The biannual Tour Aotearoa is a mountain-bike ‘brevet’ (a timed, long-distance cycling event) covering the length of mainland New Zealand. It starts at the most northern point of the North Island, Cape Reinga, and finishes at Stirling Point, just south of Bluff at the bottom of the South Island. The Tour requires participants to follow a set route covering 3,000 km. It consists of existing mountain bike trails scattered throughout the country and connected by back country roads. The Tour is unsupported, so participants carry their own gear. To be awarded the brevet, the riders need to cover the full distance within 30 days.
John took part in the 2018 edition of the Tour. He encountered all types of challenges, from getting lost to physical ailments, serious weather events and loneliness. In between he had plenty of time to contemplate and let his thoughts and imagination run free. It helped him pass the time. He was seen late at night, furiously hammering away on his laptop, regardless of how tired he was, reliving the events and contemplations of the day. It helped him make sense of his journey and how it fitted into the complex world we live in. He called it his ‘administration’.
“He takes on the Tour just like the rest of us, with trepidation, and suffers similar challenges, including getting lost (often), huffing painkillers (also often), and taking the asphalt “chicken route” instead of braving the alarming drop-offs on the Kaiwhakauka Track… There’s plenty here to enjoy for anyone planning to ride the Tour, or not planning to ride it, but wanting to experience it from the comfort of an armchair at home.” — 1964 magazine