Quenton’s journey for JMB

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Congratulations to Quenton Oates.  After 20 days and 2 hours on his mountain bike, covering some of the toughest (and most beautiful) terrain from one end of New Zealand to the other, he has made it! What an amazing effort.  We’re thrilled that he chose to support JMB.

When he finally completed his journey, Quenton couldn’t have been happier to get there in one piece.

His comments:

Total journey: 3000 kms in 20 days and 2 hours.
Total damage: 2 broken wheels, 8 broken spokes, 1 burst tube and a broken front shock … easily worth the experience

It’s not too late to show your support for Quenton and for JMB.  One dollar per kilometre is all he’s looking for – that’s just $30 to reward Quenton for the fantastic effort he put in to get through this gruelling challenge. You can donate here:http://cycle.gofundraise.com.au/page/OatesQ

Read about Quenton’s travels and daily adventures below. He definitely had a few challenges, but he’s tough!

Finishing up: The Bluff, southern end of NZ.

Saturday 12 March

Final push to the Bluff and the end of the ride. The morning started out freezing cold, but soon warmed up and thankfully no wind. The thought of finally getting to the southern tip of NZ was the best energy boost I could get and I managed to cover the 140 kms by 2pm and couldn’t have been happier to see Lee there waiting for me.
Total journey – 3000kms in 20 days and 2 hours.
Total damage: 2 broken wheels, 8 broken spokes, 1 burst tube and a broken front shock……easily worth the experience

Friday 11 March

Left Arrowtown and got to Queenstown for breakfast (30 kms). Was met by Andy and Evan for breakfast. Both these guys have done epic rides all over the world and had already finished! Just before jumping on the ferry to get me across the lake we discovered that my tyre was flat and I had another two broken spokes. Got that sorted in record time and hopped on the ferry to Walter Peak Sheep station, a beautiful and remote place. Upon climbing out of the valley I was met by a brutal headwind which I later discovered had caused weather warnings, closed some tracks and caused some damage along the south coast. After 6 hours of fighting the wind and 132 kms later I finally crawled into Mossburn.

The 170,000 acre Walter Peak Sheep Station.

Walter Peak Station.

Road leading out of the valley at Walter Peak.

Thursday 10 March

Big day. Set out at 5am in the rain and icy wind to get over Haast Pass and on to Wanaka as soon as possible. Just before the pass I stopped for a rest and was told that the pass was freezing and windy. I was just about to curl up in my survival blanket when Ross and Shelly rode in – 2 experienced endurance racers. They said they were carrying on, so I decided to join them. We got over the pass just in time to beat the worst of the storm and took shelter in a coffee shop at the bottom of the pass for two hours.

The storm cleared and we had blue sky and a tail wind to Wanaka … but no accommodation so we decided to push on a further 30 kms to Cadrona. Again, no accommodation and getting dark so we headed up the Crown Range Pass (highest sealed road pass in NZ), a 16 km climb with a 6 km white knuckle drop down the other side which we did in howling wind in the dark. It was quite scary. After the pass we were back on the dirt tracks and at 9:45pm finally found a place to pitch our tents a few kms out of Arrowtown,  218 kms from where we set off in the morning.

The infamous "Bra Fence" at Cadrona.

Cardrona Hotel.

Wednesday 9 March

Fox Glacier to Haast. Another fairly easy 126kms along the beautiful West Coast. Warnings of bad weather were starting to filter in.

Tuesday 8 March

Ross to Fox Glacier. A fairly easy 134 kms. Rain in the morning, but it cleared up during the day.

Monday 7 March

Rode some of the best trails in NZ today. Easy climbs and flowing single track along the breach, through kms of forest and next to crystal rivers.  One small drawback – It rained buckets for most of the day.
Reached the village of Ross at about 5:45pm and found a bunk in what I am told were old stables at the back of the local hotel. Total luxury.
Also happens that Monday night is the buffet night and I kid you not, the food would have rivalled any fancy establishment anywhere. Roast lamb, roast beef, fish, fresh vegies, salad and desert. All served in the bar.
More rain forecast for tomorrow. We’ll see what the day brings.
No pics due to rain.

