Over 13 gruelling days in the depths of winter, Cameron Nicholls of Bikechaser rode the entire lenght of New Zealand to raise money for CanTeen. In addition to supporting his journey, we leant him a Tudor Pelagos LHD to wear for the duration of the ride. Here is his story in his own words:
If you’re reading this post there’s a fair chance you like high quality watches. Or at the very least, you’re contemplating a first buying decision.
While I could always appreciate the reasons why these beautifully handcrafted pieces of jewellery led to obsessions I’ve never really understood why.
When speaking with old school friend and Watches Of Switzerland Managing Director, Sam van der Griend, about my journey down the length of New Zealand to raise funds and awareness for young people living with cancer (via CanTeen Australia and New Zealand), he immediately was on board.
As part of the sponsorship arrangement I would be wearing a Tudor Pelagos throughout my journey. Given its alignment with active people; it’s ability to endure snow, rain and sub-zero conditions; and a marketing slogan #borntodare, it was a fitting watch for me to wear during my 13 day adventure.
The agility of the TUDOR
I’d never really worn a watch during physical activity, let alone a 2,336 km 13-day marathon down the guts of a country. Would I find this sturdy watch distracting, I pondered?
The winding crown of the Tudor was on the opposite side to what is customary - as originally intended for left handed navy divers. I purposely wore the Tudor on his left hand, as normal, allowing me to avoid ‘crown bite’ normally associated with the bike riding posture.
In addition, the titanium bracelet features a steel folding clasp with a unique auto-adjustable spring mechanism, developed and patented by TUDOR, according to their website. The technical system allows the bracelet to adjust to the wrist according to different pressures it might confront. While this feature is ultimately designed for diving, this agile capability was well aligned to helping me absorb many of the bumps and lumps I would encounter on the coarse and gritty roads of the South Island of New Zealand.
Wearing the TUDOR for the first time
Following my fitting by Watches of Switzerland, I still had another week or so of solid training before starting my NZ adventure so I decided to train with the TUDOR in order to get used to it.
Although before I even had the chance to personally get acquainted with this new journey companion I was stopped by someone in my local bike shop, Hampton Cycles. “I love that watch you’re wearing”, the stranger exclaimed.
I accepted the compliment and quickly recognised that the watch enthusiast community is alive and well.
I don’t know whether it was the acknowledgement from a complete stranger on the TUDOR’S craftsmanship or the fact it seemed to enhance my New Zealand ensemble, but this watch felt right at home on my left wrist from the very first ride. In fact, I noticed the feel of it less while riding than I did day-to-day off the bike.
How could this be, I pondered.
2,336 km / 13 days / 89 hours later…
The hands of the Pelagos, particularly the hour hand with its characteristic square tip, allowed me to distinguish it from the minute hand, at a very quick glance. Looking this feature up on the TUDOR website, it is known in collectors’ circles as “snowflake”.
Riding on highways at times with large logging trucks making their presence felt, my need to keep my focus and eyes forward at all times was heightened. Yet with 8 hours a day of saddle time I started looking for things to do. Particularly after the excitement of starting the adventure had worn off, only a few hours into my 89 hours of saddle time over 13 days.
Yes, there was the scenery, but there were also days on dark overcast clouds, unleashing their extremities at times. Over the course of my journey I took the TUDOR through relentless rain on 3 days; hail on one afternoon; and snow on a – 8 degree morning descending from the Crown Ranges into Queenstown.
During my long days in the saddle the TUDOR snowflake was a key player in a game I had created.
Attached to my bike sat a Wahoo bike computer. After a few days of warming into my journey I decided to leave the Wahoo screen on map mode. Similar to a GSP system in a car, although more simplified and a much smaller screen. In the corner of the screen I could see my speed. And that was it.
If I flicked back to the other/main screen, I could see speed, heart rate, time of day, time elapsed, and distance travelled. I didn’t want to see that screen all day long. It was a little demoralising seeing “distance travelled” when you’re less than 100km into a 200km + day.
The game I played was a reward style scenario. The TUDOR time, became my reward.
For example, I would quickly glace at the TUDOR when I could hear nothing coming from behind. Typically, in 30 minute increments, I would be allowed to do something. That something might be drinking from my water bottles, taking a snack out of my rear pocket, or getting out of the saddle to stretch the legs. Thus, the TUDOR become an instrumental tool in my day.
The TUDOR also became my constant reminder of why I was cycling the length of New Zealand. The greater purpose was about raising funds and awareness for you people living with cancer via CanTeen New Zealand and Australia.
I’d set an itinerary; engaged organisations and partners all based around a specific plan. I was locked in and committed to it. I couldn’t pause for a day, or even what became a few minutes, given the limited winter daylight and long days in the saddle.
On the few occasions I did end up riding well into the dark. With long days and unplanned mechanical stops, it was hard to avoid.
The luminous markers on the TUDOR provided additional comfort to what were rather distressing situations. Riding on dark roads in the city – that’s ok. Riding on unfamiliar pitch-black country roads, with cars and trucks zooming past at 100 km per hour, that’s distressing. While the lights on my bike enabled guidance and clear vision, the aqua coloured markers on the TUDOR provided a warming glow to my immediate environment.
Ultimately, the elegant TUDOR on my left wrist became an instrumental tool in keeping me focused on getting to Bluff, hour by hour and day by day. It was like the old sporting cliché i.e. one opponent at a time. I was one hour at a time. I never wanted to think too far ahead with the TUDOR keeping me present.
Watches of Switzerland were very proud to support Cameron and Bikechaser on this very worthy endevour. Check out Bikechaser here and see our range of Tudor Watches here.