Monthly Archives: November 2016

Day 11: Thursday 24 Nov – Porangahau to Eketahuna

133km today – 1850 meters climbing, 1540 k down

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Today’s ride

Another big day of riding, but thankfully it’s not as hot as yesterday. No shops to buy a snack or a drink until about 70km so I preloaded on water and made a sandwich.

The first 5 km was flat so I had some time to get the legs warmed up, then up a hill but thankfully not the one we rode down yesterday.

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Back over the river out of camp (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Some of the hills were pretty steep. As I was climbing up one of them I thought to my self that although I had made a sandwich, I didn’t remember actually packing it into my bike pack. I got to the top of the hill and got off my bike to check. Drat! I had left it behind, plus I ate my emergency snack the other day and have not yet replaced it! So I was now worried about how long it will take to get to 70 km and how much climbing there would be, as I am seriously worried about bonking (a riders term for completely running out of energy due to lack of food).

Then I thought”Yay the 2nd truck has not yet gone past, I may be able to get something off that”. Less than 2 minutes later the truck came past so I did a thumbs down which signals them to stop. Thumbs up means you’re ok and they go past. Luckily they had a few bananas so they gave me one.

Off I went, much more happy, and ate the banana about 10km.

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Obligatory tourist photo with the world’s longest place name

The day was nice and warm, not much wind, with a few climbs. There was one quite big descent and I could see a big climb looming, but then yay there was a flag and we took the road to the left. A really nice gradual downhill of about 10 km following a river bed.

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Some downhill ahead, yippee (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I stopped at 70 km at the shop and had an ice cream: pecan nut and caramel. It was a bit sweet but it tasted really good. Then I headed off again.

The day wore on and the legs were getting tired. The last couple of hills I got off and walked a bit.

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Coming down after another climb

We finally arrived in Eketahuna. Never did I imagine I would be thrilled to arrived in Eketahuna, but thrilled I was.

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Eketahuna, I love you.

We stopped at the Eketahuna Pub after 9 1/2 hours on the bike – that cold beer tasted really good. Then 2km to camp.

The camp was surprisingly busy with motor homes, and more arrived after we got there.
I got the tent up, had a shower, and then it was dinner time. Dinner was chicken casserole -the chicken was really tender and tasty, with white rice, salad and caramelised  pumpkin with feta sprinkled on top. Michele and Tony shared a bottle of Moana Park Merlot with us.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is not looking great: rain plus gale force winds. We are staying at a Top Ten so I rang and booked a cabin.

It took awhile to get to sleep, as unsurprisingly the other camp residents weren’t planning to go to bed at 7:30pm! But I was quite happy after a big day dozing in my sleeping bag, listening to music on the iPod.

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Eketahuna (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Day 10: Wednesday 23 Nov, Napier to Porangahau

Riding 120km – climbing 1150 meters, down 1050 meters

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Next stage into Wellington!

It was very warm today and sunny, with no wind first thing. We started off with an amazing breakfast cooked at the motel. As they don’t have a restaurant it was in the conference room. The chef and owner must have taken seriously that we ate a lot, as there was stacks of cereal and cooked food.

We have three new riders joining us for this section. TDA had an offer that people could do a section for free if they were interested to see what a TDA ride would be like. Joining us are Tim and his dad Steve. Tim has ridden with TDA before but is keeping his dad company, plus Veronica from Auckland.

Veronica sat at breakfast with Sue and I, asking lots of questions about TDA and the ride, and then wanted to know about other rides we had done. Once she heard we had done the South American ride she wanted to know all about it. I was trying to be polite but I was also trying to eat breakfast and get away on the bike before it got too hot out there.  So in answer to her question “How was it?”, my informative response was “Good” whilst shoving more food into my mouth. “What was good?” she asked. “Um, everything” I said.

I find it’s really hard to sum up the South American ride in a few words, especially when I’m not interested in having the conversation in the first place. However Veronica did not pick up on my lack of interest in a conversation, and kept on asking questions. Thankfully it turns out I could ride faster than her so was able to evade any further questioning for the day. (By the end of the four days I had nicknamed her the wasp, as she kept coming at you with questions about everything).

We set out in the lovely sun, the first 8 km was bike trails. There are so many bike paths here leading off in all directions. Whilst we were on the winery tour yesterday a number of people arrived on bikes following bike trails to get there.

