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An unexpected souvenir from the trip

Remember on Day 3 of the trip, how Kaye fell and hurt her arm?

And then the next day she got it checked by the ED doctors on the tour (rather than going to a hospital) and the consensus was “there is no break at the wrist, and possibly a small crack in the radial head (which wouldn’t be plastered anyway) and badly sprained. Approx time to come right is about 10 days. Riding won’t make it any worse, and whether I can ride will depend how sore it is”.

And then over the course of the tour she complained about:

  • How getting on/off her bike was difficult, the pain was a 4/10 (Day 5)
  • How hard it was to open her water bottle, and how she kept losing bottle tops because she wasn’t doing them up tight enough (Day 7)
  • How her arm was sore, due to all the downhill braking the day before (Day 14)
  • How sore her arm was, because she stopped taking the anti-inflammatory pills (Day 15)
  • How she kept jarring her sore arm on the rocky bike path (Day 20)
  • How she almost fell off my bike, and gave her arm a huge jolt (Day 22)
  • How much it hurt every time she lifted anything with her right hand (not documented, but apparently this happened a LOT).

Well, when she got home and it was still really sore, she finally went and got an X-ray. And  . . .

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Turns out she does have a cracked radial head, which doesn’t need plaster – but she also fractured her wrist, which does need to be in plaster. So no lifting with this arm for awhile! – And no biking!!!!

 

 

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Day 25: Rest day in Cologne (27 June)

We had breakfast at the hotel, then the next step was the ongoing need to get laundry done.

When we got into the lift after breakfast, Gergo (the tour leader) jumped in and started having a chat to us about going the wrong way yesterday morning. Ezster (his wife) who was the sweep had caught up to us, and she must have mentioned it to him. Gergo spoke to us like we were about 12 years old so I walked off while he was talking.

Next thing we get an email from him, copied to Miles in the head office in TDA, telling us again why we were wrong and telling us how to navigate! Very frustrating as it’s the first time Gergo has spoken to me since the day I arrived, and it’s to tell me off! And he was totally oblivious that actually the flagging was wrong, and at least half the riders had made the same two wrong turns as us. After awhile I decided to just ignore it.  As in the words of Henry Gold, founder/owner of TDA, “getting lost is half the fun”.

After doing the laundry we had a couple of pizza pieces for lunch. Brett was not feeling very well, upset stomach, so he had a nap and I caught up on a couple of days with the blog.

Later the afternoon we went for walk and were amused to see a statue in square with her arm and hand open, holding a bottle of beer.

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Statue in the Old Market

Then we went to see the Cologne Cathedral which is Roman Catholic and is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne. The height of the building is 157.4 meters, which makes it the 4th highest church building in the world. It covers 8,000 square meters and can hold over 20,000 people. The two massive towers were completed in 1880c.

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Cologne Cathedral

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Cologne Cathedral

The cornerstone of the present day Gothic cathedral was laid at the Feast of Assumption of Mary, 15 August 1248. The previous building was deemed not impressive enough to hold the bones of the three wise men (Magi) and were brought to Cologne in 1164 by Archbishop Rainald of Dassel from Milan, after the latter city was conquered in 1164. In 1,200 these remains were placed in a golden Shrine. Because of these remains, the Cathedral is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Europe.

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Cologne Cathedral

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Cologne Cathedral

Outside the cathedral there were a number of beggars, I gave one a few euros and every time she saw me in the square after that she blew me a kiss. There was a man busking with an amazing voice singing opera, that we listened to for awhile also.

There were a number of cruise ships at the docks including the Ms Emily Bronte (from yesterday) and the Viking Vidar. The Viking Vidar goes from Budapest to Amsterdam.

We had dinner at a Lebanese restaurant called Beirut, with John W. We got a set menu and we could not believe it – we got about 20 starters (hummus, meatballs, rice, salad, chicken etc)  but thankfully only a platter of main, and a small honey pastry dessert.

Afterwards we decided to go to the hotel bar. Um 3 drinks later, I may regret this in the morning.

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Riverside

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The blog resumes!

Writing this I am at Wellington airport on Tuesday afternoon, through security, and relaxing with a book and a glass of wine.

My bag plus bike was over the weight limit by 4kg but Qantas didn’t seem to have an issue 😀. They just printed the labels and smiled.  I smiled too as there was nothing I could leave behind.

I have travelled twice on these biking trips with the same weight restriction and once had to pay excess baggage. This time I was wondering why I was over the weight limit, as I am staying in all hotels so I am minus the weight of the tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat –  until I remembered that the last two trips I boarded with a carry on backpack well over weight, having to concentrate on not falling backwards and hoping they would not weigh it – whereas this time I just have a small string bag.

