9 Things To Do On Your Bike In 2015

9 things to do on your bike in 2015 Looking to shake up your 2015 cycling life? Here are 9 ways to go about it…

 

1) Watch a pro cycle event
Whether it’s an indoor track event or a road race, watching the pros at work is a thrill. Television viewing doesn’t do their speed justice – in real life they’re flying!

2) Ride your bike to work
You’ve probably got a whole ream of excuses for why you don’t ride to work: it’s too dangerous, too far, you’ll arrive all hot and sweaty etc. But try it once and see how you go. You might just be surprised by how much more enjoyable your daily commute becomes. Plus, it’ll save you money and get you fitter.

3) Get involved with a cycle club
Cycle clubs come in many different forms, from weekly road riding crews to hardcore off-road shredders! Joining a club means you’ll instantly gain a whole new crew of riding buddies who share the exact same passion as you. Often you’ll have to give time back to the club, like helping to build tracks or organising events – but hey, that sounds pretty fun, too.

4) Ride a hundred miles in a day
There’s something deeply satisfying about getting a century under your belt – and your friends and family will be mega impressed. You’re going to have to put in some work to reach this milestone though, so keep pushing out your regular rides, ramping up the distance bit by bit.

5) Go cycle touring
Get up close and personal with the sights, smells and sounds of a new region (or country). If you’ve never cycle toured before, a guided tour is the best way to get started. These take care of everything – route, accommodation, meals and luggage transfer – and if the riding gets too much, you can always hop aboard the support vehicle.

6) Enter a race or event
There are so many great cycle events taking place these days that you might find it hard to pick just one! We’ve talked about 2015 Kiwi events in past editions of the newsletter (click here for easier, lighthearted affairs and here for more hardcore challenges).

7) Ride with all the family
Pack up a picnic and head out for a day exploring. Whether you choose a leisurely cycle trail or a selection of quiet back roads, it’s a great way to get the kids interested in your sport.

8) Combine cycling with sipping
While we’re not not advocating heavy drinking and riding, a two-wheeled vineyard or craft brewery tour makes a lot of sense. Great places in New Zealand for sampling and cycling include Martinborough, Waiheke Island and the Nelson region.

9) Hit up a park
If you’re a dedicated road rider, switch it up a little. A few hours riding a park or an off-road trail could convert you to the rough and tumble. Similarly MTB fans might get some benefit from taking to the road once in a while.


How to Make a Cyclist Happy This Christmas

If you still haven’t got round to your Christmas list, don’t panic: we’ve rounded up a few, fun gift ideas for the avid cyclist in your life….
xmas gifts for cyclists
Pizza Tool
Who doesn’t love pizza after a long day in the saddle? The PZT-2 Pizza Tool is an update of one of Parktool’s all-time greats, except now it’s bigger (for better hand position), better (super sharp, large diameter stainless steel cutting wheel cuts through even the toughest terrain), and stronger!

 

xmas gift guide
Camelbak Podium Drink Bottle
BPA free and made to fit all types of bike bottle cages. The self-sealing Jet Valve™ means spills and splatters are a thing of the past. Plus, each purchase supports Trail Fund NZ, a not-for-profit project helping develop and maintain mountain bike trails across New Zealand.

 

xmas gift guide
Pedallers’ Paradise
The cycle tourist’s bible to biking in New Zealand, available in North or South Island versions. Each guide includes route descriptions, highway profiles, gradient descriptions, details of local attractions and services and sketch maps. 2013/4 updated editions now available through the Natural High shop. Start planning your NZ cycling adventure!

 

cycle gift guide
Oopsmark Leather Wine Rack
A vegetable-tanned, leather bicycle wine rack, for the vintage-loving cyclist.

 

 

gift guide cycle lovers
Retrofitz Cycling Shoes
Turns a favourite pair of sneakers into a grippy, cycle shoe. The Retrofitz DIY Conversion Kit comes with a 4-hole plate for a variety of cleat placement.


The Following Events Are Not For the Faint-Hearted

mtb parks in aucklandLooking to challenge yourself in 2015? Then put the following events in your calendar…

1) The Kiwi Brevet
A self-supported 1100km or 700km cycle event around the top of the South Island.
When: 31 January – 8 February 2015.

Never heard of a brevet before? Riders follow a course through a series of pre-determined checkpoints. You can ride individually or in groups, and must be self-sufficient in terms of food and accommodation.

