113km to ride today – 1,650 meters of climbing 1,600 meters down.
Emily the tour leader described it as “rolling hills and two bitches”.
Our new rider Justina thankfully had her gear and bike arrive so was ready to set off with everyone this morning. It was nice weather to ride in, not much wind and not too hot.
The first part of the ride was along Queen Charlotte Drive, which is part of the famous Forrest GrapeRide and the less well known but extremely enjoyable Gourmet Grazer Ride.
There were some interesting mail boxes to look at as we rode along. There was a bit of earthquake damage to the road in places.
I was amused to see a sign for a “Live Stock Psychologist”, not sure of the significance of the pair of gum boots under the sign.
I stopped at 35km for coffee at Havlock, then back onto what was a really busy road. It was much more busy than usual because of the earthquake, all the traffic that would have gone down Kaikoura is on this road, plus there even more increased traffic because the railway line is also out of action.
It was quite daunting when trucks coming from both directions pass right by you. As always, some drivers are pretty good and some are either ignorant or deliberately come too close. Where ever possible I got right off the road until they had passed.
At 65km was the first big hill, then downhill to lunch at 70km. The next hill was one that Emily referred to as the second ‘bitch’, it was at 83km, and seemed to stretch on for ever.
Almost at the top there was a pine tree randomly decorated as a Christmas tree, with a naivety scene at the foot. It was a good reason to stop and take a picture.
There was a huge downhill with no shoulder, so I pulled over a number of times to let trucks past and was constantly looking over my shoulder. I was very pleased to get down the bottom.
Over the past three weeks I have noticed there are a few riders that I see a lot during the day. I am reasonably fast on the flat but still a bit slow going up hill or down steep slopes. I generally see Kelvin, Bill, and Charles, numerous times in a day. The other morning when leaving camp, instead of saying “have a good ride”, Kelvin said “See you 14 or so times on the way”.
It’s Kelvin’s first TDA ride. Kelvin is from Canada and owns a dog food making company. I don’t know much about Bill other than he drinks two 500 ml bottles of juice each morning, and he likes cake. Charles is also from Canada, and is a university academic of some sort. He has done a few other TDA rides and has endless energy, he buzzes past me with frequency making cheerful comments.
Bill is convinced he saw a Kiwi today, in the middle of the day crossing the road in a farmland area. As all New Zealander’s know this is unlikely, almost certainly impossible. For non-New Zealanders: Kiwis come out at night, live in the bush and 99.9% of people can live their whole life with never seeing one in the wild. (Editor’s disclaimer: not sure if this statistic is a true fact).
After the big downhill we rode along the coast into Nelson, around the outskirts of town and then out of town to the Maitai Valley Motor Camp.
I nearly went the wrong way as there is also a camp in Maitai Valley Rd called Brookland.
I felt a bit uneasy as I had gone through two roundabouts with no flagging, so called into a dairy and asked the owner, who told me I was going in the wrong direction. Then we had quite a long conversation about the Brookland camp being empty, and she was going to petition the council to get it opened to accommodate the homeless people in Nelson. Apparently because of the house price increase, and the knock on effect of increased rents, there are a number of families living in tents. I have to say living in a tent with a family would be really tough going especially in the cold and wet. Hopefully she is successful and the community gets behind her.
I arrived at the camp, put up my tent and had a wee nap until dinner. Dinner was beef stir fry , vegetables and noodles plus a roast vege salad. Yanez the chef said he had made the noodles because in South Africa, where he and Emily are from, you have noodles on your birthday for good luck for the next year.
Brett shared a really nice bottle of red with Michele, Tony and I – The Obsidian from Waiheke Island. It was an interesting mix of grapes: 40% cab sav, 28 % merlot, 13% cab franc, 13% petti verdott and 6% Malbec. All these variety of grapes were grown on Waiheke Island (a small island off Auckland). It was seriously nice wine.
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