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Departing Napier on the coastal path

We rode on back roads from Napier all the way to Waipawa. It was really nice to be away from the traffic.

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A traffic jam on New Zealand back roads (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I stopped in Waipawa for a drink . It was so hot I had already drunk both bottles of water. The cafe was happy for me to fill up my water bottles there.

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Home town in sight!

From Waipawa to Waipukurau we were on the main state highway which was not fun, so I was pleased to turn off to Porangahau. It was a nice country road with rolling hills, but then off course a gravel road thrown in, just because there is one. On the way I passed a sign for “Ugly Hills Road”, someone has a sense of humour and am only surprised TDA didn’t send us up it.

Christian (TDA) had said at the lunch stop that it’s pretty windy up on the gravel track so you can take the road instead, it’s an extra 11km. We decided to take the gravel road, well it was certainly steep, and the gravel was so thick in places you had to get off and walk. At the top it was so windy I was pushed off the bike twice, so I walked a bit. At the end of the gravel was a really steep tarmac road downhill. I was hoping that we would not have to ride up it in the morning.

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Old Hill Road, with gale force NW’er, cycling on gravel

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View from the gravel track (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Once I got down the hill it was just 5km on the flat to camp. When we got there we were surprised to see a rider who is slower than us, and who was at the lunch truck when we were there, was at camp already. I said “It must have been a pretty good 11km stretch of road” and she told us Christian had it wrong, it wasn’t an extra 11km it was 11km instead of 8km so it was only 3km more. If I had known that I would have certainly have taken the road!

It was not a bad camp spot, it was sheltered, no shops or wifi but good showers.

It was about 4pm by the time I got to camp so I had a wee doze once I had put up my tent. That night for dinner we had pork chops, which the chef had managed to cook for nearly 30 people and were still tender, plus potato with rosemary in it and salad. We shared a bottle of Moana Malbeck Merlot with Michelle and Tony.

I was in my tent, tucked up in my sleeping bag, eyes closed, by 7:30pm.

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Looking down onto Porangahau (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

 

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Day 9: Tuesday 22 Nov, Rest day in Napier

It was good to wake up not having to ride, but I was still awake at 6am. I made a cup of tea and spent a couple of hours catching up with the blog and emails.

Next off into town – a 5 minute walk – for breakfast and to do the laundry. Had breakfast at a very nice place called the Emporium Eatery part of the Masonic Hotel, the same place we had a beer last night.

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Napier CBD

There is a cruise ship in town, the Emerald Princess, so heaps of tourists. Beautiful weather, lovely blue skies, sunny, and no wind. We went for a walk along the marina then to the chemist for plasters.

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Naier CBD

We got back to the motel in time to be picked up at midday for a wine tour. 8 of us went on the tour Walli, Francine (first time I have met her but she has done other TDA rides, comes from Canada), Michele, Tony, Chris, Linda, and Brett, and the driver/owner was called Vince. The company was called Vince’s World of Wine Tours.

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Vince of Vince’s World of Wine

First off we went to Moana Park, then Trinity Hill, then to Te Awa where we were to have lunch as well as a wine tasting. Unfortunately Vince had not picked up that we would eat a lot and we cleared the food in a moment. Luckily we could order what ever we liked at our own cost, which we happily did.

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Happy about all the wine! At Moana Park

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Wine tasting! 

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Wine tasting at Trinity Hill (photo credit: Michele’s Facebook)

Then to Vidal’s Vineyard, then a drive around the port, and back to our motel.

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Vidal’s Vineyard

Next step was to pack away laundry and get my bag ready as we are off again tomorrow for another tour day of cycling. Tomorrow we are going to Porangahau which I have never heard of, but is on the coast about 50km from Waipukurau.

As we had a late lunch I was not that hungry at dinner. I went back to the Emporium Eatery and had a pizza and a beer with Michele, Tony, and Brett.

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Day 8: Monday 21 Nov, Kurpipapango to Napier

Today 810 meters climbing and 1,300 down and only 82km to Napier, with the next day being a rest day. Sounds good, the only drawback is the 10km of uphill first up.

My legs felt ok when I first got onto the bike, so 900m of shingle up to the main road then 500 meters until a big steep hill. To my shame I was off my bike and pushing less than 2km into the ride. I was hoping the whole 10km was not as steep, as other wise I would take over 3 hours to get 10km. Thankfully the gradient decreased so I got back on my bike and did not have to push my bike again for the rest of the day.

