2019 done and dusted

Just like that our current cycle tour finishes, and it is 2020 with the blink of an eye.

Leaving Barry and Kerry early (to minimise NYE traffic) we headed out on 5 km of gravel road, climbing 100 metres. I stayed upright. Miracle number 1.

The traffic was minimal on the State Highway and only 18 degrees, nice climbing weather. The first climb was only a few km after leaving the gravel.

It was very overcast making sombre photos.

Refuelling with a shared lasagne at DD’s and it was outer Auckland and our North Shore destination arriving back at 1.30 pm.

It was straight into cleaning and stripping down the bikes ready to transport them home to Tasmania.

Another great tour concluded. A short one at over 800 km and over 9000 metres climbing, but we are both due back at work Jan 2nd.

A phenomenal cycling year that saw me amass over 43,000 km for 2019 alone, moving into 8th position overall out of over one million zwifters globally, leading female and scheduled to be the first female to attain 100,000 km globally ( June if all goes well).

I also broke the Zwift world record for 24 hours riding (women) with an 836.1 km ride in August.

I continue to be a passionate advocate for ‘older’ riders, in the face of being told I am ‘too old’. Zwift management has lost its marbles politically speaking with so called leaders/ambassadors in Australia who are more interested in their take home dollars than true advocacy and ambassadorship, engagement and motivation.

On the road we achieved a huge 3,300 km and 8 countries touring in May, facing challenges including central Europe’s wettest spring in 30 years.

2020 will be huge. Aside my 100,000 km goal I have been appointed as a ride leader and ambassador for Italy Bike Tours which will see me at the Giro d’Italia supporting riders, as best I can. This is a huge acknowledgement for what I do in encouraging others to challenge themselves, and supporting riders achieve their goals.

I have made so many wonderful friends through cycling around the world, and this year caught up with them in the Czech Republic and New Zealand.

Last night we were with a few of them in Auckland. Suzanne, Deb and Gervase are in the first photo, John, Vic and Tony in the second.

I am forever thankful for my cycling extended family, those who accept me as I am, encourage and support. You all know who you are….but in particular Gervase for being my sage and Mirek for being my little brother.

To Tony for his boots and all attitude to my crazy ideas, love and hugs.

So 2019 – behind me now!

The Knights who say Ni!

We paid a lot of money today to see something special, very special. There was lots of shrubbery too, so that makes it expensive shrubbery, enough to satisfy the Knights who say Ni.

I’ve always wanted a reference to Monty Python and as loose and flimsy as it is, we did visit the Poor Knights Islands today, there was shrubbery, but terribly inaccessible at that.

These world renowned islands are 24 km off the Tutukaka Coast and feature protected marine and island reserves.

Captain Cook first sighted the islands in 1769 and named them such, but unknown why. Two theories exist.

The first one is that at a distance, the shape of the islands look like a poor knight burial. On the battlefield the slain Knights were laid to rest with their shield on their chest, and a light covering of dirt.

You can see that in the photo below….head, chest with shield and feet.

The second theory relates to the English delicacy, Poor Knights Pudding. Sailors would leave their home port with plenty of bread. After some time at sea, the bread would be mouldy. Instead of feeding it to the fish, they caked it in egg and cooked it, adding raspberry jam to the top. It was suggested that as Cook first saw the islands with the Kiwi Christmas tree in flower, the green shrubbery with bright red flowers reminded him of the dessert he would have frequently eaten onboard.

This is an example of the tree from elsewhere as they have just finished flowering on the Poor Knights Islands. So the green shrubbery (mould) and red flowers (raspberry jam).

I think I prefer the first theory!

Before we headed out to the boat, we walked to the marina from our accomodation…no mean feat with the terribly steep hills.

We saw this sign!

The marina was calm.

We were first on board. Cyclist tan marks already! Noice!

I managed to be one of the first into the water, Complete with wetsuit, flippers and snorkel. I headed straight over to this cave, as the skipper told us you could swim through the narrow entrance and it then opened up once inside.

It was very dark in there, but the highlight is when you then snorkel out. The underwater light as you snorkel to the opening is incredible, with the most amazing schools of fish hovering around the entrance.

It was entrancing!

Not all snorkelled, as there were plenty of aquatic options.

We spent a wonderful few hours in this magical spot. Beneath the ocean surface there is spectacular water clarity and warm subtropical currents providing a rich, varied and abundant sea life. Steep cliffs plummet 100 metres below sea level, broken only by caves, archways and fissures that are habitats for over 125 species of fish, soft corals, sponges, vibrant anemones, kelp, forest, stingrays and myriad of other life forms. Jacques Cousteau has ranked this spot in the world top 10 diving locations.

The islands also have a rich cultural history and Ngatiwai, who used to reside on the island, are now the kaitiaki (traditional guardians) of a sacred covenant placed on the islands by the ringa kaha (chief) Te Tatua in 1822. This tapu was placed following the massacre of his people while he and his warriors were absent. It also covers the surrounding waters because some of the occupants had jumped from the cliffs to avoid being taken prisoner by the invaders. Landing on the islands is prohibited.

Before heading back to Tutukaka we cruised around a few of the islands and the skipper told us we would be entering the largest sea cave in the world by volume. Rikoriko Cave measures 130 by 80 metres with a ceiling height of 35 metres.

The opening does not look that big though…

The top of the boat in the cave.

The acoustics are quite amazing. Concerts have been performed including Crowded House.

Love this view from inside looking out.

