, making his big bro proud! I had a bit of a fright on a descent as the trailer started fishtailing when I tried to crouch down over the bars all aero-like...
We made a 15km detour to visit a friend just out of Richmond, so this day was 105km in total to back up from Dave's first ever ride over 40km the day before.
By this stage I was very nervous about the last day, which promised a few hills. I thought Dave was going to kill me when he saw the posted distance from Nelson back to Picton of about 140km - we were intending on taking the shorter route via Queen Charlotte Drive. Whangamoa Hill was a great climb. The 36-27 gear on the CRX was OK with the trailer load, but 36-25 would have been a damn hard workout. Most of the climb for me was done out of the saddle. Dave toiled away and we regrouped at the top, where I handed him another full bottle! The climb up the Rai Saddle was another bottle's worth, and we were both happy to reach Rai Valley. Our guts were both giving us a bit of trouble, and I struggled to get Dave to eat anything.
Leaving Rai Valley we had our only technical of the trip. I punctured my rear tyre on some glass. It was a pain in the arse of course because of the trailer, but soon we were underway again. A couple of kilometers later, the replacement tube failed at the valve, and I repaired the original tube and put that back in.
Soon after, we reached Havelock, then after a short climb, were cruising through Linkwater, past the Anakiwa turn off and onto semi-familiar territory. We stopped for dinner and a shower at a friend's place near the top of the climb, and had only a 15 minute ride back to Picton for the late ferry. We were told it took them 10 in a car!
It was fantastic to find Mum and Dad at the ferry terminal with two cars, so I didn't have to ride up to Karori with the gear at 1:30 in the morning!
So, three 100km days for my bro, with no training. I reckon if I trained him up he would put the fear of god into some of Wellington's roadies! He's nice and wide like me, and I was going through a fair few lead-out fantasies in my mind during our ride too!
We had great conversation, particularly on the Blenheim to St Arnaud day most of which we were side-by-side for. Most of the time I set the pace though, so he wouldn't cook himself before lunch. It seems he rides the same way I do, just with less miles in his legs...