Polite Media Notification: Queen Charlotte crash fails to foil charity cycle ride: South Island completed!

Picton

St John fundraiser Dunc’s Big Bike Ride returns to Picton, finishing fullest ever circumnavigation of the South Island

“That was quite a long way, wasn’t it?” said Dunc as he crossed the finish line and boarded the Interislander. He has just spent the last three-and-a-half months circumnavigating the South Island to the closest possible coastal route. The mission is a full circumnavigation of New Zealand’s two main islands, by bike, and is believed to be the first time ever such a route has been pedalled.

Picton
Key points/Why this matters:
– A first for NZ – no record of this route having been cycled before
– Raised over $4,000 for St John
– Over 7,000km ridden so far
– Crash 27km from Picton nearly put brakes on finish date

An 11th-hour accident nearly delayed the finish, but Dunc was determined to keep going and cross the line in Picton as planned.

“The front wheel struck a hard, but slippy patch of mud. I… ended up sliding off the side of the left bank headfirst, a la Superman. I felt the loaded bike coming down on top of me as I slid,” he posted on the Dunc’s Big Bike Ride Facebook page. He received numerous soft tissue injuries to the upper chest and sternum, but amazingly avoided any bone breaks. After being kept in Wellington Hospital for a night, he is now recovering with family in the capital.

The adventure has followed roads, gravel roads, tracks, paths and beaches, all with a laden bike weighing 40kg on an average day. The ride around NZ’s larger island totalled nearly 4,900km.

“It’s not far off the actual coastline of 5,842km, is it?” smirked Dunc. “Well, yes, actually it’s
miles off. But, until they put that Fiordland Coastal Scenic Route in, and one around Marlborough, too, this is all anybody’s going to be biking.”

The southern isles, including Stewart Island, were a full-on adventure, both on and off the bike. The gravel roads and high winds of the east coast were the slower sections, while the rain-lashed state highway 6 of the west provided the best impetus to get north! Other events included being trapped on the Otago Peninsula for a night, having to cook ‘boil-in-the-bags’ with mud and an interesting night spent with NZ’s smallest religious cult.

Weather extremes and tough terrain also put a fair amount of stress on The Bike, a 29″ wheeled hard-tail mountain bike modified slightly for the rigours of this special trip. Brakes, spokes and chains have all had to be changed by Bike Barn stores at regular intervals. At one point, he even had to ride the gnarly Heaphy Track on a cracked wheel!

“It was a nerve-racking time. Other bikers I showed on the track couldn’t believe I was going for it with a split wheel, but it just kept holding on, even against those huge rocks coming down from Perry Saddle!” he said upon completion of the track.

In his downtime, Dunc took time to meet many South Islanders and talk with them about his mission.

“People here have been so welcoming of my chosen cause, it’s been quite humbling. Checkout operators, holidaymakers, farmers, businessmen, retired folk and camp owners have all wanted to donate. They’re a lovely bunch – even the German campervan renters who make up some 80% of the population have contributed in some way!”

All the money raised goes to help St John buy lifesaving equipment, for use nationwide. The target for Dunc’s Big Bike Ride is $10,000, which is enough for two defibrillators, with some left over. Donations can be made via the Givealittle page (link below).

Despite the solo nature of riding a bicycle, Dunc maintains that this is a team effort, involving lots of people.

“I have a list as long as my body of people who I simply could not have done this without. Their time, expertise, generosity, wisdom and kindness is all appreciated from the bottom of my heart.”

Dunc’s Big Bike Ride will now head up the west coast of the North Island, through the likes of Whanganui, New Plymouth, Raglan, Waitakere and Dargaville, before turning at Cape Reinga and heading back towards Auckland for an estimated early-August finish. The ride began on 2nd January 2015.

Donate: givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/seawaynz
Like: facebook.com/seawaynz
Track: maps.duncwilson.co.nz

Picton! The South Island is complete!

On Thursday, 11th June 2015, I completed my circumnavigation of New Zealand’s South Island by bike. It was a less-than-simple day! Here’s how it happened…

Around 2pm and about 4km from the end of the Queen Charlotte Track, the front wheel struck a hard, but slippy patch of mud. I lost control and, trying to bail and stay clear of the bike, ended up sliding off the side of the left bank headfirst, a la Superman.

What happened next was one of my worst nightmares from this trip! I felt the loaded bike coming down on top of me as I slid. I stopped after about 8m, but the bike passed me and carried on another 2m, hitting the tree in the picture you saw yesterday.

I recall my first instinct being to check I still had all my teeth, which I did, before saying out loud to myself – because that’s what I do on this adventure, all the time – “You are so funkin lucky to still have all your teeth, Dunc! How have you still got all your teeth?!” I couldn’t believe this had happened, though! On that day, of all the days. I *had* to finish then. I couldn’t not finish. I wanted to finish then!