The 2014 Brevet traversed anti-clockwise from Blenheim – route details for 2015 will be announced shortly. You can read about the 2014 Brevet – and register for the 2015 event – here. (Entry numbers are limited and filling fast, so get in quick if you’re keen.)

2) The Rainbow Rage
21 March 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of this Kiwi classic. The 106km route takes in the wild and mountainous terrain between St Arnauld and Hanmer Springs – expect big climbs, dramatic downhills and ford crossings.

Entry fee: $99 before 15 March. Includes free entry to the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa + meal ticket.
Late entry: $130 (no soak or meal tickets).
Enter here.

Find YouTube footage of the 2013 race here.

3) The Tour Of New Zealand
8 days of road riding through either the North or South Island, averaging around 100km per day. On the last day, everyone meets in Wellington for a head-to-head criterium in the grounds of Parliament. You can enter individually, ride in a team of three or more, or join for day stages.

When: 11-18 April 2015.
For full details, head here.

We can hook you up with bike hire for all these events! Check out our range of rentals here.


Temptation Abounds on the Great Taste Trail, Nelson

great taste trail NelsonWhen is a cycle tour also an exercise in eating and drinking? When you’re sipping and savouring your way around the Great Taste Trail Nelson…

Meandering through the picturesque Nelson and Tasman region, the Great Taste Trail serves up relaxed riding, stunning coastal views and a seemingly limitless supply of cafes, breweries and vineyards.

This northern tip of the South Island enjoys more sunshine than any other part of New Zealand, meaning hop gardens, orchards and berry farms flourish. You’ll find plenty of roadside fruit and veg stalls dotted along your route – leave room in your backpack or panniers to take home a few treats.

Mainly flat riding makes this trail a great option for families or newbie cyclists (although not so great for working off the excess calories!) Ride the whole 174km loop… or break it into bite-sized chunks. Here are a few options:

From Nelson:
Ride round the Waimea Estuary to Rabbit Island, a popular beach and picnic spot. From there, you can catch a ferry to Mapua (check ferry times here) and explore the shops and galleries at Mapua Wharf.

From Motueka
Head out along quiet back roads to Riwawa, where refuelling options include the Ginger Dynamite café and Hop Federation brewery. If you’ve overdone the eating part, opt to push on to the pretty beach at Kaiteriteri. This route will take you through the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park – there’s a hill involved – but the coastal views and golden sands at the end are more than worth it.

Or, head south from Motueka to the little town of Tasman. There are several vineyards just off the trail – check winenelson.co.nz for an interactive map. Push on a little further along the Ruby Coast and you’ll find the 2013 New Zealand Café of the Year. Jester House is home to fabulous baking, a rambling, organic garden and tame eels!

Sample it all
Alternatively, strap on your panniers and complete the whole circuit. The trail is 174km in total – at a relaxing pace you should be able to complete it in three or four days. Accommodation is as plentiful as the food options – you’ll find a good selection on the trail website.

Image: Brad Fults


Small City New Zealand: Nelson

abel tasmanGolden rays beam down on the little city of Nelson, located at the top of the South Island. It boasts more sunshine than anywhere else in New Zealand, three national parks and the title of arts capital of the country. Plenty to see and do, then!

Jump on your bike: Nelson is a pedaller’s paradise with kilometres of scenic tracks and trails, conveniently pitstopped by great cafes, wineries and craft breweries.

The two classic rides of the region are the Great Taste Trail, a 175km meander through the Abel Tasman National Park and Golden Bay region, and the Dun Mountain Trail, a 38km Grade 3 MTB trail.

For details of other trails in the region, hop on over to the Nelson Mountain Bike Club website.

Wander the city streets: The heart of Nelson is a compact one kilometre square, brimming with art galleries, boutiques, cafes and bars. It’s one of the oldest settlements in the country and features plenty of beautiful buildings.

Journey to the Centre of New Zealand: Take a walk through the botanical gardens (where New Zealand’s very first game of rugby was played) to the spot that supposedly marks the country’s mid-point. Whether or not this is technically accurate, the landmark still provides a picturesque, bird’s eye view of the Nelson coastline.

Snorkel, kayak or walk at Cable Bay: Take a short drive east from the city and you’ll arrive at Cable Bay, a sheltered stretch of beach with calm seas and plenty of interesting wildlife. The Cable Bay walkway is a three hour meander around the coastline and offers spectacular views of the region.

Fill your panniers (and stomach) with tasty treats: Markets are a big part of life in Nelson. The Farmers’ Market takes place every Wednesday in the heart of the city, while Saturday brings arts and crafts, plus plenty of local produce to Montgomery Square, for the 30-year old Saturday market.

