Kia kaha! Te Tawhio o Whanganui is only four weeks away.
John Randal (aka Sifter) was inspired by the Kiwi Brevet to organise an event with similar elements of camraderie and long challenging days in the saddle through beautiful countryside - the Tawhio (or 'Loop, journey') is it. This event - a 500-700km lap of the Whanganui National Park has a couple of key differences.
First, the route selection is fairly loose. You must start/finish in Whanganui and pass through Raetahi, Whangamomona and Patea, but the exact route is up to you. If you have a traditional touring rig, you might stick to the roads. If you have a full suspension MTB, you can deviate into the jungle a bit more. Of course the bike dictates nothing - it's up to you. But you need to make it to those key towns by the end of the day.
Second, you might have noticed all the place names are Maori. This part of the country has an incredibly rich pre-European history (as well as some interesting tales of pakeha endeavour). This rich culture is what inspired an event title in te reo. If the title piques your interest in the culture along the way, you'll be well on the way to getting the most out of the tour.
Finally, as a tour with set overnight stops, the Tawhio is designed to be more social than a non-stop brevet. John will specify a particular lodge or motorcamp for us all to congregate at each evening, so we can compare routes and tell a few lies.
Other things remain the same. This will still be a test of cycle touring ability - endurance, gear selection, self-sufficiency, riding skills & navigation. Regardless of which route you choose, you'll encounter some very remote country. There will be no event support of any kind to fall back on when things go pear-shaped. There is no entry fee and no prizes. The satisfaction of finishing will be priceless.
You can find out more about te Tawhio here
Hope to see you on the start line.