It has been a crazy busy last few days trying to get on top of work, so I have not done a lot of training – never mind plenty of training coming up!

I am boarding in 30 minutes, the first leg is three and half hours to Melbourne, a two and half hour wait, then I board for a 14 hour flight to Dubai.

Then I have to get to another terminal to find an airline called Fly Dubai. I have nearly four hours before boarding, and then a final 6 hour flight to Bosnia.  Thankfully my bag and bike are checked through to Bosnia, so I don’t have to worry about them in Dubai.

Let the horror of long haul travel in cattle class begin.

Thanks in advance to my daughter Kelly blog editor extraordinaire (Editor’s note: My work has already begun, turning what was a wall of text with few full stops, terrible sentence structure, and multiple auto-corrects into something slightly readable!)

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Some of the people on this trip

TDA STAFF:

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Emily, the TDA tour leader, from South Africa

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From left: Yenez the chef (and Emily’s partner) from South Africa, and Will from TDA, from Tasmania, he joined the ride in Wellington

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Micah (TDA) – usually works in the TDA office in Canada

OTHER RIDERS:

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Guy from Canada. It is his first TDA tour. Where he comes from in Winnipeg in Canada, there are no hills. He is retired, and used to work for Monsanto.

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Francene from Canada, this is her fourth TDA rider

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Chris and Linda from Canada. This is Chris’s 7th TDA ride he did all of the South American ride. This is Linda’s third TDA ride, she did from Santiago to Ushuaia.

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Eve and Gregg. Americans who started the ride in Darwin. They have done other TDA rides. (Eve is the one who said her bike couldn’t go as slow as mine).

 

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Lani is from Canada, this is her 3rd TDA ride. She started this ride in Darwin. She is really short and rides a tiny bike, but makes really good time

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Christian from Canada, this is his first TDA trip.

 

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Day 14: Sunday 27 Nov – rest day in Wellington

Despite getting to bed late I was wide awake at 6am. I got up and enjoyed being able to make a cup of tea. I decided to catch up with the blog as I had not done any updates since I left Napier and I like to keep at least a couple of days in front of Editor Kelly.

Brett went off to the supermarket and got some toast bread, butter, and milk, – we already had some marmalade. After doing a couple of updates I went up the road to have coffee with couple of friends Delwyn and Pat who live in Mt Victoria. Then went back to meet my daughter Tracey and grandson Jasper (nearly 5 months old) at mid day.

We went to lunch in Island Bay at a place called Brew’d, I had a very nice Kereru Pilsner and beer battered fish and chips. Jasper was full of smiles and chortles and generally was finding life very amusing.

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Fish’n’Chips for Gran, a bobble for Jasper Jet

After lunch I went back to the hotel, and Michele and Tony were in the unit next door so they came over to meet Jasper. Tracey had gone to catch up with a friend and her children, but I persuaded her to leave Jasper with me.

At 5pm Tracey picked me up, along with Brett and Sue, and took us to eldest daughter Kelly’s house for a family dinner.

It was lovely to see Kelly, her husband Daniel, their daughter Lucy (aged 3 1/2); Tracey and Jasper; Lizzy and her son Xavier (aged 4, and otherwise known as Jig) and Lizzy’s partner Kiel. Lizzy had been on night shift so Jig had stayed at Kelly’s and they had been to a Christmas fair, where they had both had their faces painted. Jig was a Tiger and Lucy was a pirate.

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Telling a story to Lucy and Jig

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Storytelling time

My children were interested to meet Sue as they had read so much about her on the South American blog, plus Kelly (blog editor ) had got lots of photos from Sue’s emails and blogs. They had all heard so much about each other that they all felt like they had met already!

We started with a lovely cheese platter and Kelly, by request, had made homemade burgers plus as a surprise pork spareribs. Kelly had also gone to the trouble of getting a bottle of Hawkes Bay HaHa sparkling wine after reading about it on the blog.

I had lots of fun, it was great to catch up and get a chance to spend time with Jig, Lucy and Jasper.

Then it was time to go back to the motel, I was a bit sad to be leaving but am going to be back home in two weeks. Tomorrow we catch the ferry to Picton and stay in Picton, so it will be like another rest day.

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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 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 1 -Monday 14 November

Auckland to Miranda Hot Pools – Climbing 1,000 meters and down 1,000 metres.

The weather was fine but windy – luckily a tail wind mostly. I was up at 6am and packing bags. It was a bit of a worry finding out about the earthquake, thankfully my family and friends are all ok. I didn’t really have anything to put in my rest day bag as have managed to fit everything into my every day bag, including the pillow.