Drink well: The Nelson/Tasman region is the only area in the country where hops are still grown. Not surprising then that numerous craft breweries have sprung up, offering everything from pale ales to hearty stouts. Try Bays Brewery, where beers are made without chemicals, preservatives or sugar. There are also more than 25 wineries in the region. Find full details at wineart.co.nz.

Food stops: Devilles is well-regarded for its all-day brunch options, Nicole’s Cantina serves exceptional Mexican fare while for a special treat head to Hopgoods – owner/chef Kevin Hopgood previously worked under Gordon Ramsay.

Image: Andrea Schaffer


A Guide to New Zealand Food Festivals

new zealand food festivalsWe think you’ll agree: food never tastes better than after a long, hard day in the saddle. So combining a cycle tour with a food festival? Could quite possibly be the tastiest experience of your life! Here’s a selection of some of New Zealand’s top food, wine and beer festivals – paired with a cycling adventure….

The Marlborough Food and Wine Festival

 
14 February 2015.
www.marlboroughwinefestival.co.nz

New Zealand’s original and longest-running wine festival, held in one of the world’s best wine producing regions. Wine tutorials, cooking demonstrations and entertainment on offer.

Tour pairing: 5 Day North Canterbury and Marlborough Cycle Tour.
Dates: 16 February – 20 February 2015.

Wildfoods Festival

 
Hokitika, Saturday 14 March 2015.
www.wildfoods.co.nz

Fancy sampling wasp larvae icecream, cucumber fish, sheep milk cheeses and wok fried clams? These were just some of the tasty treats on offer at last year’s Wildfoods Festival. First held in 1990 (coinciding nicely with the 125th anniversary of the birth of the town), the event has become hugely popular: 22,500 hungry hordes attended in 2003; numbers are now capped at 15,000.

Tour pairing: 5 Day Self Guided Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Queenstown.

Cheesefest

 
The Langham, Auckland, Wednesday 18 March 2015.
www.nzsca.org.nz/cheesefest

Enjoy free samples from some of New Zealand’s finest cheesemakers and a cheese sale table.
Tour pairing: 3 Day Self Guided Waiheke Island Cycle Tour (plenty of vineyards on offer – create your own cheese and wine experience!)

The Great Kiwi Beerfest

 
Hagley Park, Christchurch, 28 March 2015.
www.greatkiwibeerfestival.co.nz

A craft beerstravaganza! There were 200+ brews on tap in 2014 – organisers are promising even more for the 2015 edition.

Tour pairing: 6 Day West Coast Queenstown to Christchurch Cycle.
Tour dates: 06 March – 11 March 2015 or 04 April – 09 April 2015.

Farmers’ Markets

 

If you can’t make a festival, don’t panic: you won’t miss out. Farmers’ markets take place up and down the country every week and are a great way to sample fresh, local fare. Here’s a selection of some of the most popular markets:

North Island

Whangarei: Every Saturday.
Matakana: Every Saturday.
Parnell: The French-style Market La Cigale takes place every Saturday and Sunday morning, as well as Wednesday afternoon, while the Parnell Farmers’ Market takes place every Saturday morning between the library and museum.
Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market: Every Sunday at the Hastings showgrounds.

South Island

Marlborough Farmers’ Market: Held in Blenheim on Thursday afternoons until September, then Sunday mornings for the spring/summer season.
Waipara Valley Farmers’ Market: Every Saturday during the summer months at Pegasus Bay Winery.
Otago: Every Saturday in the carpark of the Dunedin Railway Station.
Riverton: Every Saturday morning from 10.30am.

Like more information about any of these tours? Give us a shout and we’ll happily help you out.


Fun (And Free) Riding For All The Family

funday runway mtb parkBack in 2012, Teau Aiturau was facing the biggest battle of his life.

Weighing in at 252kg, the 39-year old caregiver couldn’t walk, couldn’t breathe and suffered from sleep apnoea.

Realising that he needed to make a drastic change to his life, Teau started moving. He began helping out a local community garden, swimming at his local pool and biking with friends and family.

But his work didn’t stop there. Wanting to inspire others to lead a more active lifestyle, Teau established a charitable trust at his local Community House in Mangere (Auckland). Triple Ts – Time to Thrive, To Stay Alive has a simple vision: to build a healthier community for all to thrive. Each week, Teau runs an assortment of free tae bo, swimming classes and bike rides.