There were lots of steep bits but lots of dips too, so if you got a really good run up them most of the time you could get to the top in the big gear. A few I still had to push. It was lovely and warm, with blue sky and great views.

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View of Hawkes Bay

Before I knew it the lunch truck was in sight at 61km. The mood of the other riders was as jovial as mine. Only 21 km to ride and at the most 100 meters of climbing to go.

Back on the road again, 5km along a bike trail then onto the main road heading into the city. It was not too busy as it was only 12:30 pm.

We were staying at Bk Fountain Court Motel, nice rooms, comfy bed and a bath 😀. This time there was only one washing machine and it was only open 1pm to 8pm, so I decided to wait till tomorrow and go down town to do my laundry when I go out to have breakfast.

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Tony outside our motel (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

After a shower I set off down town with Brett, Michele and Tony for a cold beer. We went to a lovely old hotel called The Emporium Eatery and Bar, which is part of the Art Deco Masonic Hotel. It was built in 1861, destroyed by fire, rebuilt, destroyed by the 1931 earthquake, then rebuilt.

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Kaye’s Great Gatsby entrance at the  Masonic Hotel Napier

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Emporium Cafe & Bar Napier

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Emporium Cafe & Bar Napier

We had cold beer, and a pizza and chips to share. Sitting out on the Napier esplanade in the warm afternoon sun was great, there was no wind.

 

We googled a number of places for dinner but most of them were closed on Monday. We decided to go to a place in the old Napier port called The Thirsty Whale, which had good reviews. However we were not keen to walk there as it was over 5km away and I felt I had done enough exercise for the day. So we decided to get a taxi.

We flagged one down in the street, what a miserable chap he was! He was Norwegian and had been here for a couple of years, and did not much like New Zealand or Napier. When asked what bought him here he said ‘A plane’.

Anyway, he reckons New Zealand houses are shit, and the people in Napier are small minded. I was tempted to ask him why he was still here. When we got to the Restaurant I told him to keep the change, that worried him as well. Tony got his card off him as we would want a taxi to go back.

We got a great table on the deck at the restaurant. To start we shared a bottle of Hãhã Sparkling Brut with the Parmesan bread. Then we had an Ash Ridge Sauvignon Blanc with our meals. I had a very nice version burger.

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Napier old harbour – Thirsty Whale

We asked the people in the restaurant to call us a taxi as we did not want the happy Norwegian – well guess who turned up. Unfortunately Michelle and I got the giggles.
He was less happy, nearly drove out in front of a couple of cars whilst sharing more of his views on Napier and the people. Apparently the people here have nothing better to do than turn the street signs round the wrong way! Really will watch out for that.

Back to the motel and in bed by 8:30pm, yay a rest day tomorrow. At midday 8 of us are off on a wine trip.

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Mon 21 Napier

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Day 7: Sunday 20 Nov, Ohakune to Kurpipapango

132km to ride today, climbing 2,300 meters with 2,350 down.

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Today’s instructions

I had tired legs already from yesterday so took a while to warm up. The first 24 km was not too bad, bit of up but not steep and not windy.

We are doing part of the ride today called the Gentle Annie. This ride can be found in the Classic NZ cycle trails and goes from Taihape to Napier. The person who called it the Gentle Annie has a very sick sense of humour. The book notes it as challenging and it’s not wrong. However before we got onto this challenging ride TDA threw in a 8km stretch of gravel with some fairly steep ups.

I was determined today to take more photos. However when I stopped to take a photo from the top off the hill my camera decided to go into weird mode and kept saving something so I played around with it and ended up getting a continuous shot of my face looking increasing annoyed. I tried turning it off and on but I couldn’t stop it so I put away in disgust. I rode cautiously down the gravel.

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Start of the gravel road

Next we went out onto SH1 for 11km of lovely downwards gradient then turned at 58.7km into the Gentle Annie ride. The first 13 km was great, all downhill but it was running through my mind this is all going to have to be climbed back up!

Lunch at 71k was not so enjoyable with the knowledge that at 73km is a 18 km uphill climb. Some riders called it a day at lunch, while some rode the lunch truck to the lunch stop and then rode from there. The more foolhardy like myself decided to do the whole day.

There was amazing scenery so I checked what my camera was up to, it was still busily saving the grumpy photo of me, but battery was nearly flat so I turned off.