This arch is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

We motored through it. So the reverse view…

The end of a perfect day….on Perfect Day (Dive Tutukaka). I can highly recommend this trip. It is not cheap ($450 NZ for two) but certainly memorable.

Teaching the old dog, new tricks!

Let’s go back in time – not that long ago – to May 2018.  I was in Europe having spent a week in the Czech Republic with my good friend Mirek and his family – then transferred to Bern in Switzerland for the wedding of my son Ben to Sharon.

In between I managed to break a couple of ribs and tried to keep that relatively quiet despite the ‘discomfort’.  I was often asked why – well, I did not want the travel insurance company telling me I could not keep riding!  I am a bit stubborn at times!

After Ben’s wedding, I caught a train to Zurich to meet up with Aussie riding buddy Geoff.  We then rode to Asolo in the Venetian region of northern Italy, to hook up with Italy Bike Tours “last 12 days” of the Giro d’Italia.

It was an incredible 12 days spent in a variety of regions of northern Italy – watching incredible racing – riding some beautiful areas.

Much to my astonishment, I was contacted by Clive Marshall, Italy Bike Tours owner a fortnight ago asking me if I would consider being a support leader and ambassador for the 2020 Giro – I was like “say what?”……I re-read the email, thinking I must have misunderstood – then I exhaled and said “Oh my goodness” to Tony!

One issue was that we were already committed (airfares paid) to fly to London in May – but it did not take much discussion to change airfares despite an additional $850 in charges to do so!  That is another story re airline price gouging!

So we are off to the Giro d’Italia 2020!!  Exciting – you bet!!

This time I will be in a different role…not as a guest, but a support rider-leader for the other guests. First time role for me, but I am confident that I can do this and delighted that Clive has that confidence in me, as I will be a week or two short of my 58th birthday by then. So guess I will be the old granny learning new tricks.

Fantastic that age is not seen as a barrier in this company, as I have had experiences more recently where age is perceived as a barrier to being an ambassador. I think it is an advantage in supporting a certain genre of riders.

The Giro is one big party of fist pumping, adrenaline surged fun, enjoyed by all ages!

So what happened in 2018 that makes me want to return? The easier and cheaper option would have been to undertake the self supported cycle tour planned.

Is it the fantastic support team?

Daniele, the lead rider, former pro, winner of a stage of the Vuelta.
Stephano, photographer
Roberto and Clive
John Lee Augustyn, former pro with Sky
Marco, former tour director who takes good care of the non riders

Is it the food?

Well this was en route to Italy…think this is in the Dolomites. Makes me laugh still! Could not resist throwing it in.
The amazing aspect of this meal is that we are literally 10 metres from the criterium course.


The gelato is very good! This is Erin enjoying hers, leaning on a tour, as you do! Looks like a big wine bottle on top, yes we visited a vineyard a few days before in the Franciacorta region. Prosecco tour 2020.

Is it the decorated villages and towns that the Giro passes through?


Is it the people you bump into on Monte Zoncolon?


This is Chris, fellow guest like myself, having a nap waiting for the race to arrive up Monte Zoncolon.
Josie Dow, Tasmanian that I knew from my kids swimming days. Just happened to see her climbing up Monte Zoncolon and called out to her. Great place to catch up, but how amazing to see her, picking her out from the thousands heading up the mountain.
This guy came prepared! This is about 6 km up Monte Zoncolon and he carried his painting gear up.

Is it the mountains?




Lake Garda
Lake Garda
Yep I rode up there!
Looking down from Colla della Finestre
Colla della Finestre
Matterhorn, viewed from Cervinia. This was a magical town and climb, ending up in a valley with mountains on three sides.

Is it the people you meet?

Luke ( ex pat Aussie living Singapore) and Peter (Australia)
Geoff (Australia)
Chris (USA)
Another Tasmanian I bumped into that I knew….Kim
Daniele’s son with his first bike
Getting ready to roll
Visiting a very old winery

Is it the people you watch?

Missing some gear …jersey, helmet, gloves….steering interesting but he’s having fun.
These two guys were waiting for the race and I loved watching them…they were animated and passionate.
Passionate! This guy flew over from Colombia to watch the Giro. He knew all the Colombians on tour and shouted and cheered as they made their way to the top of the climb. We are sitting up under the trees with a birds eye view to our left and saw close hand Froome’s incredible victory.

Is it the rides we did including some personal challenges and achievements?




Is it chillaxing?

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Aperol spritz, Rome

Or is it that race?

Looks to me like this rider smiled at my camera.
This is Chris Froome, just metres from an extraordinary win, taking the Maglia Rosa from Simon Yates, setting himself up to win the Giro d’Italia 2018.
Very forlorn Aussie team this day, waiting for a dejected Simon Yates.


Well, it is a combination of all of the above!  The Italians are so passionate about the Giro d’Italia – they love cycling – and as the riders come into the towns, the hairs on your arm lift!

The undoubted highlight for me was successfully climbing to the top of Colla della Finestre which included 8 km of sludgy ‘gravel’ – and then watching Christopher Froome smash himself up there the next day, having made a solo break with 80 km to go – then we dashed out to secure prime viewing positions at the top of Bardonnechia waiting for him to arrive – and what an arrival it was!

Giro d’Italia 2020 promises to be a beauty – there are the lakes including Como and Garda.  Climbs including Passo Gavia and Passo Stelvio.  Towns including Milano.  The historical country of San Marino.

You want more?  Dolomites, Alps, Piemonte – prosecco, Pantani museum and me!

Memories are truly forever – well unless you get Alzheimer’s!