Congratulations to Jane Carswell for setting the New Zealand S-N Record in the following categories: Female 18-49, Standard bike

Rider Report 

This was the very first ultra-distance cycling challenge for my crew and me – to ride the length of New  Zealand, from south to north. The start point was under the famous signpost at Stirling Point, Bluff  and the finish point was at the Cape Reinga Lighthouse. 

It was with some trepidation that I left the Bluff at 6:36am on the 8th of March 2024 with light rain and  strong cross winds across the Bluff isthmus, not really knowing if I could make it. This journey had  been a year in the making as in early 2023 I was at a loose end and looking for a new purpose. 

Riding the length of the country became my goal. 

I also wanted to leverage off this journey to raise awareness of mental health and in particular, the Sir  John Kirwan Foundation’s mental health in schools programme, Mitey. The ride itself became quite  metaphoric – the good times of tailwinds, and the challenges of distance, headwinds, hills and rain. I  broke these challenges down into bite size chunks of the next town, next straight, next day.  Collectively these bite size chunks aggregated into one massive challenge overcome. 

I used two standard road bikes – a Specialized Amira for night riding and hilly days and a Cervelo R3  the rest of the time. I also had an S-Works Amira back up bike which was not used. A flat battery in  the power meter and a puncture at the 1850km mark were the only mechanical issues necessitating  a bike change. 

The weather was kind to me with only one day of wet rain in the Waikato and mostly cross or tailwinds.  The exceptions to this were the famous Nor’Wester on the Canterbury Plains (200km headwind) and  gale-force winds in Otago and the Kaikoura Coast which thankfully were behind me. 

My fuel strategy was designed around my planned breaks and consisted of oats and protein powder,  sandwiches, chocolate milk, caramel slice and a jet plane hit with about an hour to go each day. A  double dose balanced dinner meal of pasta, chili beans or rice rounded out the day. My diet was predominantly vegetarian other than two small servings of smoked salmon. 

The hardest part of the ride for me was the North Island due to the hills. Going from South to North  means finishing with back-to-back climbing days when fatigue is at its highest. 

Highlights for me were seeing a pod of several hundred dolphins and a bob of baby seals frolicking in  a rock pool nursery off the Kaikoura Coast. The ride was also a catalyst for people I met along the way  to share their own experiences with mental health challenges. 

From the file of unusual events along the way were a zoom job interview 15 minutes after arriving in  Whanganui, a rogue Honda hubcap from a car that almost took out my front wheel, a crew member’s  phone Oncology consultation in the middle of the North Island where there was little cell phone  coverage, and a possum with a death wish that ran out in front of me in the dark just 100km from the  finish. 

I arrived at the Cape Reinga Lighthouse at 12:34 pm on the 18th of March 2024 taking 10 days, 5 hours, and 58 minutes to complete the journey. 

Jane Carswell