How the journey started 

My wife, Rhonda, and I were travelling north after touring the New Plymouth/ Taranaki area on the North Island of New Zealand in our campervan and stopped for a coffee at a café in a place called Mangakino. We got chatting with a fellow cyclist and his wife. That was in 2018. It transpires he had just completed the TA2018 and was travelling home. The TA (Tour Aotearoa – Aotearoa is the Maori word for New Zealand) is an unsupported biannial 3000Km mixed terrain bike packing brevet ride. It starts at Cape Reinga which is the most northerly point of New Zealand to Bluff which is the most southerly point. Inspired by this conversation, the seed was sown and I had two years to plan and prepare for the TA2020.

Planning and Preparation 

Having been a road cyclist for most of my life the first challenge was to check out the bike and kit requirements for this challenging bike-packing odyssey. A friend, Paul, of a friend, Chris, who I had ridden with a couple of times rides a Sonder Camio Ti gravel bike and spoke very highly of it. He also told me the bike was supplied by Alpkit who could advise and supply pretty much all of the bike packing kit required to tackle the TA ride. A visit to the Alpkit, Hathersage, store in Derbyshire, UK with Rhonda followed shortly afterwards to seek advice from the very knowledgeable store staff and to check out their bikes and bike-packing kit. A second visit with a friend, Peter, followed so that I could test ride the Sonder Camio Ti gravel bike on some challenging off-road trails near to the Hathersage store. On returning the bike to the store after the test ride I was confident this was the bike for me and ordered the bike and kit there and then. A significant bonus of our negotiation was Alpkit could deliver the whole consignment to an address in New Zealand of my choice.……….

For Graham’s full 79 page ‘epic’ –> (click on the enclosed link below) – ENJOY!

TA2020 – My Story.docx