One look at this TDA 2013 rider and one thing is clear: this ain’t his first rodeo. Meet John Faulkner.
A life-long athlete and accomplished ultra-marathon runner, it is no surprise to find John’s name near the top of the race results each and every day on tour. John’s life as a runner was simple; find a mountain, run to the top and run back down again. Simple didn’t ever mean easy, as these mountain tops totaled up to 70kms for a round trip at times. Running up to 150kms/week at the peak of his training is a testament to the volume of physical exertion he is acclimatized to and perhaps made joining the TDA seem not so out-of-this-world.
In 2007, inspired by a curve ball in life, John decided to take up cycling. Not being the type to take things lightly, he needed a lofty goal. For his first attempt at a bike race, starting out in the Masters category, he signed himself up for Paris to Dakar. If it’s any testament to Johns’ humble spirit, in asking him how he did, he simply responded, “quite well”, which, through a series of prodding questions, I finally managed to discover that he in fact won the race. Feeling quite chuffed with himself, he decided to stick to it. TDA had been on his radar for years and at last in 2013 everything came together for him to join us all the way from Cairo to Cape Town.
Although anyone can argue that there is no perfect bicycle for this expedition, John’s bike is about as close as you can get. A friend and bike shop owner back home in New Zealand jumped at the opportunity to design the perfect ride. John is riding a carbon Specialized Stump Jumper with a carbon 29er fork, drop bars, XTR components, a beautiful set of wheels spinning on hope hubs and a whole range of tires for the wide variety of road conditions we face. Specialized Armadillo Captains, Schwalbe Duranos and a set of Marathon Plus tires have taken him this far. When asking John what he would change about his ride, he admits it’s not the perfect bike for the paved sections but for a trip like this, he wouldn’t change a thing.