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Alps to Ocean: The Vercoe Family’s Inspiring Story

October 27, 2016
We Did It!  The Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail over 4 days & 3 nights – October (Springtime) 2016! Rhea, 11yrs & Isaac, 8yrs rode sections on the first 2 days with me.  We choose the alternative start point in Tekapo.  See our story Alps to Ocean:  Planning & Preparation for all the details.  Read on for the highlights and our comments about our trip…   Spring time is a fantastic time of year to ride this trail….snow capped mountains reflected in canals and lakes…just breath taking.  The down side to this is slightly unstable weather, we had rain overnight on two of our three nights camping and I endured a southerly weather change going into Oamaru making me cold and wet for the end of my ride. MY HIGHLIGHTS: Day One:  Tekapo to Lake Pukaki:  Riding with the kids, canals and the colour of the water, Mt Cook and surrounding snow capped Southern Alps, just awesome.  Also the great little cycle track along Lake Pukaki shore. Day Two:  Lake Pukaki to Lake Ohau to Omarama:  Riding with Rhea to Twizel with stunning views of Mt Cook behind us and the MacKenzie countryside opening up in front of us.  The majestic Ben Ohau & stunning views over Lake Ohau from Tarnbrae Track. Day Three:  Omarama to Otematata to Lake Aviemore Dam: Lovely ride along the shore of Lake Benmore to Sailors Cutting – this would be great for kids. Riding over Benmore Dam and peaceful ride along shores of Lake Aviemore. Day Four: Kurow to Duntroon to Oamaru: Great little section through a working vineyard, fun little climb & downhill after Elephant rocks & these amazing rock formations, surprisingly pretty street that is Winsor, Oamaru gardens is stunning and finally the streets and shop fronts of the Oamaru old town – Wow!  It just puts a smile on your face when you see the ocean.   MY COMMENTS: I don’t recommend doing this entire trail over 4 days, it’s meant to be ridden in 6 to 8 for a reason.  Instead of spending most of the day on the bike you can rest up and explore the area you have stopped at and enjoy your surroundings in a more relaxed manner than I managed. Sections of this track have not been designed with young families or people towing trailers in mind. Some of it would be really challenging in terms of track widths and surfaces for bikes towing trailers.  Towing any kind of trailer for gear or for your toddler would be difficult from Ohau over the Tarnbrae Track and there are several gravel road sections that are sluggish and hard going on a bike without the added weight of towing something. Bike tyres can clear patheways but trailer wheels sit wide and don’t follow these lines so would get stuck in gravel & shingle.  The river crossings heading to Duntroon where over a foot deep and a couple of metres wide.  The two State Highway 83 road sections after Omarama would also prove difficult/dangerous with any added width. So if you

Alps to Ocean: Preparation & Planning

October 13, 2016
The Vercoe Family planned and prepared for an adventurous ride, bike touring the Alps to Ocean over 4 days and 3 nights in October 2016!  This was mainly a ride for me, Annette, with my two children Rhea, aged 11 and Isaac, aged 8 joining me for child friendly sections of the ride.  We decided to do the ride this way because of time restrictions – we only had 4 days to complete the trail.  This means I will be riding multiple sections in the same day – distances which are too far for the children to enjoy.  If you too are restricted by time but don’t want to ride large distances take the advice of the Kennett brothers… “If you don’t have time to do the whole trail, cherry pick stages 2, 3 & 4 – they have the best scenery, the least traffic and lots of purpose built cycle path.  The other sections are largly on road.”   Get Ready to goRide – The Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail – Tekapo to Oamaru.  PLAN the destination.  We chose to ride 267km of the 300km Alps to Ocean Trail, riding from Tekapo to Oamaru, missing an on road section heading into Kurow (18km).  Note: Tekapo is becoming the preferred start point (15km shorter).  Mount Cook is the official starting point of this track.  Starting at Mt Cook means you will have to take a helicoptor ride over the braided, wide, glacial Tasman River. The helicoptors only fly in good weather and a minimum of 6 people is required.  See HeliWorks 0800 666 668 or Helicoptor Line 0800 650 651 for information.     Books that include good descriptions of the trail:  The New Zealand Cycle Trails. Nga Haerenga  by Jonathan Kennett or Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails by The Kennett Brothers.  These books also contain other New Zealand cycle trails so are good value for money if you plan on doing more than one trail. or the official NZ Cycleways website www.alps2ocean.com has great maps of individual sections which I found really helpful with planning which sections the children would enjoy riding with me. Packaged Tours & Accomodation Options:  www.alps2ocean.com/packaged-tours The MacKenzie Country, where the majority of the Alps2Ocean ride is located, is sparsely populated.  Tekapo has approximately 370 residents but enjoys a steady flow of tourists.  It has a small supermarket, cafes, restaurants, petrol station and several different accommodation options.  The biggest town along the trail is Twizel. Oamaru at the end of the ride is substantial compared to these villages, it has 21,000 people.  This area is extremely popular with tourists and the two Highways you are riding by, or on, are major truck routes in and out of the central South Island.     What did The Vercoe Family Alps to Ocean trip look like? We chose to do this trail supported by my Mum & Dad.  Who have already biked the trail so have a bit of local knowledge and a self contained caravan which means we are camping in Spring! Day One: Tekapo to Lake Pukaki 43km We set off from the Tekapo start around 10.30am.  This is opposite the town

The ‘Right’ Kids Bike Helmet.