No I'm not lost, that is the trail

The "easy" part of the Waiuta Trail

Sunday 6 March

Started off at 5am with a great 45kms to Reefton. Thereafter we hit the Waiuta Track. The first short section is steep, rocky and more or less ridable. It then gets progressively worse until it becomes downright obnoxious.
It took me five-and-a-half hours to push, pull, lift, drag my bike over the saddle and down the other side. A short but hard downpour during this excursion did not help.
Fortunately the last 50kms to Graymouth was great riding.
11 hours to cover the 145kms for the day.

Saturday 5 March

Hit the road for Murchison at 5:30am. Route took us via Lake Rotoroa and some pretty cool forest tracks.
Got to Murchiston just after 12pm. Had lunch and headed for Springs Junction, but underestimated the time it would take to get over the Maruia Saddle which is a rather steep 7km clImd.
Got to Springs Junction at 6:45pm and 173kms further along the route.
Springs Junction is a pretty small pkace and everything was closed. I forgot it is Saturday. This means I will have to raid some of my emergency supplies for breakfast which will be a tIn of tuna, long life “high energy” shake, long lIfe cheese and the last sandwich they had at the local gas statIon.
Sorry. No pics due to poor internet connection.

Early start - sunrise

Friday 4 March

Hit the road at 5am to get through the 55 kms I needed to do to get back to where I left the route. Then made my way up the dreaded Maungatapu Track – 12.5kms of granny gear climbing over rough 4×4 tracks followed by a white knuckle descent down the other side into Nelson.
Route then skirted a number of small towns ending at Wakefield, the last town before a relatively tough 40km leg through the forest to Tapawera.
I got to Wakefield at about 4pm and since it had no laundry facility I decided to stock up with food and push on with the view of sleeping somewhere in the forest. To my surprise I got to Tapawera at 7pm and found a camp site with hot showers and a laundry facility.
Total of 175kms over 14 hours through some really beautiful country.
Apologies for the lack of pics but I had to keep moving today.

Don't know why I'm smiling! This means another day delay.

Sunrise over The Sound

Thursday 3 March

Its been a couple of “interesting” days.
Wednesday: last day on N Island started with a good single track climb over the pass followed by a flat 50kms into Wellington. Just before I got to the ferry l heard a bang and a pinging noise – Burst tyre and 2 spokes. Fortunately it was only about 600m to the bike shop!
Hopped on the ferry and got to Picton just as it was getting dark. Decided not to press on but to stay the night.
Thursday: Disaster. About 55kms into the ride on a very uneven gravel road I moved over for a car and ended up in a ditch and buckled my front wheel AGAIN. This time the rim cracked. The guy in the car gave me a lift to a cafe on the nearest tar road where I left my bike hitched a lift with my wheel back to Picton. No joy there so I had to hire a car and dive 130kms to Nelson. The best they could do was sell me a whole new wheel but could not fit my dyno hub to it as the dyno has a different spoke config. I was relying on the dyno to provide power to my lights, GPS and phone. So I had to also buy a cache battery that I will have to charge every few days so that I can use it to recharge the GPS etc.
I posted the dyno home and set off back to Picton with my new wheel and recharger. Half way back, while passing through a small town all traffic was stopped becausethe local corner store was on fire!!!!
Finally back on Picton and will have to set off early tomorrow to cover the 55kms I did yesterday to get back onto the route and restart my journey.

Hilly farmland outside Wellington

Tuesday 1 March

A day much like yesterday but I hit the wall at about 150kms and it took me nearly 3 hours to complete the last 25kms. 100kms to Wellington tomorrow to catch the ferry across to Picton on the South Island.
No pics as Internet connection really shaky.

Monday 29 February

Late start (10:45am) after getting new spokes put in my wheel. Travelled along beautiful country roads with the now familiar one or six tough climbs. As it started getting dark I started to scout for places to sleep but could not find any. At about 9:30pm and 182kms later I crawled into a small town. The only place I could find open was full of young tourists and the only room available had a shared a toilet and shower down the passage. No worries as I was no doubt the dirtiest guy there. At about 11:30pm I was woken by the amorous sounds of a couple I thought was next door. To get them to keep quiet I decided to make a noisy trip to the bathroom and in doing so discovered they were 3 doors down!! Fortunately they took the hint. Call me me an old prude but I’m sleeping in the bush from now on. I find the chirping of crickets more soothing.

