Day 18: Thursday 1 Dec – Murchison to Westport

Riding 97km today – climbing 1,200 metres and 1,400 down.

Thankfully a shorter ride today as my legs don’t have much in them after the past couple of days.

I had no cell coverage again last night was unexpected as was the no coverage in Nelson in the Maitai Valley. Must be a hill in the way of the tower.

Today was officially the first day of summer. Ha I thought as I pulled on my arm warmers and leg warmers. Should have put my full finger gloves on as well as my fingers were very cold the first few kilometres.

For breakfast Yarnez decided to have a go at a roast lamb and potato hot pot/ stir fry – not his most successful dish, but I appreciated his efforts.

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Breakfast this morning (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I set off with one new tyre on the back, so was hopeful that I would have no problems with flat tyres today. Luckily there were not too many trucks that early before we got to the turn off to Westport and away from the Kaikoura to Christchurch traffic diversion. Instantly the roads were calmer, hardly any traffic and the few trucks there were you could hear them coming awhile away.

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A stretch of road today (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

A few climbs and my legs were hopeless,  it was like riding with concrete gum boots on. I gritted my teeth and kept grinding, focusing on that it was a shorter riding day and a rest day tomorrow.

Stopped at 51km stop for coffee and then around the corner at 57 km was the lunch truck. There was a much lighter atmosphere than yesterday with only 40km left to ride, no longer lots of trucks and mostly downhill 😀 Plus the weather was warm and not windy.

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Even so it seemed a long ride, every uphill was endless with legs that were not cooperative with climbing. It was very pretty scenery, the Buller river was very fast moving you would not want to slip in as it would be hard to get back out.

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Travelling down the Buller Gorges

There were a few narrow bits and some traffic-light controlled bridges, which had a button for cyclists to push as a bike was not heavy enough to activate the lights.

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Bridge where you have to push a button to get across (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Finally I got into Westport (only just before 2, so even though the day has felt hard it really wasn’t in term of distance and climbing). We were staying at the Buller Bridge Motel. Right by the sign that says “Spacious and quiet” was a road crew digging up the road. Luckily they won’t be working over night.

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On the West Coast

I had a shower and a rest and then went to the Denniston Dog Restaurant for dinner with Brett, Michele, Tony, Chris and Linda (Chris has done 7 TDA rides and did the whole South American EFI, plus won the men’s race, Linda did part of South  America, this her 3rd TDA ride). We also invited Sue but she had already made plans.

We had just sat down and ordered a drink when another big TDA group arrived and sat at the next table, 5 minutes later another big TDA group arrived – it was almost like being at camp!

Most of us had steak that you cooked on a stone hot plate yourself. A big serving of meat. I cooked mine in two halves so one half could be resting while I cooked the other half. It was really good, and if it wasn’t you could only blame the chef. I was too full for desert but a couple of people shared a cheesecake. The dark chocolate and cherry cheesecake looked pretty good. There was a very limited wine selection, in the end we all agreed on a Gatekeeper Aussie Shiraz being the best choice.

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Sizzling plate, pork and apple (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Jessica had said there was a fundraiser at a local pub to support a BMX track being built so we called in, it looked pretty tame. They were about to have an auction so we made a donation and left. We called into a pub further down the street called the Cosmopolitan, unlike the Denniston Dog which was crowded and humming, this place was deserted: the publican, a punter on the slot machines, and 2 customers who left just after we came in.

We returned to the Denniston Dog and it was still humming. The difference I think was the very friendly bar staff – two younger ladies with an extensive knowledge of cocktails. We decided to have a cocktail called a Tobblerone. It was absolutely delicious but quite a high alcohol content. Luckily we were not silly enough to do another round.

One customer had a cocktail called a “Dogs breath” which was lit on fire and he had to swallow the drink in the glass and breathe in the fumes – he looked quite glassy eyed afterwards. There was also a cocktail called a “Bubblegum”. The bar lady gave us a small taste, it did taste just like bubblegum. Time to return to our motels.

Yay rest day tomorrow.

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Travelling down the Buller Gorges

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