September 29, 2016
The very first thing to consider when biking with kids is their safety. Are they safe in the environment and do they have the equipment they need to keep them safe? Right at the top of the equipment list is the right kids bike helmet. A helmet that will protect their head when they ride a bike or are on a kids bike seat or in a trailer. Make sure you get the protection that your child needs and you are paying for by having the right kids bike helmet. A helmet that they will wear, a helmet that fits, a helmet that is adjusted and worn correctly so it will remain over there head in an impact, a helmet that is not damaged and is suited to and designed for riding a bike. 1. For a helmet to work it needs to be worn. Kids are not always keen to wear a bike helmet. Often all they have had on their head is either a warm woolly hat or a sun hat. Now you expect them to be open to putting on a funny looking heavy hat and then securing it with a chin strap… So out comes the push away hand, the tears and the screams and you thought this was meant to be fun. If they are at an age where they can understand you can try to explain and rationalise the importance but basically you just need to get them used to the helmet and the feeling of a helmet on their head. Good role modeling also plays a part here.  The strong association of riding a bike and wearing a helmet comes from you and any older siblings or cousins they may have.  If you have a positive attitude to your helmet they will see this.  No helmet, no riding on a bike.  It’s a simple rule.  Expose them to the helmet before you try to take them for a ride or they go for their first ride.  Put your helmet on first then try them.  If they are not ready the first time, try to be patient, put the helmet somewhere they can see it, give it a few days and try again. Keep exposing it to them until they are comfortable wearing it. Knowing they are comfortable and happy in their helmet gives you peace of mind and means there is one less thing to think about when you are out there enjoying your ride together. What will help your child want to wear their bike helmet?  This will be different for different kids. You will know them best and what features will help you achieve this important step to protecting their head. Comfort Weight of the helmet – Remember the early days of having a new born and helping them support their head as they developed the strength to hold it up themselves. Putting a bike helmet on your child’s head adds weight to their head.  Therefore they will need the strength to support

Riding a bike up a hill

September 15, 2016
Can you bike up a rise or a hill? Would you like to be able to bike up a bigger and longer hill than you are currently able to ride? Would you like biking up a hill to feel easier? Is there a ride that you have been keen to do but there is some up hill in it that you are unsure about? Do any these situations relate to you? If so, then lets discover how you can feel more confident and find the joy in riding up a hill. As a women you will need to rely on efficiency and good technique to bike up a hill. They say the average female has only about two thirds the strength and power of the average male. Males can rely on that gifted power and strength to get them up a hill, but not us, ladies. We need to focus on good technique and efficiency to get ourselves up those hills.  Once you have good technique then the strength, power and endurance (fitness) will come. Lets look at what that good technique is:

The right bike gear at the right time.

September 1, 2016
When you are learning to use your gears you have to consider so many things all at the same time. You are approaching a hill and you know you need to make it easier to pedal otherwise you will not make it up the hill. But which lever and when do you change? Does this sound or feel familiar? Coordinating all the things involved in changing gears is challenging and it takes time to pull it all together. Practise, patience and perseverance and you will find your riding smile. In this story we are going to consider what is the right gear and when is the right time to be in that gear? Our previous stories on bike gears will help support you with your Understanding of bike gears and How to use your bike shifters to change gears, so you know how to get into the right bike gear. What is the right gear?..its simple, you will know whether you are in the right gear by understanding whether you are pedaling at a comfortable rhythm. That comfortable rhythm will differ between riders and only you will know what is a comfortable rhythm for you. If its too hard or too easy, too slow or too fast it is likely that you are not in the right gear and you will need to change gears. Below we will look at a guideline as to what gears you will most likely need to be in depending on the terrain and the conditions. But always remember… comfortable rhythm for YOU = the right gear  

