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.
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.
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.
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.
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.