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Commute Up North

21 February 2023

Words & Photos: Sam Shaw

02/02/2023: Commute

Up at six, into the coffee supply, a hug and kiss to Polly, and a bye. On the bike headed over the Crown Range to old mates John and Lizzie's place in Arrowtown to drop the bike and get a lift to the airport. Landed in Wellington, luckily didn’t get my crankset confiscated in my carry-on by security... ok I see how a crank and chain ring can be dangerous.

Nikki picked me up in Wellington and we headed over to Carterton to collect some dawgs. Then back to Lower Hutt and onto Bubbles' loaner road bike for a cheeky 70 km ride... with Bubbles. Headed out for a yum dinner at a nice spot (thanks Dee Bubs!). Home to sleep.


03/02/2023 & 04/02/2023: Wellies & Stag Do

Up at six and into a coupla coffees from Bubbles' machine, then on the bike and off for a group ride around Wellies and Lower Hutt. Great to join in on a pretty fun scene (roadies and coffees and scones), then off to join in with friends Bob and Alice who were bikepacking from Upper Hutt into Wellington for a wedding. Finished that with a beer in Wellington and then headed home briefly before biking back into town to meet up with my good mate Johnson and his stag do crew for the rest of the night.


05/02/2023: Wellies to Smellies (Rotorua) Begins

Twelve am and we are still going at Johnsy's stag do in Wellies town. Luckily Nikki (Bubbles' daughter) picked me up at 1 am to get home for some rest. Back up at seven thirty for a couple of coffees and to say bye to Nikki and Dee and head off with Bubbles by bike, towards Masterton. Bubbles turned around at the top of the Remutakas and I headed down the other side to see Hamish and Rachel and George (baby) in Greytown. After ice cream and beer with a side of yarns I was back on the bike to get to the local pub/inn at Eketāhuna for the night (luxury for a fifty).


06/02/2023: Eketāhuna to Tūrangi

Up at four to watch the cycloss world champs, then looked outside to see pretty gusty winds. Raided the weet-bix and tea section at the pub and jumped on the bike, off into the wind and rain. Two hours later I was in Woodville for morning coffee and pies, mmm. Some classic yarns with the locals (mind blown I was about to bike 200-300 m vert over the hill to Ashhurst).

Back on the bike into the raging northerly (headwind) and rain, through a pretty scenic Pohangina Valley. Next stop was Taihape and the sun seemed to just pop out... hola. Coffee and lunch stop inserted here. Somehow feeling fresh as I carried on to Tūrangi via the Desert Road and strengthening northerly (road bike and lycra easily my best mates today). Winds getting outrageous by the top of the desert, and then kinda dying out right when I headed down into Tūrangi for schnacks. A night at the backpackers, fish & chips with the locals and great live music to finish.


07/02/2023: Tūrangi to Rotorua to Crits

Up at six and around the corner from the backpackers to the pie shop for a steak & mushroom and mocha haha - what a throwback. Then on the bike and back to hometown Rotorua via beautiful sunrise and a welcome southerly (tailwind). Straight into Wildlands to see Mum and Dad, then Bike Culture to see Rob and Mike and back home to Te Puea Road. Beelined it for the bath haha. Cracked into the pantry (of course) then back on the bike and off to Rotorua's weekly criterium race across from the airport. Good catchups and a quick 20 mins in the legs. Off back home to catch up with the whānau and get a gooood sleeep.


08/02/2023: Te Home Tour

Up at six and on the bike to Whakarewarewa for a run, then caught up with Charlie for a lap around Rotorua's good roads with a pretty gusty wind. Then out on the boat to the Rotoiti hotpools, how good.

09/02/2023: Bryce Road Locals

Up at six and into coffee, then into town to catch up with Charlie and Dave, and pick up Polly's new bike (second hand new). On the bike to give the infamous Ngongotāha bottom to top time a go! I hoffed it up at 20 kmh and still didn't manage to beat George Bennett's time of 17 min 12 secs, with my time of 17 min and 25 secs... wahhhh.

Off home to get a bath and cold shower going. Then back on the bike for a hundy km ride with Charlie, James and Paul to Rotorua's local Thursday night Bryce Road racing, which was unfortunately cancelled. Luckily we were all there so just did the race course and a five minute bunch race at the end. Off back home with one of the nicer sunsets.


10/02/2023: Pre-pre Race

Up at four haha, got a lot of emails done. On the bike to go see Mt Tarawera - ah beautiful. Then into the local redwoods for a jog up my goto (Quarry Trail loop). Straight from there to physio Alex for some taping and advice on my reconstructed shoulder. Bike Culture to see the bois, then over to Will, Emma and Jame’s whare, then home to have a bath and chill for the rest of the day.


11/02/2023: Pre Race

Up at six and into coffee and yoga, on the bike down to Okere Falls, a great ride, close to home. Then into town to watch my mate Will at the Tarawera Ultra (he was in the 100km) and all the other people (stoked to see Dan Jones win, gaining entry into more world tour events). Off home to chill on the couch (admittedly pretty hard to do for a whole few hours), along with finishing off the report for the annual Nelson Bird Survey. Bike prep, dinner and bed.

12/02/2023: Te Race Day (Elite Road Natties 2023)

Up at four and lay about until five thirty, then up for coffee and snackies. Heaved all the bike gear and Mumsie into the truck and headed to Tokoroa for some racing (forecast = cyclone Gabs, actual weather = very windy with occasional rain). Turned up and said hi to heaps of people. George Bennett was surprised I nearly got him on a Strava KOM mwaha, but no cigar (for me). A sip of the red doctor (cola) and we started racing. I tried to go after any breaks that looked promising on the first lap, but all the people I was watchin' didn’t leave the main peloton, so I stayed in. There were a few (hundreds... maybe thousands) surges over the next three laps while I waited. Unfortunately picked up a puncture and had to DNF myself out of the race, bugger. 

Mumsie and I stayed to watch, which was just as good (James Oram with a strong seated winning sprint, what a guy). Then home to Rotorua via the blueberry orchard and glass house flower shop.

Pack pack pack, organised chaos ahead of flight home thew next day.


13/02/2023: Mā te wā

Up at six, coffee. Hung out with the parents for breakie before gearing up, saying ngā mihi, and heading out into cyclone Gabs on the bike for another attempt at Ngongotāha’s KOM (strava stuff, yick). Beaten and blown I cruised home in the rain and wind and jumped into the bath. Then chucked everything into boxes, taped them up, into the car, and off to the airport to jet home. Only just, with a bit of a roller coaster ride out of Rotos. Polly picked me up and we headed back over the hill to Wānaka for a wee bike ride and picnic by the lake.


With thanks to:
  • John - for the airport drop.
  • Nikki - for the airport pickup.
  • Bubbles/Dee - for a very nice road bike lend, Koru Lounge access, a place to stay in Wellies... and so much more.
  • Paul Bishop - for the skinsuit and feeding me.
  • Mark Leishman - for managering.
  • Mum & Dad - for heaps.
  • Polly - for being super cute.