Many moons ago, when giant lizards walked the land, I thought I would like to ride Tour Aotearoa.
We had done some long bike packing missions before, camping our way around the South Island, and another time in Hawaii (highly recommended, will repeat if we are ever allowed to go there again).
I got myself equipped with a bike I thought would be ideal, entered the first edition, and then reality stepped in and I couldn’t take the month off that would be required to complete it at the pace I intended to go.
Life has continued to stymie any further attempts to be away from the ranch for that long, and now I am not at all sure I even want to do it. But a shorter expedition is on the cards, so I have been faffing around with what I think will be the right bike for what I plan.
I wanted something simple, comfortable, and I am not really too fussed about how fast it goes.
The Surly Krampus I got for the first TA is still my choice. I have loved riding this beast on the trails for the last six years, but for long days and big hills it needed more places to put my hands and a lower set of ratios to crank those monstrous wheels and tyres around.
The conversion was fairly simple, I got everything required (Ritchey bars, Cane Creek levers, a Microshift shifter, Wolf Creek 30t chainring, 11-46 cassette), jimmied it all in place, then got the experts at the bike shop to make it work.
Took it for a couple of spins and really felt at home, but wondered if the novelty would wear off after 100kms. And also whether the drop bars would be a liability on singletrack, or negotiating anything steep.
So bright and not that early, I set out to ride 100kms with as much variety of surfaces as I could manage. The ride ended up being 114kms, and took in every kind of terrain I am likely to strike on my planned camping route, and a bunch I sort of hope I don’t.
Obviously, the next question is what adding another 12kgs of gear to the equation will do to the performance of the bike, but the big test ride went very well. On a camping trip I probably would try to go even slower than the very gentle pace I managed, and that way the last 15 kms might not be so desperate.
Stay tuned, this autumn we go bush.