The 5 Passes Tour is as close as most of us will ever get to living like a pro cyclist. The 4-day race is run like a grand tour, with sprint points and an array of time trials: climbing, individual, and team. Plus, a 20-person support crew caters to every need, on and off the course. The only thing you need to do is show up and ride.
No need to bring your own domestiques. Solo riders are matched with others of similar standing to form teams.
Where the New Zealand race veers from the Tour de France is that every day is divided into multiple stages, totaling 11 throughout the full event. Though there’s not a designated rest between stages, riders in the Kiwi classic take very civilized, mid-ride breaks for lunch and coffee.
Of the eponymous five passes in the countryside outside Christchurch, most are rolling hills punctuated by a few solid, yet short, pitches for good measure. Arthurs’ Pass, on Day 3, brings the suffering with 20 miles (32 Km) of nearly constant uphill and 2,519 feet elevation gain.