The Christmas Letter 2016

Once again, I try to look back on the year. 2016 has definitely been momentous in many ways and on the whole, another excellent year. I’m still loving life in Napier, my work is great overall, having my own house is fantastic and I’m riding bikes plenty (with twelve days to go, I’m rapidly closing in on 10,000 km for the year – easily my biggest year ever; half of that is commuting to work).

The year started off with a couple of overnight bikepacking trips as some form of light training. This one riding the gravel road from Wairoa past Lake Waikaremoana towards Rotorua.

I also persuaded Steve to join me on a great local ride to Everett’s Campsite for another overnighter. The hills back there are well worth seeing and riding.

That and commuting to work was basically my preparation for my Tour Aotearoa attempt. Mum & Dad came up to Napier and dropped me off at Cape Reinga – the goal being to ride 3000 km to Bluff self-supported on a new route that was a mixture of as many cycle trails and backroads as possible (two-hundred odd others were also doing this). It was a grand adventure and I was thrilled with all I saw, the experiences I had and how I rode – finishing two days sooner than I needed to, in sixteen days, overcoming some horrendous weather and slight illness to do so.

Crossing the Hokianga to Rawene – I was feeling far less than brilliant and rested/was sick for a couple of hours in the heat. I got better.

The Timber Trail in the Central North Island was a highlight, even in the early morning mist. I must return.

Much to my surprise, my favourite day was through northern Manawatu. So close to where I went to university – yet I’d never been there, the rural landscape was sensational. The hilly gravel roads were excellent too.

Another highlight was staying overnight in the remote old gold mining area of Big River; even better because best-sister Adele joined me for a couple of days.

The West Coast Wilderness Trail is also on the must-return-to list, as it’s supposed to be beautiful – but it sparked the start of about four-hundred kilometres of rain for me, so I didn’t see much.

After freezing riding up the Cardrona Valley, being blown by a storm to Mossburn and then battling the same storm (reduced to pushing my bike alongside a flat highway into 120 km/hr winds) I was well pleased and satisfied to finish in 16.1 days.

It took quite some time to recover from that; I kept riding to work, but I was eating five meals a day for weeks afterwards – on the ride, I lost about four kilograms that I didn’t really have spare!

My winter break was a week down in Central Otago for Adele & James’s wedding. A fantastic time of family, friends, celebration, beautiful scenery and good food. I loved it.

Perhaps my only bikepacking event for this season, was a very enjoyable four days on backroads around Rotorua. It was fascinating returning to an area near where I grew up and seeing it from the different perspectives that a bike and being older give.

Still recovering from 550 km of riding in four days, came the sudden (but ultimately unsurprising) news of the passing of my grandfather (the last of my grandparents to go). Thus set in motion a whirlwind November. One weekend I was in Sydney for the funeral (it went as well as could be expected), then back to work for a blur of a week, before being back in Australia the next weekend for a long planned trip seeing best-friends from Canada (who were back for a family wedding). A month after all that, it still looms large.

We stayed at Arapiles, where Adele joined me for the renowned rock-climbing (it was quite a family & friends month). I almost popped my other shoulder and swore off rock-climbing forever. I didn’t sleep much camping in the west-Victorian weather, but it was a great trip.

I did, of course, take a bike and managed a great day’s gravel riding in Grampians National Park.

Later this week I head south for two weeks with my family – I’m really looking forward to it. While generally quiet, which is how I tend to like it, 2016 has proved to have its share of momentous occasions and has been one of the best yet. I’m eagerly looking forward to next year and seeing what it holds. There are no fixed plans, but it promises to be another great year in Hawke’s Bay, exploring a little further afield, work will be busy and challenging, and I sure hope for plenty of riding, in different places, with whoever will come along for it.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – do come and visit Napier if you’re so inclined.

One thought on “The Christmas Letter 2016”

  1. Great to see what you’ve been up to this year with some stunning photos! My distance has been sadly lacking this year but hoping to take in some gravel events this year.

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