with Rod Oram


B to B 2024

B to B 2023

Tour of NZ 2023


Tour Aotearoa

Hitting the wall

Aug 2, 2023

Day 2. Malybai to Kergen. 117km, 1,625km

I slept very well last night and woke eager to ride our second day of the tour. Being my first camp pack-up since the last day of Tour Aotearoa back in 2020, I was a little slow but got the job done. But as we got going about 6.45am it was already hot and yet I never imagined what lay ahead.

It was a route of very long straights through a vast (apologies for already overusing that adjective! I really must find some synonyms) landscape more arid than yesterday’s and hotter by the kilometre. The climb was never steep but it was long, winding up through a gorge to a plateau. To my delight on top, I discovered my Kazakh kindred spirits had proclaimed our shared long-term view.

From there, a route swept down into the next gorge, where our lunch stop was at the 70km mark on our day’s route. But I could barely eat any lunch, compounding my minimal breakfast. I had completely lost my appetite and my body seemed to not want me to eat. A classic symptom of deep dehydration, Moniek, the medic on our crew told me. In retrospect, I realised I’d drunk less during the morning than the day before…and the temperature was a lot hotter. We were guessing high 30s, possibly 40C – my Garmin cycle computer said 45C but it always reads high.

A long lunch break in the shade without much food (because I just couldn’t face it) but a fair amount of fluids made no difference. I just couldn’t imagine riding the last 45km to the finish which included another big climb. So I got in the bus when we set off from lunch. Along the way we picked up another six riders at various points along the road…tho they did get out later for the last 11km swoop down to our campsite. I decided not to.

Our campsite was an expansive sweep of grass, just above the river, outside the largest of the small towns we’ve passed through so for. As we were setting up our tents, a thunderstorm swept in. Fortunately I got mine up just as the hail hit.

Well, the tent was fine as was our overnight stay. But I was still struggling to eat and drink enough…which didn’t bode well for the next day’s ride.