Westcoast Wilderness Trail- John Family Inspiring Bike Touring Story

August 25, 2016
They did it! – riding the West Coast Wilderness Trail. A family of 4 bike touring with kids ages 8 and 10 years over 5 days and 4 nights! Reading stories about cycling adventures helps to connect you to other women who ride and makes you think about what you and/or your family could achieve. It’s that story of another family or women having completed a bike adventure that makes you wonder if you or your family can. A story that made you believe you can. Its that little piece of advice, or that must do, or must stay, that helps with the planning and preparation and helps make your adventure successful and special. Read the details of their bike adventure at The West Coast Wilderness Trail – Planning and Preparation Scroll through the photos in the slider of the bike trip – check out the amazing scenery, the  wonderful graded trail and the smiles. Kids highlights: The kids loved the ride. They enjoyed the motivation that having a signpost every kilometre gave them. Sam the 10 year old boy though tired at the end of each day both mentally and physically completed the ride with ease. Hollie the 8 year old girl had some ups and downs and suffered from the common complaint of the days being quite long on the bike and sore cycling legs. The third day of 37km uphill was the hardest, but it was manageable. There were a few times where Hollie needed to get off and walk her bike (because she was still coming to terms with using a geared bike). Mostly the inclines were quite gradual. Both Sam and Hollie loved the well graded single trail through the forests. Lots of magical moments whizzing through the trees. Riding the switchbacks from Cowboy Paradise down to Arahura river was really cool. The ride did get the thumbs up from the kids and they would recommend it to their friends and other families.  They thought they would do it again maybe when they are a little older. Though they now have the confidence that they can ride that distance and look forward to enjoying another long distance trail.  They enjoyed the T shirts that are available from the information centres showcasing  “we rode 139km along the Westcoast Wilderness Trail” and they even glow in the dark. Also the food rewards along the way especially Pizza from Fat Pippas Pizza in Hokitika, where we stopped to celebrate on the way home. Adults highlights: They had been told that the ride was amazing but it still exceeded their expectations. It was a great family trip with lots of diversity and history – coastal riding, alpine outlook with  snow capped mountains, rivers, beautiful reservoirs, lakes and some west coast quirkiness like staying at Cowboy Paradise. It felt like a privilege to experience this part of New Zealand from a bike. The trail was well graded and the surface made for pleasant riding and a great fit for families bike touring.

Westcoast Wilderness Trail – John Family planning and preparation.

August 25, 2016
The John Family are a family of 2 adults and 2 kids (8 year old girl and 10 year old boy).  They planned and prepared for an adventurous ride, bike touring the West Coast Wilderness Trail over 5 days and 4 nights in April 2016! To follow is the story of how they “got ready” for their ride and what you may need to think about to “get ready” for a ride like this. You can use the The Kids Guide to Riding – Planning & Preparation to help you with your preparation. Get Ready to goRide – The West Coast Wilderness Trail – Greymouth to Ross. Bike touring with Kids PLAN the destination.  They chose the 139km of the West Coast Wilderness Trail. Riding from Greymouth to Ross. Note the section from Hokitika to Ross is less developed and if this would suit your family better you could consider the 103km from Greymouth to Hokitika.  A good website to help with the planning of your trip is the westcoastwildernesstrail. Or there are some books available that include descriptions of the trail: The West Coast Wilderness Trail.   Specifically about this trail. Designed as a riders handbook and to help users to understand the rich heritage of the trail. A good percentage of the sale of each book goes towards the promotion and maintenance of the trail. Fantastic! You can download this handbook for $4.00 from this link. Alternatively if you still enjoy the printed version The Greymouth i site (at time of writing) have them available for $9.00 plus $3.00 postage. Make contact at info@westcoasttravel.co.nz to inquire about purchasing the book.  The New Zealand Cycle Trails. Nga Haerenga  by Jonathan Kennett or Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails by The Kennett Brothers.  These books also contain other New Zealand cycle trails so are good value for money if you plan on doing more than one trail. What did The John Family trip look like? Day One: The John’s drove from Nelson to Greymouth. They stopped at the Greymouth i site (which is opposite the start of the trail). They chose to bike the first 7km of the trail as their accommodation was located 7km along the trail. Ticking off the first 7km on their traveling day allowed the following day to be a little shorter to attempt to save the legs and motivation for the gentle uphill ride of Day Three. Biking – The start of the Westcoast Wilderness Trail outside the i site to their accommodation the Greymouth Seaside Top 10 holiday Park, 7km. Accommodation – stayed overnight at the Greymouth Seaside Top 10 Holiday Park.  With the trail on their doorstep it allows you to set off in good time for biking. The Greymouth Holiday Park offers storage for your car and transport/shuttle options for the trail. Car Shuttle – An adult rode back along the 7km seaside trail to collect the car (while the kids enjoyed the playground and exploring the holiday park) and drove it to the Holiday Park. The car was left in the complementary storage area

How to use your bike shifters – to change gears

August 18, 2016
What joy do you get from biking up or down a hill? Maybe it allows you simply to get to where you want to go, or it gives you a sense of achievement.  A different perspective on the place, that magical view from ‘on top of the world’ or the wind in your hair. Gears can make pedaling easier, to help you to get up that hill or rise or when riding into the wind. Or make it harder so your legs don’t spin really fast and out of control on the flat or if you need to pedal on a downward slope. Gears allow you to pedal relatively comfortably no matter the terrain or the conditions. Lets learn how to use these gears to get you to the places you want to go.  To feel the joys of biking up and down hills and into the wind.  To alter the gears on the your bike you use your shifters located on the handlebars. By using your shifters you can control and move the front and the rear derailleur. The derailleurs act as guides moving the chain onto different sized chainrings and sprockets.  Remember making it easier or harder to pedal comes down to what chain ring (the number of chain teeth) the bike chain is on at the front compared to the sprocket (and the number of chain teeth) at the rear. Chainring : Sprocket. Not sure if you fully understand then check out: Understanding your bike gears. There are few different types of shifters found on bikes. These are the most common types you will find.    

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