I spent the next 20 minutes in a mild state of shock, which I monitored, breathing calmly and assessing myself to ensure I didn’t slip in any further. My entire upper body was stinging with pain, but I could still use it.

bike crash
A true crash site!
We were a long way down from the track. I managed a climb up to dump my hydration pack on the track, hoping it would act as a marker if anyone passed and could then help out. I popped a couple of Ibuprofen as I knew there would be swelling and I had to get out of there, so knocking any pain on the head was bound to help.

I clambered back down to the bike, using trees as hand holds as I descended. The papers, maps, notepad and everything else from my front bag was strewn everywhere, like a true crash site. I tidied up, pulled the bike back round, unclipped everything and began, really cautiously and slowly, moving my gear back up to the track. My right shoulder through to my neck was stinging as I carried the stuff. First the bags, tent and sleeping bag, before finishing with the bike.

The bike hadn’t even broken a spoke, which is amazing really, since that is its trick du jour. The brakes were a bit strange, but still worked. I loaded the gear on and just rode. I rode right out of there! It was now an hour since the smash.

I made it to Anakiwa, where there was nothing open, before just gunning the 23km to Picton. I just rode and rode and rode. I was starving, I had missed lunch, but I tried to find a St John station in Picton first, which I couldn’t. The painkillers and a drop or two of adrenalin were keeping me going. I grabbed some dirty takeaway food (that was actually quite nice) and made for the Interislander check-in.

Picton
We made it to Picton!

Once sailing, I had three crew members, all trained in either emergency response or first aid, check up on me in the medical room. I was brought an ice pack to hold on the most swollen part of my chest and was looked after very well.

We arrived in Wellington and I rode to my friend Harri’s flat, dumped my gear, before riding on to Wellington Hospital’s ED. X-rays, ECG, ultrasound, all the tests were all carried out and eventually it was let on to me, by the delightful Dr Chetna, that I hadn’t broken anything!

Some soft tissue injury to my right chest, a bashed sternum, a badly drawn trapezium boy and a double backflip on the high-horse was all it was! They kept me in overnight for some Truman Show-style observation, before ramming a needle in my arm and wiping my legs down with booze in the morning. Great place and great food!

South Island Seaway Map
The fullest ever circumnavigation of the South Island by bike? Click to see the route!
I need to take some time off now to rest for a few days. Thanks to you all for the kind messages. Now I know that nothing is broken, I can get excited and say:

WE BLOODY DID IT! WE BLOODY FINISHED THE SOUTH ISLAND!

Dx

Polite Media Notification: Charity bike ride completes Heaphy Track in three days, with broken rear wheel

Rider raising funds for St John relieved to arrive in Collingwood intact

Aucklander Dunc Wilson, who is attempting a full circumnavigation of New Zealand by bicycle to raise funds for St John, was relieved Friday night to complete the Heaphy Track and ride on to Collingwood – all with a broken rear wheel.

“I first noticed the split in the rim on Wednesday morning, as I was preparing to leave Karamea,” said Dunc.

“I had DOC huts booked, a hired PLB for only a week, no bike shop nearby, so my only option was to bandage up the wheel, go easy on it and hope for the best. I spent the first few hours of the ride formulating a series of back-up plans, should the rim fail, so I feel I was well covered.”

Three riding days later and Dunc arrived safely in Collingwood, where the local motor camp owners kindly donated him a cabin for the night.

“It was a nerve wracking time. The other bikers I showed on the track couldn’t believe I was going for it with a split wheel, but it just kept holding on, even against those huge rocks coming down from Perry Saddle!”

Cable ties can fix almost anything!
Cable ties can fix almost anything!

Dunc’s Big Bike Ride began on 2nd January from Mission Bay, a harbour beach east of Auckland’s CBD. The route so far has taken him south along the eastern side of the country, west at the Catlins, before turning north at the Southland township of Tuatapere and heading up the West Coast.

“I have to ride the closest legal, available and rideable route to the NZ coastline,” explains Dunc.

“The Heaphy Track was perfect as it offered me a way through to Golden Bay, without having to ride that Takaka hill thing twice! Although, I am looking forward to trying it out, since everyone from Wellington to Invercargill has gone on about it!”

With the help of Gary at Collingwood Motor Camp, a temporary fix was applied to the wheel, but a new one isn’t available until sponsors Bike Barn get one to Nelson. The ride will now head briefly west to Pakurau River before tracking up to Farewell Spit.

“I’ve always heard great things about Golden Bay and now I get to experience it at a decent pace.”

Dunc expects the ride to take around seven months all up, with the South Island completed by early June. He’s raised $3,600 so far for St John, with a target of $10,000.

Donate: givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/seawaynz
Like: facebook.com/DuncWilsonNZ
Track: maps.duncwilson.co.nz
Hashtag: #SeawayNZ