By Dr John Mackenzie
The Tour of New Zealand is a bike race from the bottom of the South Island to Wellington on the North Island. The race spans 700 kms in 7 days. It is raced as stage race (team or individual) and there are around 400 competitors overall. I did the race as an individual in the masters section.
The race commenced in Bluff in freezing conditions and it stayed that way for 6/7 days of the race. The temperature ranged from -3 to 0 degrees and we cycled through 3 storm patterns, getting snow twice!! The photo below is at the start of the Wanaka to Omarama leg over the Lindus pass.
I got the lead in the masters section early on and increased that over the 7 days,. I won one stage - the stage that finished in my old home town beating all the teams and individuals. This was a real highlight as my Dad and lots of old friends were there to see my win. It was a particularly challenging stage where we averaged 41 kms/hr for 88 kms over rolling hills and actually finished in sunshine a tropical 12 degrees!
At the end of the race I got 4th overall, won two stages and placed in the top 3 on 3 other occasions. The open winner was David Emery from England, a Kiwi was second and a Russian was third. I can highly recommend the race if you have an obsessive cycling disorder like me, enjoy meeting some great people and enjoy riding through some spectacular scenery. I just home that in time my wife will forgive me for being absent in training these last few months.
Photo: Dr John Mackenzie commencing the Wanaka to Omarama stage. Photo taken by Trevor Biggs.