Well they call a bike a push bike because you can push it. I had a mixture of pushing and riding for the first 3 km of the climb, but then was able to stay on my bike to the peak. My garmin, which I know was fully charged, went flat at 80 km which was a real pain as I like to see how far I have come, and check the turns in the notes against the distance ridden.

At the top of the hill I had a sandwich and a drink. The lunch truck stopped on the way past and filled up my drink bottles. There are no shops today or tomorrow until we are nearly in Napier.

Less than two km downhill, then another 10k climb. The first bit was steep and my legs were not interested in riding so I pushed the bike the first 2km until the gradient eased and I climbed the rest.

Whilst walking I kept getting bomb dived by a magpie, who as soon as I turned my back to start walking would dive at me. At about one km there was another magpie in the ditch so maybe he was mad his friend had been killed, or maybe his friend had dive bombed a truck. In the end I saw a rock and biffed that at him and he left me alone (maybe his friend was killed by a rock). Later I found out he had followed some of the other riders for 5km.

I had a number of curious cows and sheep watch me make my way slowly up the hill. One cow was so interested she kept pace with me (not hard, she ambled) the length of the field.

At the top of the hill was a turn to keep following the Napier -Taihape Rd. The way I took was not flagged but I was pretty sure it was right, however after a very long downhill I was starting to worry that I may have gone the wrong way and may have to climb back up!

I was halfway up another hill when the lunch truck came back past checking on riders and seeing if anyone wanted to be picked up. Without the garmin I was thinking I had maybe 10km to go, so it was very daunting to hear I still had 23km with another big climb!!! I filled up my water bottles again, resisted looking at the comfortable seats in the truck, and set off again.

By this stage I was stuffed, my legs were becoming really heavy and each incline was like a steep climb. The next step climb I got to, once again I was off my bike and pushing. The last two riders behind me – Ray and Ursula (from Canada) passed me. Ursula also got off her bike but managed to walk up the hill without stopping.

By this stage I was walking, counting to 40 then stopping, then walking for another 40 count, then stopping, then walking for another 40 count, then stopping – all the way up 2km. I felt the hill was never going to end. I was thinking I wonder if my legs will simply stop working.

Then the inevitable happened – I was “swept”! The sweep is the TDA staff rider who rides at the back of the bunch to deal with any issues with riders. And if they catch up with you you’re ‘swept’ . I had hoped not to get swept on this ride.

Finally the top was reached and at last a downhill. It was fairly steep so I had to stop half way down as I have rim brakes and needed to stop to let them cool, as if they get too hot the heat of the rubbers squeezing the tyres can pop a tyre. The last thing I need at this stage is a flat, I think I would have buffed my bike onto the side of the road and walked to camp. Or as I saw once on the Round the Lake Taupo ride – someone rode into a tree.

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View of a gorge not far out of camp

At the bottom of the downhill was a bridge with a sign “2km to camp”. However anytime you see a bridge at the bottom of a downhill it generally means a climb back up. Well, the 2k was uphill but not much of a gradient, but at the speed and effort I was going you would have thought it was almost vertical. With the sweep behind me however there was no way I was going to get off my bike. Finally the turn to camp: 900 meters of shingle, thankfully with soft downward gradient to camp.

10 hours on the bike and I arrived at camp totally stuffed but wrapped to have made it. Brett waved me over where he had a chair waiting for me, took my bike and shoved a beer into my hand. Plus he had put my tent up for me 😀

Later Michelle told me that Brett had told them ‘When she arrives there will be no point talking to her, she will be like a mongrel dog until she has a cold beer’.

There were no shower facilities as it is a bush camp so I had a wet wipe wash. It is a nicer bush camp than I had been expecting. I was thinking wind blown, remote, covered in tussocks and no shelter, but it was actually sheltered with lots of trees.

We had been told there were three long drops so I was imagining smelly holes in the ground, but this is a army training site and there were three toilets in small buildings like port-a-loos but with a ventilation thing on top which meant they did not smell and because they did not smell there were no flies either.

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The long drop at bushcamp

Dinner was some lovely strips of tender lamb, couscous, green salad, and ratotue (tomato and vegetables mixed together, no idea how you spell it, it sounds like rat a tui). (Editor’s note: I think she means ratatouille 🙂 )

We had it with some Hawkes bay Merlot bought in Ohakune and travelled safety to camp tucked into Tony’s size 15 sneakers, which are just the right size for a bottle of wine.

