Mirko Gummersbach hails from Sauerland in Germany, a hilly region 70km east of Cologne. Having just booked his eighth cycle tour with Natural High, we thought we’d better find out what keeps bringing him back!
What do you like about cycling in New Zealand?
For road cycling, I cannot imagine a better place than New Zealand. Firstly, there are all these different landscapes within a relatively small area. The ocean, the Alps, the highlands, the flatlands, the lakes. People might say that New Zealand is hilly, very hilly. But behind the next hill always waits another spectacular view – a gift for your efforts. So to me it brings a perfect mixture of challenge and relaxation.
Secondly – very important – less traffic. You feel more secure than you do in Germany. Even when no official bicycle track is available.
Thirdly, I do not need to take a tent because in nearly every small town you find a hostel for a small budget.
Where have your previous tours taken you? Where are you heading on the tour you’re about to embark on?
I did my tours mainly across the South Island. The only areas where I did not cycle the South Island so far are the deepest south and the Marlborough Sounds. And this is the place where I am heading in 2020. The tour will bring me from Christchurch through the Sounds to Picton, via the east or west coast (which is more or less a spontaneous decision). And then from Picton back to Nelson where I am going to give back the bike.
Do you have a favourite place/places?
My bike. It brings me to a lot of beautiful places.
Have you ever encountered any problems or mishaps while riding in New Zealand?
Relatively often trucks are going to pass you too close. Perhaps the drivers are not used to have cyclists in parallel? This I do know since my first tour in New Zealand. What I do is try to listen to what is coming from behind me.
What do you love most about travelling by bike?
Freedom. To go where you want to go. And the mixture of exertion and relaxation, which totally frees my mind.
What types of accommodation do you stay in?
I prefer to stay in hostels. The kitchen is always a good place to meet other people. After a long day in the saddle, on my own, I like to have some conversation in the evening. But not too much. I am tired …
What bike will you use for your tour?
I am going to ride a Surly Disc Trucker. It is a simple, but very robust touring bike with disc brakes and some rear panniers. It fits perfectly to what I want. Hey, I am not going to do a race. The most important thing to me is to ride my own saddle which I bring from home.
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you have troubles on your way, with the bike, with yourself, whatever … do not hesitate to ask people for help. The Kiwis are very friendly and are used to supporting you in each way they can. And to me this is the most important thing about New Zealand!
Images: Courtesy of Mirko Gummersbach