Sunday 28 February

Sunday : a bit of everything. 45kms of country gravel roads too start the day. 11kms of mud in the forest after a heavy rain during the night. 12km climb out of the forest and 35kms of single track to the jet boat to get us out of the wilderness area.
Sometime during this section I broke 2 spokes so when the boat dropped us off at 3:25pm I decided to nurse my bike over the next 85kms to a town with a few bike shops so that I could be at their door when they opened on Monday.
All up, a 189km day including a 25km (approx.) jet boat ride (see Bridge to nowhere below). The rough tracks are starting to take their toll on bodies and with a few riders pulling out over the last 2 days.

 

Bridge to nowhere. Built in the early 19th century to try to establish logging in the area but mother nature would have none of it. Now part of a huge wilderness area accessible only by boat or via a 45km track. We took the track in and the boat out.

Saturday 27 February

Depart at 6am and immediately into a 12km climb followed be about 70kms of glorious flowing single track. By mid afternoon we had covered about 110kms and decided to push on to a rest stop 25kms further. Surprise – this was 23kms of non stop climbing followed by 2kms of flat.

 

Friday 26 February

Nearby town had no new wheels so bike shop fixed the buckled wheel as best they could. It’s holding out so great job. Finally got back on the road at 4pm and managed to get over a rugged 55km before finding a place to sleep in the forest

Timber trail

Kilometres of mud on the way to "a bridge to nowhere"

Specially made swing bridge to get get bikers across deep gorges.

Tent peg and some cable ties to fix a derailure.

Loading bikes onto the jet boat.

Late afternoon reflections.

Thursday 25 February

Hectic, tough day. First 80km over dead flat gravel pathways. Hard to keep up a good pace. Next 76kms over grueling single track with endless short sharp climbs, deep drops, tight bends and what felt like a million switchbacks up and down very steep river banks. With 16kms to go I buckled my front wheel so badly the bike is unridable and we can’t fix the wheel. There is another guy with bike issues so we are going to try to make our way to a town about 40kms away where we can get them fixed. At best we will lose a day – All adds to the “fun”.

Sunrise over the pastures.

Light at the end of the tunnel after my 16km walk to the end.

Never knew the North Island had so much flat ground.

Wednesday 24 February

Set off at 4:30am this morning to get through the greater Auckland area. Not my favourite part of the ride. Finally called it quits at 6:45pm after 215kms split between a series of nasty climbs and kms of undulating countryside. At about the 18km mark I was feeling like jelly so I found some shade and scoffed down a burger I couldn’t eat the night before. It had been maturing in my backpack for about 18 hours. I have never treated a better burger in my life – I think I’m onto something.

Mt Eden

The new "compressed 18 hour matured" bacon, egg and cheese burger.

Tuesday 23 February

Early start to the 66km ride to secure my place on the 2.5 hour boat trip across the Hokianga “habour”. Captain radioed our take-out orders to the guys at the Other end who had them waiting for us when when arrived at 8pm. The local yacht club then put us up for the night. Kiwi hospitality at its best.

Loading the boat from the beach took some serious skippering skills.

Monday 22 February

Managed 180kms today. Just over 12 hours on the trail. Took a fall on a really rough gravel Road and have a golfball sized lump on my knee, but no damage. Shorter ride tomorrow to Pouto Point to catch the ferry across the bay.

Looking back at Opononi Inlet after a killer climb.

One of the last remaining giat Kauri trees. Thousands of years old. Absolutely beautiful towering out above the forest.

Rode with this guy today. He drove me crazy - couldn't get rid of him and he kept singing the same song over and over again.

Early morning trail scenes.

Sunday 21 February

Day 1 on our 3000k journey. A Brutal 104kms. 20 to 30km headwind for the full 85kms down the beach. Also managed to break my pedal and cleat. At about the two thirds mark. Managed to do a hack job on it at the camp site. Hope it holds until I can get to a bike shop about 350kms from here.

Sunrise at Pukenui, a short distance from the start.

20 to 30km headwinds on 90 mile (km) Beach.

Starting out: Cape Reinga, northern tip of NZ.