Sadly then it was not off to bed as it was my night to get chosen for wash up duty. Each rider washes their own dishes, wash up duty is where you wash all the cooking stuff. Two lucky riders are chosen each night. It did not take long, and then off into my sleeping bag.

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Somewhere on the ride today

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Day 6 – Saturday 19 November: Taupo to Ohakune

Today we have 1950 meters to climb, 1300 down and 145 km to ride. This is like doing the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge bike ride, without the training!

Sadly the day is overcast and drizzly, and the overseas riders are not going to be able to see the Great Lake at its best, and good -or any- views of the mountains.

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Setting off ready for the rain, wearing my merino cap covered with a shower cap to keep head warm and dry

For those of you who have done the Taupo ride the ride today is stage 4 and half of stage 3. And for those of you who have done the Round the Mountain run it is most of stage 5 then stages 6, 7, 8 and 9.

So understandably daunted I set off. The first 18 km to Hatepe Hill was fairly gentle. Hatepe Hill was a climb but the worst bit was having no shoulder and riding up a passing lane. Thankfully a Saturday and thankfully no trucks in both lanes at the same time.

Sadly no Great Lake view at 22.3 km as promised in the notes, due to weather. I had been a bit nervous about the 4 km of tight turns and no shoulder but struck it lucky and only had one car pass during this bit.

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Road between Taupo and Turangi

I stopped for coffee and a sandwich in Turangi plus went to the bike shop and got a rear reflector (another thing I forgot to pack).

The 11 km from Turangi to the turn off to National Park was fairly easy riding, once again relieved it is Saturday. Then once we turned onto SH46 the climb begun. It was pretty much all climbing from 60 km to 100 km and it seemed endless. There would have been nice views if it wasn’t pouring and misty. I was pleased that I had booked a cabin as something to look forward to at the end of what was going to be a long day.

Lunch was at 71 km, I did not stay long as I did not want to get cold and still had 76 km (!!) to ride to camp. A number of riders called it a day at this point and rode in the lunch truck to camp. As I rode off I was thinking they were the most sensible ones.

From 71km to 100km it seemed endless, then I started thinking about how Emily (tour leader) said most of the climb is between 50 and 100 km but there wasn’t much climbing from 50 to 60 km, what if she meant 60 to 110km?? Thankfully it was mostly over at 100km, after that there were rolling hills but no more sustained uphill.

I remembered a steep climb under the Makatote historical steel bridge but actually on the bike you got most of the uphill for free from the momentum in speed built up on the way down. My garmin (Editor’s note: this is the bike computer tracking thing) decided to go flat at 130 km even though I had charged it, maybe I took it off the charge too early.

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Makatote Historical Steel Trestle Bridge

I was very pleased to see the Ohakune Top 10 Holiday park after over 8 hours on the bike. And yay no tent to put up. I had booked a cabin called a Gypsy Cabin which was just a bunk bed and a light switch but much better than tenting in the wet. When I arrived I was amused to see it looked like a gypsy wagon.

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Photo of gypsy cabin

I had a shower and then went off to the Montieth’s Pub for a cold beer. The pub was nice, comfy couches in front of a warm fire. It was hard to get up to go back to camp to sit outside for dinner. There are only 11 days to summer, but I was in full winter clothing in order to be warm at camp.

Dinner was butter chicken with paneer cheese, cashews, and cardamom rice and coriander, onion, tomatoes and green pepper ratia, plus a green salad and a bottle of Hawkes Bay HaHa Merlot kindly shared by Michele amongst four of us.

Then it was off to bed trying to block out thoughts of the next days ride.

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Day 5 – Friday 18 November

Easy riding day today, 850 meters climbing with 670 down, and only 85 km in total.

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Rotorua to Taupo ride

When we left it was sunny. The first 23 km was on bike trails. I made a wrong turn and ended up on a mountain bike track – steep, rocks, wet. Thankfully I managed to get off it and back to the main bike trail.

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Track out of Rotorua

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Lunch stop

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Lunch stop: Michele and Tony and other riders

We stopped at Waimangu Volcanic Center, New Zealand’s newest geothermal area. We had coffee and a look around but did not have time to go on the tour, but I will certainly come back.

Just down the road we turned to look at a mud pool at Wai-o-Tapu. They get pretty cold – 60 to 100 C 😀

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Mud pools

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Mud pool

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Mud pool info

We managed to stay off the main road for most of the day and came into Taupo following Broadlands Rd which is the road that the riders go on doing the Taupo Ironman ride. We were riding into a head wind most of the way.

