On a journey that will eventually take in the length of New Zealand, there are plenty of photos to be taken. Some are good, some make you laugh and some are just better deleted, but every now and then, there’s a photo that defines what this journey is all about. Those are the special ones.
On stage one, at the beginning of the journey, riding down Ninety Mile Beach at the top of New Zealand, one of those photos was taken. In it, the group of riders are lined up across the beach, riding as one towards the camera with huge smiles, enjoying the exuberance of that first day on an epic adventure.
We can now add another to the list. The MitoQ Tour of New Zealand riders have just emerged from the dense New Zealand bush, about 1000km after leaving Cape Reinga. All covered in mud, they stand arm and arm on the extraordinary Bridge to Nowhere and smile for the camera. It was a moment captured forever – of a bunch of mates loving the mud, loving life, and loving each other’s company.
It’s impossible to look at that photo and not be inspired to get out and live life - and that’s the point of the whole journey. Job done!
Stage four to nowhere
Now let’s back up and explain where the story’s at…
Stage four of the MitoQ Tour of New Zealand kicked off on November 12, 2020, right where Leg 3 finished – at the Blue Duck Station on the shores of the mighty Whanganui River.
Planned to take four days, the first part of the ride was to dive into one of New Zealand’s most remote and rugged bush regions before emerging out at the Bridge to Nowhere – an iconic and unique tourist attraction hidden deep in the rugged bushland of the Whanganui region.
“So, the Bridge to Nowhere got its name because it’s a random bridge that’s in the middle of nowhere,” said Rob Campbell, a regular member of the team. “My understanding is that after World War 1, there were a lot of soldiers who came back to New Zealand and the government gave them leases to land there. I suppose that was quite an honor to them. But the reality was that the land they were given was basically untouched, no one had been there before and it was just too tough to farm. I think the irony was that the bridge was pretty much finished as the people were packing their bags to leave.”
A time to reflect
When the guys emerged from the bush all covered in mud to find this extraordinary bridge, literally in the middle of nowhere, it became a moment to stop and reflect.
Later on, when they spent the night at the nearby Bridge to Nowhere Lodge, there was no cellphone coverage, no WIFI, and nothing to do but enjoy each other’s company. It was a time to reflect on how far they’ve come and to wallow in a moment of peace.
“I was just showing Paul [Millet – Tour leader] the map of our journey, and I just think it’s extraordinary how far we’ve come,” said Campbell. “And there have been some hard days, but there have been some really great days too.
“I just think we’re the perfect market for MitoQ. We are young at heart and we just sort of want to remember the good times. Sometimes there’s nothing quite like a 300-400-metre climb - you get to the top wondering how you’ll feel in the morning, so MitoQ is a great sponsor for us because that recovery story is really important to guys our age.”
Time to look forward too
And so, as the team emerged from the Whanganui River and followed it to the city of the same name, thoughts began to emerge of what’s coming down the road on stage five and beyond.
“Next up is the ride to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city,” said Paul Millet, the tour leader. “And what that means is that we’re coming to a major milestone – the end of our ride through the North Island. And I just can’t wait to get to Wellington and look out over the waters of the Cook Strait.
“Because on the other side of that is the South Island – one of the world’s most spectacularly beautiful mountainous regions. It’s just going to be epic.”
No doubt, that means there will be some amazing new photos to be taken. Some that will be great and some that will be not so great. But there will also be some that will make us laugh, and some that will simply inspire us even more.
Bring on stage five in February 2021. Let’s finish off the North Island!