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There’s no going to the adventure; the adventure is always with you!” - Kate.
In other words, backpacking via your nimble two-wheeled friend, a bike (whether it’s a hardtail, push or e-bike). Overnight bike trips increased in popularity for several reasons. “Freedom, exploration, travel, getting back to basics, and reconnecting to nature," to name a few.
For Kate, bikepacking became the adventure of a lifetime.
Now Kate is a seasoned mountain biker with several trips under her belt. But she wasn’t always rooted in the biking world.
"It's important to share with people if you’re perceived as an outdoorsy person to remind them that it wasn’t always like this. For example, I haven’t always been into biking. In fact, I haven’t always been an outdoorsy person...at all.”Kate
Kate never described herself as someone innately comfortable in the outdoors. Even with her biking, she battles misconceptions about “being hardcore."
The start of her adult outdoor lifestyle was perhaps the antithesis of “hardcore.”
Walking the Oxfam Trail Walker.
But after a taste of the outdoors, Kate went from “woah to go...with no experience at all.” With a borrowed road bike and only two practice swims, Kate put the try in triathlon, completing the Scorching Bay Half Ironman.
"I just think trying is a big part of your outdoor experience, adventure and what it means to you."
For the Whanganui native, a serious bike voyage was always an enticing idea.
But she would hit the brakes when doubt crept in.
"I thought that's the kind of thing you do as a couple...but finally, I put my foot down and thought I have to do this for myself."
Before fear could stop her, Kate bought a one-way ticket to Bluff. With little time (and preparation), Kate planned to bike from the South Island’s lowest point, Bluff, back to her parent's home in the heart of the North Island, Taupō. For her first solo trip, Kate aimed to complete more than half of the longest bikepacking trail in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
While waiting by the flight gate, Kate learned from the university of YouTube how to fix chain breaks and maintain her bare essentials.
Traversing the popular biking route, Tour Aotearoa, Kate completed two-thirds of the route riding over 2000kms in 30 days Kate. Taking in several of Aotearoa’s Great Rides over the course, including Around the Mountains, West Coast Wilderness, Coppermine and the Remutaka cycle trails.
"A lot of people have said to me, ‘Oh, I would love to do something like that, but I don’t have the knowledge, or I don’t know how to fix my bike if it breaks or I need to do it with other people'...I didn’t know how to do any of that either! I was just going to figure it out. And literally, I had the best adventure of my life.”Kate
Shortly after the momentum of her trip from Bluff to Taupō, life in lockdown began.
During those months, like many around Aotearoa, Kate reconnected with the outdoors, touring the Huka Trails and Craters MTB Park with her father. It became Kate’s second nature to flow through the Great Lake Trails.
"Being able to still be close to nature via my bike or walking, I felt privileged. I enjoyed just spending quality time outdoors."
Called to re-create her adventures with other people, Kate wanted to do more.
So, after alert levels lowered, she finagled her friends (some who’d never mountain biked before) to ride the Timber Trail, a 2-day 85km Grade 2 trail in the Pureora Forest Park. A quick mountain bike lesson and pep talk were all her group needed. “Everyone was really stoked. You got (to the trail’s end) off your own steam. Everyone was amazed to have gone that 85km in that timeframe.”
"I love to try and normalise fear. I told my friends, ‘Hey, it's okay. I wasn’t sure about this hill when I first went down it, and I fell over a few times. And if you do that or want to get off and walk, that’s totally fine.’ No pressure, just have a go at it!’"
The Timber Trail trip was the catalyst for Kate to share her love of adventure on a much grander scale.
Kate’s latest project is The Rebel Ride, the first self-guided, self-supported bikepacking adventure for women in Aotearoa.
"I wanted this idea of The Rebel Ride to make it more accessible, where you could break it up and do it at your own speed. I didn't want anyone to be intimidated and wanted to inspire more women to try bikepacking."Kate
The event travels along two of Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail's Great Rides. It starts in Kirikiriroa, the course snakes along the Te Awa River Ride into the Waikato River Trails and finishes at the picturesque Great Lake Trails in Taupō.
"I had such an amazing experience when I did my ride. I want to show people (the Great Rides of New Zealand) because there's so much away from the road that you can experience. It's where New Zealand’s real beauty is at!” - Kate.
Unlike more endurance-style races, The Rebel Ride encourages bikers to start at their own pace, choosing the distance they bike each day. The solo female riders bring their own supplies and select their accommodation (tenting, camping, or lodge) along the route.
And the ultimate goal is to finish together in Taupō on the Great Lake Trails on Sunday, 11 December, between 3.00 pm and 5.00 pm. This alternative timeline permits every type of rider to celebrate with their community at the perfect “finish line.”
"That's a big driver for me. It's not about the fastest. It's about what achievement means to you." That sentiment definitely reflected Kate's journey into outdoor adventures and bikepacking.
“Adventure with your bike. And adventure is what adventure is to you, not to what anyone else says.”
For more information about The Rebel Ride, please visit here
For more resources on bikepacking, learn more here >
Stay tuned and sign up below for our biking newsletter to receive Part 2, where we will share some amazing short grinds to practice and some epic bikepacking adventures in the Taupō region!
Celebrate your love of riding this Saturday, 7 May 2022 on the fifth annual International Women's Mountain Biking Day with these local legends and Taupō trails.