We stayed at a nice little camp called the All Season Kiwi Park. It said it had a hot pool but in reality it was a hot box, and both times I looked it was full with a family.

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Camp: my tent by the hedge

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Saw this sign at the camp, was a bit worried until I read it all

We went down in to Taupo to the Torpedo 7 store, I wanted some legs warmers and Michelle and Tony got tops and socks. Then off to the lakefront for a relaxing cold beer.

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Good use for old bikes as a fence at Lake Taupo

We got back to camp in time for riders meeting – just – then dinner. Dinner was Spanish lamb stew which was really nice, with minted peas and plus salad, with green leaves, feta and pear.

It was very cold tonight, hard to believe it is less than two weeks to summer. Tomorrow we have a big day, 145 km plus lots of climbing and the weather forecast is not great, so I have rung ahead to the Top Ten we are staying in at Ohakune and booked a cabin.

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TDA provide wine and beer for $4 a can or glass. So far I have not been tempted by the wine . . .

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I have had the odd beer though. A number of the riders are really enjoying L&P.

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Day 4 – Thursday 17 November

7I enjoyed waking up this morning with a day with not much to do apart from catch up with the blog, sort the washing, and rest.

I cooked eggs on toast for breakfast, then I had a number of cups of tea catching up with the blog and emails. We gave up on trying to do the laundry here: 1 machine and 23 riders plus other guests, so Brett googled the closest laundry and we arranged to pick it up at 4pm.

Walli, who I have ridden with before on the Trans Europa ride, has not been very well and has only ridden about 5km on her bike so far. Thankfully she has been to the Rotorua Medical Center and had chest X-rays, blood tests, and a full exam, and the diagnosis is bad hay fever. She has got some prevention medication and will hopefully be back on her bike soon.

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Walli on the arm of the chair, with Michele

In my blog about the day I arrived in Auckland I commented that I had bought Calci-trim milk. My daughter Kelly, aka blog editor, commented in an email that it was unusually specific of me not to have just said milk. I realised I had forgotten to add that the next morning I had a cup of tea and the tea tasted of banana, so I assumed it was some weird flavoured hotel tea bags, so I got one of mine, but then noticed the calci trim I bought in a dimly lit superette was actually a small bottle of banana milk! Yuk, down the sink it went.

On the left is what I meant to buy. On the right is what I bought.

On the left is what I meant to buy. On the right is what I bought.

About midday I started feeling hungry so I walked down the road to the fish and chip shop with Michele. The shop had a prominent sign saying “Best fish and chip shop in the region 2008/2009”. I was thinking how long should you keep a sign like that up for, after all it’s at least 7 years ago.

After lunch I had a nap, then walked down to get the laundry and some food to cook for dinner. I got nice fat thick steaks, with mushrooms, onions, asparagus and kumara mash with garlic butter. I would have had broccoli and carrots but the lid is stuck tightly on the pot and I can’t break the suction. I currently have the pot in the fridge hoping the cold breaks the suction.

Next it was packing as we are off again tomorrow. Tomorrow is not too bad, only 85 km to Taupo with 850 meters up and 670 down, but the next two days after that are a bit daunting. First is Taupo to Ohakune, 1950 meters climb and 1260 down and 145 km riding. Then the day after that we climb 2,300 meters up and ride 132k to a bush camp in the middle of nowhere in Kuripapango.

Hopefully we have good weather. A bush camp means no toilets or showers or shelter, and often no bush!

Next section Rotorua to Napier

Next section Rotorua to Napier

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Day 3 – Wednesday 16 November

87km, 1,000 meters up, 750 meters down

It was to good to pack up my gear in a cabin, not having to be all stooped over in a tent. We had porridge this morning for breakfast which is always a favourite, but I have never had it with bananas and nuts mixed in before . . . not sure whether it’s something I will re-create.

The weather forecast is for rain again today but not till about 10am, so I set off with my wet weather gear in my Apidura (the bike pack on the back of my bike).

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Picture of an Apidura (bike back pack)

So turns out we did not have to ride back up the hill we came down to camp on, which I had hoped we wouldn’t – but I had somehow totally missed that the first 10km of the ride today was uphill straight from camp. Not great for already tired legs but it’s amazing what a nights rest can do, as I got up these hills without too much pain.