Today, Teau is 84kg lighter and the Triple Ts are going strong – the group has just been awarded $3000 in the annual Auckland Airport Gold Medal Awards, money that will partly go towards buying bikes.

To get even more people involved in his initiative, Teau is holding a fun day at the Runway Mountain Bike Park at Auckland Airport on Saturday 22 November – and we’re stoked to be taking part, too. The event is completely free to attend and if you don’t have your own gear, they’ll be bikes and helmets available (also free of charge).

So, if you’re in the area, come along and give the park a go – it’s a great way to introduce the whole family to a new sport!

Runway Funday takes place on Saturday 22 November, 10am-2pm at the Runway Mountain Bike Park at Auckland Airport. The park is located at the end of Ansett Place behind the Airport Shopping Centre (just around the corner from our Auckland branch). There’s heaps of free parking and bikes and helmets will be provided free of charge.


Top Five Auckland MTB Parks

auckland mtb parksAuckland isn’t all lattes…

 
If you’re into the rough stuff, you’ll find plenty of thrill-packed mountain bike parks within a hours’ drive of the city. Here’s our top five Auckland MTB parks:

Woodhill Mountain Bike Park
Located in west Auckland, 40mins from the CBD. Over 100km of purpose-built single track, loaded with more than 250 man-made features. Trails suitable for all levels from beginner to experienced riders. There is an on-site bike mechanic, shop and café. Great for families and open all year round. Day passes ($8 adult) and concession passes ($40, 6-days) available.
www.bikeparks.co.nz

440 Mountain Bike Park
Fourforty Mountain Bike Park is a gravity fuelled mountain biking park, one hours’ drive from the city centre. With 440 meters of vertical (a monster by Auckland standards), it’s by far the top destination for gravity riding in the upper North Island. The trails cater for beginner to expert riders. Shuttle prices from $10 for one run, $60 for 10 runs.
www.fourfortymtbpark.co.nz

Hunua Ranges
Only 40 mins south of Auckland CBD, but a million miles away from city life. Plenty of single-track trails through native forest. Camping is also permitted within the park – make a weekend of it! Free to ride.
www.aucklandmtb.co.nz/trails/hunua-trails/

Totara Park
15kms of purpose-built MTB tracks near Manukau City, only 20mins from Auckland Airport. These are fantastic, all-season tracks that suit novice mountain bikers and cyclists looking for a decent aerobic workout. Free to ride.
www.totaraparkmtb.com/

Riverhead Forest
The West Coast Riders Club (WCRC) oversees this mountain bike trail network through the Riverhead Forest, approx 30 mins from central Auckland. Since 2007, club members have created a huge number of new trails, suitable for riders of all ages and skill levels. Free to ride.
http://www.wcrc.co.nz/index.php

Need MTB hire? We can hook you up. Head here to browse our range of hardtail and full-suspension mountain bikes.


Your Bike Will Appreciate These Servicing Tips

You love your bike, right? So, show it some love! Regular bike maintenance is essential for safe riding, as well as helping to prolong your bike’s lifespan and save you money.

Dan here, and today I’m going to show you some simple bike servicing tips that you can easily carry out at home. So, let’s get started.

Before/after every ride, check:

 

bike servicing tips Quick-release parts. If you have quick release wheels or seat posts, ensure these are closed tight before setting off.

Brake effectiveness. Squeeze the brakes to make sure they’re stopping the wheels. Check the condition of the brake pads and ensure they’re not rubbing while the wheel is spinning. If your bike has v-brakes, check that the brake pad closes onto the wheel rim, not the tyre wall. If the pads have a shiny coating, or they’re squealing a lot, then you can sand them down slightly. This will also improve braking performance.
 

Wheels. Spin the wheels in the frame. If you see any wobbles they may need to be trued (straightened). This is a bit of a tricky process, so you might want to pop and see a bike mechanic. Depending on the type of brakes you are using, check that either the wheel rims or disc rotors are clean. If these are dirty it will compromise stopping power. You can clean these with just a rag soaked in soapy water, then rinse off and leave to dry.

how to service your bike Tyres. Low tyre pressure can force you to use a lot more energy than needed, and will also make the tyre more prone to punctures. The recommended maximum PSI will be printed on the tyre sidewall. Check for any glass, thorns or other sharp objects that could cause a puncture.

Chain. Have a look over the chain and add lube if it looks or feels dry.
 

Carry spares. Leave equipped with a spare tube, puncture repair kit, tyre levers, multi-tool and a pump. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a puncture in the middle of a great ride, having nothing to repair it with and having to walk back!

