86km – 1,250 metres climing and 1,200 down.
The weather remained fine and warm, and not too windy. Today there were 4 hills, one at at about 8 km and the other 3 in a cluster between Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier, starting at 68 k and finishing at about 82k.
The first hill was quite kind, it went on for a while but was only about a 6% gradient, which meant the serious climbing would be in the final 3 hills. Not a lot of traffic early in the day, and as the day went on it was mainly buses and camper vans and wagons.
I stopped at 30 k in Whataroa for coffee. I was amused to see a sign for the newest tourist attraction: fault line tours. I wonder how many tourists sign up for that.
Lunch was quite early at 50 k . There were a couple of jokes as expected about not sitting in front of me etc.
Last night we had a conversation about silly things you do as children with contributions such as (these were not me) – holding onto an electric fence for the longest, getting electric shocks by touching your tongue against a wet telegraph pole etc. This conversation resumed at lunch. One of the rider’s Kevin has three children, the middle one is a bit of a trouble maker and one morning in Canada in sub zero conditions he convinced his older and younger sibling to lick a frozen pole. His wife came out of their driveway on the way to work to find two of her children with their tongues stuck to the pole. She had to go back to the house to get water to get them unstuck.
Poor Justina – not only did I throw an apple at her head yesterday, but when she got to camp and touched the fence it was electrified and she got a shock, and then this morning when she came out of her tent a fly flew into her mouth! She says bad things come in three’s so hopefully this is it.
After lunch it was 10km to Franz Joseph, where I stopped for a cup of tea before the big climb. I have been here before so did not feel the need to add to the day’s riding by cycling and then walking up to the glacier. I applied sunscreen, bulked up on water ,and set off.
The climb was mostly ok but steep in a few places. I got off three times to catch my breath and have a drink of water. It was a good feeling to get to the top of the final hill and 5km downhill to Fox Glacier.
We stayed at the Rain Forest Motel. For the first time on this trip we were sharing rest day accommodation. Thankfully it was Tony and Michele in with us.
Then it was time to unpack, have a shower, and relax for awhile, then up to town (approx 500 meters) for a look around, and food and drink. We decided on a place called The Last Kitchen with the plan that we would have a drink and a snack there, and then move. However the food was so delicious, and the staff so nice, we ended up staying there for the evening.
We started with green mussels in ginger, cream and coriander, a fried Camembert, and kumera wedges with cold beer. Guy, one of the other riders, joined us just after we had eaten our entrees. I was trying to decide between the blue cod battered fish or the lamb burger, as was Guy. We decided one of us would buy one and one would buy the other and halve it. Problem solved. The others all had the steak. The wine was a bottle of Aussie Malbec chosen because it was called La La Land. It was ok.
The conversation was very convivial until somehow we got onto occupations, and Guy said he was retired but had worked for Monsanto (genetic engineering of crops), and then there was quite a heated discussion on the pros and cons of this. Possibly not all of us will be dinner companions by choice of Guy’s in the future. Guy did not stay around for long after he had eaten, but long enough to express surprise that we were getting a second bottle of wine (between four people).
When you are doing long rides you often see self supported riders, and they are also welcome to stop at the lunch truck for food and for dinner in camp. Last night a touring heavy laden couple arrived at Hari Hari, unfortunately after we had had dinner. Whilst sitting on the balcony at The Last Kitchen we saw them ride into town about 7pm, we waved out and called out good effort. We had found the hills challenging and we didn’t have heavily laden bikes to contend with.
They rode up the street and about that time the bugs started biting so as the motel was so close I went back for the bug spray. As I was coming out again the two riders rode around the corner and they recognized me from when we had called out to them before. They had had trouble finding somewhere to stay and it had been suggested they try here as there were lots of cyclists. However it’s not a campsite so there are no amenities, and the motel owner said they could only stay here if we agreed and let them use our facilities. They seemed a nice enough couple so I handed them our key to have a shower and said when you are ready come back to the pub and we would shout them a drink.
Justina came back up to the pub with me, by this time the group had moved to a table with gas fire in the middle, so it was nice and warm – got to love those NZ summers. We had a good chat with the two tour cyclists. Yoav is from the Netherlands and Asia is from Poland, but they met and both work in America. Asia is a scientist working as NASA and Yoav is currently not working but his last job was as the Global Campaign Director for Earth Day. They carry two of everything – two tents, two cooking stoves etc. Asia says that way they are staying together because they want to, not out of necessity.
Then it was time to return to the motel, I went to bed happy with the thought that tomorrow was a rest day.