Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Trio share epic Tour Aotearoa cycling adventure

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From left, 2016 Tour Aotearoa competitors Dr Phil Shoemack, Nick Roozenburg and Bruce Galloway.
From left, 2016 Tour Aotearoa competitors Dr Phil Shoemack, Nick Roozenburg and Bruce Galloway.

The Bay's chief medical officer of health Phil Shoemack spends his days encouraging people to maintain a healthy life " and the avid cyclist definitely practises what he preaches.

Dr Shoemack regularly takes off on cycling tours and he and two Tauranga mates, Bruce Galloway, deputy chairman of Bay of Plenty Community Trails Trust and Nick Roozenburg, will be sharing their latest adventure during a talk on Wednesday.

In February and March this year the trio participated in Tour Aotearoa " an epic 3000km, sometimes gruelling brevet from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Tour Aotearoa, aimed at showcasing the country's cycle trails, saw 250 competitors take to the startline on February 21 with the task of finishing in less than 30 days.

Dr Shoemack said competitors wore GPS tracking devices and had to take photographs of certain spots they visited along the journey.

There was no entry fee or prizes handed out but competitors were asked to donate $100 to their chosen charity.

Dr Shoemack and his teammates finished in 25 days, three days ahead of the 28-day target they set themselves.

The fastest competitors finished in 11 days, which meant they must have cycled through the night, he said.

Dr Shoemack said Tour Aotearoa was an "amazing" unforgettable event, which attracted a number of overseas competitors.

"Yes it was gruelling in parts, but you get to see some awesome sights that you could never see or even get to travelling by car."

Dr Shoemack said he loved the accessibility and freedom cycling gave him.

"Cycling ticks all the boxes as far as I'm concerned.

"I think we need to do better to build more cycle trails not just out in the countryside but in the city to encourage people to get more active.

"I'm not saying people need to get on their bike and cycle the whole country but just getting more people to start to bike to work would be a good start."

Dr Shoemack said cycling became a huge passion after doing his first bike tour from Taupo to Taihape at age 12 and he has never looked back.

For the past 25 years, the 60-year-old has headed off for a week every year with a few mates on a cycling tour somewhere in the North Island.

Figures collected by Nielsen research earlier this year showed nationally 407,000 people would take up cycling by the middle of this year, of which 14,000 lived in Tauranga.

Tour Aotearoa organiser Jonathan Kennett, who is NZ National Cycles Trails manager for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is planning a similar event in 2018.

Hear the story:

* Where: Bay of Plenty Polytechnic's Bongard Centre

* When: Wednesday, 6.30pm

* Cost: Gold coin donation

- Bay of Plenty Times

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