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Riding uphill straight out of camp – the road is steeper than it looks in the photo

Some nice views back to Tauranga and the hills and kiwi fruit orchards, but sadly as it was not new to me I did not think of getting any photos.

One of the female riders came past and commented she couldn’t go as slow as me up a hill as the gearing on her bike wouldn’t allow it. I responded “Maybe you need to get a new bike”. And I didn’t say but thought: maybe if her bike had gearing that allowed her to go slower up hills she wouldn’t have had to get the truck from lunch yesterday.

Then we went down into Te Puke and stopped at 18.4 km for a coffee stop at a place called ‘Very Tasty’. It was very tasty, I had a nice muffin and coffee.

We came across a field of cows who were very curious and rushed up to the fence to say hello. I could hear a low grumbling sound and I couldn’t work out what it was but then I could see a bull at the back who was clearly not happy that we were near his herd.

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Some locals on the way down to Te Puke

Then onto SH2 until the Whakatane exit, then along that road for 2km, then right into Wilson’s Road, away from the traffic again. At this stage, pretty much bang on 10am, it started to pour with rain. So I stopped to put my wet weather gear on.

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The Back road from Te Puke to Rotorua – a bit different than SH2! Note the orange flagging tape making sure we don’t make the wrong turn

At 31.2 k we turned onto the Old Coach Road, which was the original road to Rotorua. There was no traffic but it was quite hilly. Then it was hilly with gravel, and the regret about lack of training kicked in again.

I had adjusted my seat height before coming on the trip, but must not have tightened it enough as, without me noticing, it had come down a bit again. As a result my left knee was brushing against the bike frame while I was riding in the gravel which I didn’t notice until I got off when back on the Tarmac, then I saw I had scrapped the skin off. Luckily it was just a surface graze and covered so as not to get any dirt into it.

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Me riding up the gravel back road between Te Puke and Rotorua

Lunch was at 63 km, once again a really nice selection of sandwich food. Then thankfully only 24km left to ride to Rotorua. The 24km felt like 50km – first 5km was downhill then back onto SH2 with traffic and wind, and I found even the quite small hills were challenging.

With relief I arrived at the rest day motel. We stayed at the Wylie Court Motor Lodge. Very nice motel, every unit had its own private spa. Once again: can this be a TDA trip?

I had a shower and decided to leave the laundry until tomorrow, then went with Michelle, Tony and Brett to the town which was a 15 minute walk away, in search for food and beer. We went to a nice pub called the Pig and Whistle. We were just going to have a snack and go elsewhere but ended up staying there for snacks and beer then moved onto a Brookfield Syrah and dinner. The servings were really large but four hungry riders were up to the challenge. I had a Moroccan lamb sandwich with feta, olives and sun dried tomatoes, along with a bowl of curly fries (called pig tails).

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(Photo from the Pig and Whistle Facebook page)

Then we went to the supermarket on the way home to get breakfast supplies then home to bed. Lovely thought to not have to get up in the morning and ride anywhere. Also no need to head off to be a tourist in Rotorua either, so a lazy day coming up 😀😀😀

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Day 2 -Tuesday 15 November

115 kilometres- climbing 110k, down 130k

Thankfully when I woke up the rain had not yet started, but by the time I had nearly packed up the tent it was starting to spit. Luckily we had a covered space for breakfast with tables and chairs for breakfast. Yanez the cook had made stacks of French toast and one of the Canadian riders had bought a tub of real maple syrup, plus cereal and yoghurt.

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After breakfast I put on my over shoes on, put on my rain jacket, and off we headed. I was riding with Michelle, Tony, and Brett. The first 44.5 kilometres of the day was flat with lots of left and right turns. Left was into the wind, and right it was behind you. When heading into the wind I kept thinking to myself “At least it’s not the 130 kilometre per hour wind and torrential rain that was happening in Wellington”.

We stopped at Paeroa for coffee, and then of course obligatory tourist stop by the big L&P bottle on the outskirts of town. For non-NZ blog readers, a factory in Paeroa used to make a drink called “Lemon & Paeroa” which was lemon with Paeroa spring water. Now it’s made by Coca Cola but is still a NZ favourite).

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Brett and me at the L&P bottle in Paeroa

Then we headed off up the Karangahake Gorge. There was not much of a shoulder to ride in, and at times there was no shoulder and lots  of traffic. A friendly driver gave us an earful as they went past. Sue got a flat on a nasty bend but managed to find a safe bit off road to change it. Brett and Tony stopped to help whilst Michelle and I continued on.  Thankfully at 58.4 k we turned right to Waitawheta and had a nice quiet country road until 70.1 k where we turned onto SH2.