Every month, check:

 
(If you ride regularly or are drawn to hardcore, off-road terrain, you may need to carry out these checks more frequently.)

easy bike maintenanceNuts ‘n’ bolts. Check the tightness of connecting parts such as the cranks, pedals, handlebars and stem.

Drivetrain. Clean the chain and cassette with degreaser, then rinse, dry and re-lube.

Frame. Clean the frame and check it over for any cracks or dents.

Cables. Check for any fraying or rust and apply some lube to keep them running smooth.

how to service your bikeMoving parts. Check for any play in the bearings. Then check:

Cranks. Grab each crank arm and try to shake away from the bike.

Wheels. Hold opposite sides of the wheel, top and bottom and try to move the same as you did with the cranks.

Headset. With your bike on the floor in the riding position, squeeze the front brake with one hand and place your other on the top headset cup just below the handlebar stem. Move the bike back and forth and if you feel any movement in the headset cup it will need tightening.

These checks should help you keep your bike as fit and healthy as you! Bear in mind that you should also have a full service by a qualified bike mechanic every six months or so, as there is a lot which cannot be completed with simple tools.


Turning Up The Training For the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

Lake Taupo Cycle ChallengeSix weeks to go until Andy and Logan head to Taupo for the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge (held on Saturday 29 November). Like last year they’re both competing in the 160km Bike Barn Solo – a one-lap circumnavigation of Lake Taupo. This week, we’re catching up with Logan to see how his training is going…

Logan’s Training Regime
Logan’s training regime began last Friday (eeek!) However, he has just returned from several weeks of mountain biking in Canada, which should give him a head start. Here’s his plan for the next six weeks:

  • Commute to and from work by bike three days a week. This is about 22.5km each way, adding up to around 135km per week. This will hopefully help me lose some weight and build base fitness.
  • One long ride each week, starting at about 2.5 hours and building to 5 hours the week before event. I’m not worried about distance/average speed, just time on the bike.
  • One 1.5 to 2-hour hilly road ride or MTB ride each week.
  • Walk/jog a few times a week.
  • Drink less alcohol!

 
Fancy joining Andy and Logan?
There’s still time to enter the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge – and it doesn’t have to involve a 160km slog, either. There are heaps of different entry categories available, from a leisurely 16km ride to kid’s races and relay events. Head to the Challenge website for full details

Can’t make Taupo?
There are plenty of other fun events coming up all over New Zealand. Here’s a selection:

MS Bike the Bridge, Auckland 
16 November 2014
The Auckland Harbour Bridge only opens to cyclists twice a year – don’t miss your chance to pedal across this well-known landmark. This is a charity event with three different categories: a 115km Clip On Classic, a 50km challenge or a 20km event.
www.bikethebridge.co.nz

Milford Mountain Classic, Milford 
24 January 2015
A 120km journey around the remote peaks and valleys of Fiordland. This new race starts at Milford Sound and ends in the little town of Te Anau.
www.milfordclassic.co.nz

BikeFest Nelson 
31 Jan-15 Feb 2015
Two weeks of bike-filled fun. Events include road races, family rides, bike maintenance workshops, mountain bike orienteering, heli-bike adventures and a food and wine festival to top off the festivities.
www.bikefestnelson.co.nz

Queenstown Bike Festival, Queenstown 
13 March – 22 March 2015
Mountain bike, downhill and road biking events for all ages and abilities. Highlights include a mountain bike night ride, the Vertigo Bikes Dirtmasters Downhill and a 16Inch Pub World Championship (sure to be as wacky as it sounds).
www.queenstownbikefestival.com

Forrest GrapeRide, Marlborough 
28 March 2015
A 101km circuit that starts and ends at the Forrest Wines winery and includes 40km of riding through the stunning Marlborough Sounds. The grande finale? 100 riders crushing 3 tonne of pinot grapes…with their feet. (Let’s hope they shower, first).
www.graperide.co.nz

Need a bike to help you slay the Taupo competition?

 
We’ve got two great deals for riders tacking the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge:

  • 2-day performance road bike hire + event insurance + bike relocation to and from Taupo: $178 (normally $268).
  • 2-day Specialized Sirrus hire + event insurance + bike relocation to and from Taupo: $148 (normally $238).

 
You’ll be able to pick up your bikes in Taupo on Friday (we’ll make sure they’re fitting you right) and return on Saturday after the event. Drop us an email to reserve your bike today.