Tour de Coromandel - a great day out for Bike Mercury Bay cyclists

19 Oct 2021

Tour de Coromandel - a great day out for Bike Mercury Bay cyclists

It was smiles all round as around 40 Bike Mercury Bay (BMB) cyclists and some visitors from Morrinsville completed the inaugural Tour de Coromandel cycle ride last Saturday.

Riders were blessed with near perfect conditions on the day, which was a big change from the high winds and generally unsettled weather in the days leading up to the event. 

There were no winners and no prizes on offer once the bikes were finally parked up. The Tour de Coromandel was all about bringing together all the various disciplines that sit under the BMB umbrella. It’s a wide reaching group of individuals and includes cyclists looking for a mere social outing to the more competitive and adventurous ones who regularly ride the roads and mountain bike trails around the wider Mercury Bay area. 

To accommodate the varying differences in fitness levels, abilities and aspirations, the Tour de Coromandel was split into four separate group rides with each individual group allocated a nearby town for riders to start from, with all riders eventually crossing the same finish line in Whitianga.  Each group was also assigned a group leader/s to help organise transport to the various starting locations and to also make sure everyone got home safe and sound. 

The various rides were each given a unique name, the C50 starting from Tairua, the C1 starting from the outskirts of Thames and the Dirty C which started from the same place as the C1, but headed in the opposite direction and incorporated the challenging gravel road between Tapu and Coroglen. Approximate distances back to basecamp were 50km, 100km and 70km respectively.

Then there was also the C2. It started from Whitianga and headed north in an anticlockwise direction with riders arriving back in Whitianga some 200km and many hours later. Along the way, there was an elevation gain of around 2,650 metres with riders ascending some of the Coromandel’s toughest hills, including Whangapoua, Manaia and Kereta. The good part was looking down on some of the most amazing coastal views during the grind up and once reaching the top of each climb.

“What a great day to ride a bike, the picture postcard views were amazing and well worth the effort,” said seasoned endurance rider and Whitianga holiday home owner, Grimmy Martin. He, along with locals, Clive Barriball and fitness freak Grant McDonald, did a great job in ensuring everyone in their group got home in one piece. 

“It was a day when nobody was left behind for long,” said Grant. “When the slower riders dropped off, there was always somebody there to provide encouragement.”

Riders were given a free hand to select a ride that best suited them while the e-bikers had to make a call based on their own abilities combined with how much they were dependant on some battery assistance along the way. 

Long-time local cyclist, Bryan Layton was called in to help with the pre-ride preparation and on-the -day assistance for those who rode the C50. “They were mainly riders who usually ride the flat roads around Whitianga and Purangi, so their efforts to step out of their comfort zones and tackle the climb out of Tairua right from the start was very impressive,” Bryan said. “Former Olympic cyclist and Whitianga local, Garry Bell, was a true inspiration to us all. He has gone through some tough times of late and to see him back on a stock standard road bike and finishing this ride almost defies belief. Garry achieved so much in his days as an elite New Zealand cyclist, but this achievement must be right up there for him personally and his family. The man continues to provide inspiration to us all.”   

Geoff Balme led home the locals in the C1 tagging onto the C2 riders as they passed through the outskirts of Thames and offering much needed support to those with tired legs and still some 100km ahead of them.

Addicted mountain bikers, John Booker, Kevin Purcell and Rik Walkley, took charge of the Dirty C group making sure the least experienced all came through their ride unscathed and with a huge sense of satisfaction. 

Grimmy Martin and his wife, Sharon, hosted the after-ride function which capped off a brilliant day and left local cyclists feeling much more united and pleased to be part of the overall Bike Mercury Bay cycling team. It was certainly mission accomplished in more ways than one. 

Pictured - Some of the Bike Mercury Bay members who participated in the Tour de Coromandel before the start of their C50 race in Tairua last Saturday.