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Bags all packed: Almost everything for the next month is in my daily bag on the bottom, the permanent bag (which we only get on rest days) is on the top and is just about empty

We all had breakfast at the hotel restaurant and then set off to navigate the Auckland traffic! It was rush hour but luckily it was coming the other way.

It was a nice surprise to find Peter from NZ who did part of the South American trip is joining us for the first four days.

We made it out of Auckland ok after stopping at numerous traffic lights. First stop was at 41k for coffee, then 51k for for fresh Cleveland oysters. Brett and I shared some nice fresh oysters with a squeeze of lemon, yum!

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Oysters!

Lunch was at 66k, by 61k I was feeling pretty hungry and had a 4k climb. I got cramp in my calves and had to get off my bike, I walked a bit and got back on and got cramp again! Then when I got off my bike I could hardly walk either, so I hobbled to the top of the hill doing a mixture of walking and riding. Thankfully the cramp did not return after that. When I got to lunch I did not stay too long as I did not want to cool down and start to stiffen up.

From lunch it was up hill and I struggled a bit, feeling annoyed that I had not trained more but then luckily we got down to the Firth of Thames and it was pretty flat all the way to camp.

We are staying at Miranda Hot Pools camp. It has nice amenities including a hairdryer in the toilet and shower block. Plus of course the hot pools.

My first job was to put up the tent. You would think after putting it up for five and half months in South America this would have been a breeze. Sadly not so. It took me awhile to work out which bit went where, I was pleased it was not pouring with rain. Then after a shower I had a nice soak in the hot pool, followed by a rest before dinner.

There are four TDA staff compared to the 12 on the South American ride, all are new to me, including I am pleased to say the cook. We had a lovely meal of fresh salmon, asparagus, and a fresh salad of kale, capsicum, pineapple and tomatoes (could have done without the pineapple but at least it was fresh) plus couscous which normally I leave but it went straight down tonight. All the plates and cups and cooking gear is really clean, much more hygienic than the previous trip, fingers crossed it continues.

This ride started in Darwin and the group rode down to Sydney then flew across to Auckland. Sue, who I rode the South American ride with, has done from Darwin and joined us in Auckland.

Other riders I have ridden with before are:
Walli from the Trans Europa Epic
Michelle, Tony, Chris, Linda, and Peter – from the South American Epic
Plus Brett who has done both rides with me.

I headed off to the tent for an early night. It’s meant to start raining tonight and rain for the next two days, so I have rung ahead to the next place we stay, the Welcome Bay Camp and Hot Pools, and booked their last remaining cabin for tomorrow. It’s not so bad to pack up a tent when it’s raining, or put one up in the rain, but it’s pretty miserable if it’s raining at both ends.

One of the riders is tracking her rides with “Strava” which is quite interesting to see – here is the clip of today’s ride.

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Day 111/164: Villa Union to Tunnel camp (La Cianega) – 126km

Climbing 710 and down 250

We had over 100 kilometres into a strong headwind with some climbing, which made a very long day. The head wind started from the moment we left the hotel and apart from about 6 kilometres at about 30 kilometres mark, it went on until 112 kilometres. The scenery was basically desert with high mountain ranges all day, until the last 12 kilometres.

I was really dehydrated, riding in the wind makes me thirsty as I breathe through my mouth. I drank four bottles of water but was still really thirsty. At 112 kilometres I had no water left and the notes said a shop to the left, off route. What the notes didn’t say off route meant 6 kilometres to the next town. Given that it was siesta time I decided not to ride 6 kilometres there and back and risk it being shut, and then still have to ride another 14 k with no water.

The last 14 kilometres was up a steep gorge for about 4 kilometres, I was not sure with the new gearing if I would make it up a couple of the steep bits, hopefully I will get used to this new unimproved gearing before we go over the Andes into Santiago!!

We are bush camping by a tunnel. Dinner was Steak, corn, blue cheese sauce, mashed potato.

No cell service again, there appears to be no cell service at all in Argentina outside of the immediate area of towns.

There was a cold shower so I ducked in and out quickly. I kept away from the toilets though after the first time I flushed one and all the water that flushed then poured out onto the floor.

Once again a number of camp dogs with a well established pecking order so no fighting over scraps. They are well behaved and sit about two meters away from you, waiting looking hopeful rather than intrusive begging.

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Another update re earthquake in Chile

Editor Update: Hi everyone – Kelly here, further to my previous post:

I got a text from Kaye yesterday – “Safely in camp, no sign of the earthquake here”. Phew! 🙂

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