VIDEO: That time I cycled up Baldwin Street, Dunedin. It’s the world’s steepest residential street, you know

Dunc Wilson on Baldwin Street

One evening, during the bike ride, I called my maps man Scoot and said “hey, I’ll be in Dunedin tomorrow. Fly down?”. Seven hours later, he was on a plane from Auckland.

One caveat of his impromptu visit was that I must cycle The Bike (the one I was riding around the entire coastline of New Zealand) to the top of Baldwin Street, which just so happens to be the world’s steepest street.

It happened. You can watch my brief summation of events here (warning: contains the s-word):

Yes, look again, I cycled up there in jandals (flip-flops).

The Story Of Dunc’s Big Bike Ride will be out as soon as I’ve written it – please ‘Like’ my Facebook page for updates!

Polite Media Notification: NZ’s longest ever charity bike ride now northward bound

St John fundraiser Dunc’s Big Bike Ride reaches the end of the south, turns corner

108 days since leaving Auckland’s Mission Bay, Dunc Wilson and his Merida Big NINE 500 mountain bike are now on a course north for Cape Reinga. The trip, a fundraiser for St John, has raised more than $3,000 for the charity.

The ride, which staunchly claims to be the fullest possible circumnavigation of New Zealand on a loaded bicycle, is following the Kiwi coast clockwise and expected to take around seven months to return to east Auckland. Geography and maths have been combined to calculate this:

“We reached Dunedin in about three months. If you look at how much East Cape sticks out compared with Taranaki, I reckon that makes Dunners about halfway. So it should take six to seven months all up,” reasons Dunc, ignoring completely the size of the Kaipara Harbour and the jagged shape of the Bay Of Islands.

Old Papatotara Road
Literally the end of the track: New Zealand’s Fiordland Coast is “unmountainbikeable”

Having to divert inland due to something called ‘Fiordland’, the ride will now head to Milford Sound, before cutting back in through Queenstown, Haast Pass and up the West Coast.

The money raised for St John will go to help the organisation buy lifesaving equipment, for use nationwide. Dunc’s target is $10,000, which is more than enough for two defibrillators. Donations can be made via the Dunc’s Big Bike Ride Givealittle page (link below).

The three-and-a-half months since the trip began have been a full-on adventure ride, taking in heaps of the country.

“There can be no better way to truly meet New Zealand. From townies to tourists, loggers to lifesavers, sheep shearers to students… I’ve met people from all walks and I feel I know NZ better than ever. There’s some pretty funny stories in there too, which I may share one day.”

The odometer so far stands at roughly 5,000km, which has put a fair amount of strain on The Bike, a 29″ wheeled hard tail MTB specially modified by Bike Barn with the rigours of such a trip in mind.

“We’re on chain number three, cassette number two and I’ve broken about ten spokes all up. The spokes break because I insisted on bringing my nice three-man tent and travel pillows. They are protesting against the weight, but it’s fine; if they don’t want to be part of this huge ride, then I just transfer them at the next Bike Barn stop. They are out, just like an EPL footballer.”

The tour turned north at the Southland township of Tuatapere and will soon pass down your road*.

Hashtag: #SeawayNZ

*provided you live on or as close as possible to the coastline

Three stages down, not sure why I keep winning them!

Dunc’s Big Bike a Ride, Tour de Zealandia, that thing that idiot is doing… whatever your name for it is, it’s going quite well so far, thanks.

Stages completed so far:
Stage 1: Mission Bay – Omana Regional Park
Stage 2: Omana Regional Park – Thames
Stage 3: Thames to Coromandel Town

Let’s be clear, here, though: it ain’t easy. It’s bloody tough. But, thankfully, I haven’t yet suffered the issues many friends and bike touring colleagues usually succumb to on these sort of adventures. Yet.

After a marvellous send off at Mission Bay, from some top peeps who are awesome, my early-stage riding buddies Scott & Jarrod and I set about seeing all the beaches on Auckland’s east coast. And I think we did okay: that spit at Tahuna Torea that lets you get within 200m of Bucklands Beach, Point England Reserve, Bucklands Beach, Eastern Beach (where all the people were: all the people!), Mellons Bay (ridiculous name!) before riding round Howick and Whitford to arrive at Beachlands’ pretty snazzy looking marina: Pine Harbour (for boats, not making movies).

When I gave my notice for this adventure, my manager said to me, in that generous way that Kiwis have mastered: “you’re welcome to stay on our lawn when you come through Beachlands.” Not realising the distance, I rejected the offer, thinking anywhere within commuting distance to the city centre was way too close and I’d like to be a lot further than Beachlands on day one!

As it happened, we stayed just up the road from Beachlands on day one: at Omana Regional Park. Ah well, I’m not sure she was around over the holidays anyway.

Next day, we set off and rode Maraetai Beach, which was awesome as we got to go under a little pier. The road to Duder Regional Park was fun, with the stunning Pohutukawa coastline adjacent all the way.

My fave part of stage 2, however, was shortly after we arrived at Orere Point. I knew that we had to also hit up Tapapakanga Regional Park before heading to Miranda. We’d been a few hours on roads by that time, so decided a quick look at the map and a trek round the beaches was in order. Even if we had to push. It turned out we did have to push for a lot of it, but it was worth it for the feeling of arriving on Tapapakanga Beach with holidaymakers all glaring in bemusement at where these two mountain bikers had turned up from!

The remainder of the day was a fast burn down the Pacific Coast Highway into Miranda, then State Highway 25 to the new Kopu Bridge, with a view of the silly old single lane one as we crossed, then a closing stretch of the Hauraki Rail Trail into Thames.

Leaving Thames, I knew I had only job to do: survive State Highway 25 heading north to Coromandel Town. Fortunately I had the returning holiday traffic going the other way in my favour, plus a seemingly calm, relaxed bunch of drivers heading my way. The hills were hell, but I treated myself to a milkshake at the top and everything seemed to pass by. The downs were amazing and I captured the pay-off superbly on the helmet-cam!

I’m currently enjoying a well-earned rest day at Tide Water Holiday Park. The good buggers gave me a discount when I arrived, too! Tonight: rest ride to Wyuna Bay and back. Stage 4 tomorrow!

I am going to cycle the coastline of New Zealand for St John!

The charity I intend to do my mad cycle round New Zealand for is St John. Like all good announcements, I did the announcing of this on the Facebooks, like this:

I’m giving six months, can you give six bucks? My donation page is here!