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Te 'Long Black' Cloud Tour

27 July 2021

Words & Photos: Sam Shaw
Video: Matthew Hunt

Was stoked to find the time last month to make my annual pedal-powered pilgrimage to Christchurch for a Ground Effect coffee or five, plus get a few bonus rounds with the bike along the way.

Day dot tahi: Saturday 12/06/2021

Up and straight into some bike gear and off up the hill for the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club's Triple Crown Enduro. We had briefing yarns and then launched into the event, a mass bunch ride on three awesome tracks in Whakarewarewa. Managed to sneak in a cheeky flip on one of the stages and come away with a second place on the day - and the big ol' Spirit of Enduro trophy. The funnest day I have had racing my bike :) 

Home to pack a bit of gear up into little bags and out to the parents for a shnack then off to Euan and Ionas for Crash Team Racing then home to watch the Downhill World Cup with Scott and into bed by 1am.

Sunday 13/06/2021

Up at 4am to watch the rest of the Downhill World Cup, cook up a massiff Harraways pancake and brew up a stovetop Kokako coffee (both my last for a while). Food and coffee down the hatch, Downhill in the eyeballs, I loaded my gear onto ‘Grave’ the gravel bike, cycled out the door at 6am and headed to Taranaki.

It was a foggy slow start with a few too many Double Browns (foggier) and a bit too much on my back (my backpack was over 10kg). After drinking a few things and eating a massive amount of pre prepared food I was in Piopio for a coffee stop, and at the half way point. I jumped back on and boosted to make sure I didn’t arrive too late, managing to get over Mt Messenger and through the gorge before dark, but the weather decided to make things a little uncomfortable with heavy rain for the final three hours and some pretty annoying cross winds. Before I knew it I was at New World in New Plymouth, an hour after dark and straight into some chocolate and catchups with Helen and Dallas and then off to my (sister) Annabel and Tom's house to catch up with them along with (niece & nephew) Maeve and Oscar.

Monday 14/06/2021

Up early-as for yarns and coffee with Tom and Oscar and to watch the cross country world cup. Then off for coffee with Shayne, then Annabel. Then home to check out why my butt cheek was so sore. It turns out I had carried too much stuff on my back and that resulted in a pretty bad saddle sore. Squeezed out the infection and applied some ointment... good as gold. Got in a ‘cheeky’ swim.


Tuesday 15/06/2021

Chill day in Oakura - coffee with Annabel and Oscar then on the bikes with Sarah and Oscar.

Wednesday 16/06/2021

Up at a reasonable hour to snack, pack and yack. Said adios and headed out the door for Whanganui, this time I packed super light and had a much better time. Also managed to time the trip to score the sunshine between all-day showers. Stopped in on Hawera and Patea along the way. Arrived in Whanganui and straight to Braemar House backpackers to rest the pins.

Thursday 17/06/2021

Up early to visit ‘The Village Snob’ for a coooofffffeeee and then off to the local bike store to tighten up a few bits on 'Grave'. Then hit the road to Paraparaumu. Stopped by Bulls for a few brews with Aiden and another stop in Foxton for a fizz. Then straight-lined it to the final destination to catch up with Ellie (Chew), Ingrid, Brian, and Blue in Paraparaumu (once upon a time widely mispronounced Para pa ram).

Friday 18/06/2021

Up early as for coffee with Ellie and then off to 'work'. Caught up with good mate (and Ground Effect teammate) Jamie Nicoll for a cycle along Paraparmumu Beach and a yarn about what's new.

Saturday 19/06/2021

Into Akatarawas with Ellie for a look around the flagship red tape trail.

Sunday Cross Session 20/06/2021

Up for tea and pancakes/marmites on toast then off to Groundup Cafe for a beverage then on to Upper Hutt.

First cyclocross race on the cards, the weather played ball with rain coming in sideways and mud up to the cranks. Kim Hurst and the crew put on a hellishly good event that's aimed at involvement. I can recommend to just about anyone. We watched the B-grade event and then got in a wee warmup up before lining up for the A-grade. Rode a good race and had a good time doing it, will be back for more.

Got back into the van. Got dry and clean and warmed up with some homemade lamb soup (chuur Ingrid) and then home to chillll ooot.

Monday 21/06/2021

Biked in to Wellies via the cycleway and beach and over the hill for a coffee with Bubbles and Murphy the dawg at Prefab.

Tuesday 22/06/2021

Up for yarns, yacks, and shacks. Then said see ya later to the Chews and jumped the Ferry for Picton. Arrived nice and late and straight into some butter chicken and a backpackers for some sleeeep.

Wednesday 23/06/2021

Back on a (smaller) boat, headed out to Ship Wreck Cove to the start of the Queen Charlotte Track. Was an epic trip back too Picton with a bit of moisture. Knocked that one out in a sweet-as day.

Went and picked up some things I'd left outside the backpackers (with a note asking if the bag could be left alone) then left a bag there in the same place for Connor and Brad to pick up the next day (thanks Connor and Brad - saving that glute). Then biked off to Blenheim for the night in a fancy motel.

Thursday 24/06/2021

Biked to Kaikoura, one of my favourite parts of the trip. Cruised it and had a few coffees along the way and made town in time to check into Duskies Backpackers, take a swim and a spa. Always luxury to be had in Kaikoura. 11/10

Friday 25/06/2021

Anna and her sister picked me up from the local coffee shop and we headed back up the coast for the Middle Hill Mud Buster Enduro. Caught up with the camp crew consisting of Brad, Connor, Dan and Will. Cooked some spuds in the flames and got an early night after a big practice day in the bank.

Saturday Middle Hill Mud Buster Enduro 26/06/2021

Up for oats n coffees, rider briefing, and event start. Great everything, a ‘you should go do this’ kind of event.

Sharing second place with Craig Oliver. Photo: Dominic Blissett

Into bed at 12am after a big ol bonfire with P Digsss playing on the decks and a 3 x pulled pork bun sized dinner. I stayed up a little later to watch the live timing of Charles Murray riding his way into a 3rd place at the Canazei EWS.

Sunday 27/06/2021

Up at 6 to pack the tent and gear away, put the lights on the bike, and hit the road for Christchurch. Stopped in Kaikoura at the Beach House coffee shop for a mocha with Dan, then did some sightseeing all the way through to Cheviot for some religious yarns over a mocha. Not my strong point, but the coffee was mean! Had a few pit stops on the way - Dam, Craig, and Ben stopping by with Shacks and everyone else passing by on their way back to Christchurch after Middle Hilling. Stopped in Greta Valley for a fizzy after blowing to pieces in the head/cross wind (apparently 100km/hr, felt like it - but it can't have been that strong). Back on the road to reeeaaap the wind change benefits and ride a tailwind all the way into Christchurch. 230km on the spur, what a dream. 1500km all up and hungry for more coffee.

Monday 21/06/2021

Ate coffee all day.

Tuesday 29/06/2021

It started snowing everywhere, flew outta there.