We were on SH2 for most of the rest of the day. It started pouring down , there was not much of a shoulder, and what shoulder there was a lot of it was taken up with raised white lines, which are not pleasant to ride on.  The trucks were whizzing past and spraying water all over us. One tanker came way too close to me.

Lunch was at 73.7 k, where there was a tarpaulin to sit under plus a nice selection of sandwich fillings. Is this really a TDA ride?

As soon as we stopped riding, even though I had layers of clothes,  over boots, water proof gloves and rainproof jacket, I started to feel cold. I had lost my water proof skull cap a few weeks ago, so I solved the problem by putting a shower cap over my merino wool skull cap. Almost Enid Sharpels looking but of course it wasn’t quite a hair net. Once my head was warm I started feeling warmer.

Off we went again into the pouring rain, with busy traffic and big trucks. There were often reasonable shoulders but they would disappear and all of a sudden you would be on a narrow piece of road with a large vehicle in each direction.

About this time I started regretting my lack of training. I kept meaning to increase my training but sadly I didn’t. The most I have been getting done over the past couple of months is two rides a week, of about two hours and about 50 k each. These rides had hills but not enough.

At 107 kilometres I was coming up a hill and I thought “I am not going to be able to get up this hill” – my legs have just about stopped working. I gritted my teeth and locked my eyes onto the Challenge Petrol Station sign up the top of the hill where I had decided to stop, and I managed to get up there.  It’s amazing what a nice hot chocolate and a 10 minute rest will do. While I found the going tough for the rest of the day I didn’t have another “I can’t do this” moment.

At 118 kilometres SH2 becomes like a motorway going into Tauranga, then add rush hour traffic, and having to cross lanes  – crazy!

At 125 kilometres we had to go right at the third exit of the roundabout, but to get to it we could either go off the track onto a bike path across the road, or ride about 1 kilometre on a bridge with two lanes, no shoulder and heaps of traffic . Michelle kept on going onto the bridge, but after waiting about 5 min the rest of us managed to get across the two lanes of rush hour traffic to the bike lane.

The bike lane took us off to the side of where we needed to go but we managed to work our way back to where we needed to be but no Michelle. We waited for awhile and when we didn’t see her we figured she had gone ahead so we set off for camp. It was mostly down hill from there to camp. Whilst I was riding I was thinking “I hope we don’t have to come back this way tomorrow”.

At 130.5 kilometres we arrived thankfully at camp. I was very pleased I had rung before and booked a cabin. Shared with Tony, Michelle and Brett. It was a nice camp with a laundry with washing machine and dryers, so was able to get our soaking wet bike gear dry.

There was also a covered space with tables and chairs, plus of course the lovely hot pools. But no Michelle at camp. We were reassured however that she had a cellphone plus also any local would give her directions so we headed off to the hot pools.  It turned out there were workmen at the roundabout and they had removed the orange flagging, so a few riders got lost. Michelle arrived in camp having done an extra 6 kilometres but one rider did an extra 20 kilometres – so a total of 150 kilometres!

Welcome Bay Hot Springs are very close to Te Puke where my dad lived with my step mother Lynne. Dad sadly died 6 years ago but Lynne still lives in Te Puke, so she came to visit at the camp to visit.

I had got two small holes in my gloves and had forgotten to bring needle and thread, so I text Lynne and asked her to bring this with her. Lynne not only bought the needle and thread but sewed the gloves up as well. Unlike me, who spends about 10 minutes trying to thread a needle with glasses, Lynne just does it straight away and doesn’t even wear glasses! Pretty good vision for a pensioner.

I had arranged for Lynne to stay  with us for dinner. We had a very nice beef stew with potatoes and a salad with kale, tomato, feta and olives, yum. Plus Lynne had bought two bottles of red wine which went down well with the group. It was good to catch up with Lynne, and she enjoyed meeting people she had read about in my blog, especially Sue and Walli.

A few of the riders had approached Emily, the tour leader, about how uncomfortable they were with the SH traffic and lack of shoulders. We discussed alternative routes and luckily Lynne was there to give local knowledge of the alternative roads.

At 8pm I was suddenly very tired, so Lynne set off home and I crashed into bed.

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