23rd July 2023
The TTW or the Tour Te Waipounamu has a reputation of being one of the hardest self-supported bikepacking races in the world, with entry strictly limited to the best multi-day mountain bikers – individuals who have proven themselves across multiple bikepacking races and endurance events, racers who can go long and hard over difficult terrain, the hardest of the hard, the toughest of the tough, the strongest of the strong. And then there’s me! I applied for the TTW not expecting to get a place. Not really. Not against all those other amazing riders out there. There are countless mountain bikers who are stronger, faster, younger, fitter than me. Let’s face it, I’m an almost-50-year-old mother of two. I’m a writer. I’m the short, skinny, nerdy kid who never got picked for sports teams at school. I’ve only ever ridden two bikepacking events, one of which I dropped out of after three days due to hand injuries. I’m total chicken-shit on my mountain bike, I can’t even make it around my local track without stopping and walking the tricky bits. I’ve only ever entered one bike race. And yet here I am, preparing to face the start line of one of the hardest bike-packing races in the world. A race that only fifteen women have ever finished. What could possibly go wrong?