Posts Tagged With: Coffee

Day 1: Sarajevo to Mostar – 132km

132 km today: 1,100 up and 1,500 down.

I was very relieved when I woke up to find out that it was 1,100 metres climbing, not 2,000 meters.

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Today’s whiteboard (Editor’s note: Just casually a mention of landmines!! Kaye neglected to mention that part) 

To start it was a convoy for the first 15 km out of town. We rode right along Snipers Alley almost all the way to the airport. It was quite sobering to think that just over 20 years ago there were snipers targeting this area.

In the morning it was quite cool, but by 10 am it was sweltering. I had not done enough training, but two weeks before I left I had comfortably climbed Makara Hill at home, which is over 2 km with a reasonable gradient. So 30 km into the ride I was surprised to find I was struggling to get up a 4% gradient. First off I thought I must be dehydrated so I drank more water. Then I had to get off a couple of times.

Finally I got to the top and started down quite a steep decline. Halfway down I stopped to let my rims cool down (rims can get hot enough to pop your tyre with rim brakes). At this stage I became aware of my heart rate being unusually fast. The next 20 km to lunch was pretty much all downhill so I decided to keep going to lunch.

After sitting for about 10 minutes at lunch I took my pulse, it was 140 with some ectopic (extra) beats (a normal heart rate is 60 – 100). One of the other riders Kerry is a nurse so I asked her to check my pulse, she was concerned, then it turns out her husband Antony is a cardiologist, so she got him to check too.  He said my pulse wasn’t usual, but hopefully would correct itself, but no riding until my pulse was normal. So on day one (!!!) it was into the lunch truck for me.

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Overlooking the dam at Ostrozac before lunch

The ride after lunch was pretty scenic, stunning green lake and pancake mountains, but also contained a number of the numerous tunnels in this and the first section of the ride,  some short, some long, some well lit, and some in total darkness. The worst one today was 600 meters unlit with the road surface uneven.  To add to this, the traffic was heavy and there was very little shoulder.

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Afternoon along the gorge, more tunnels and river reflections

The Bosnian war also affected Mostar. Mostar is a world heritage site because of the 15 and 16 century architecture. Of most note the Mostar bridge, which was once the biggest man-made arch in the world. This bridge and many other buildings were destroyed in the conflict, but the Mostar bridge has been completely rebuilt. Link: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/946

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Photo credit: http://www.travelmint.com/destinations/mostar-bridge.asp

I am still not used to the novelty of all hotels. No tent to put when you arrive in camp, plus all the dinners are in a restaurant.

My room is tiny, just enough space for a bed and a couple of bags, but it has an ensuite, you can stand up inside it, and it doesn’t have to be packed up in the morning! Antony checked my pulse again when I arrived, it was down to 90 so heading in the right direction.

Dinner was at 7 in the restaurant. It started with a salad, then a chicken and noodle soup, followed by a meat platter with potato. Plus a dessert that I didn’t eat, which was a date pudding smothered in honey, it looked nice but I was full.

Strictly water for dinner tonight for me: no alcohol, coffee, or tea, or any other stimulant. I’m thinking it was possibly the really strong cup of coffee I had this morning that was the culprit for my increased heart rate.

Off to bed and asleep by 9. I slept really well until 6 am, so am getting adjusted to the time change.

Addition to day:
My pulse was back to a normal resting 60 beats a minute when I woke up, and I rode all day without a problem. I plan stay away from really strong coffee in future.

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Sarajevo Cathedral of Jesus’ Sacred Heart (Editor’s note: I think this was supposed to go with yesterday’s post. My bad).

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Long haul flights – first flight done

Thankfully long haul travel is like child birth – you quickly forget the realities and just remember the joy of the new baby or fond memories of the holiday.

The flight from NZ to Melbourne was uneventful, but I was close enough to the front of the plane to observe the food being served in business class.

I had a two hour stop over in Melbourne then onto to the plane for 14 hours. Luckily Rachel, my fantastic travel person, had booked me a seat with leg room so I could at least stretch my legs out and prop them up against a wall.

I was really tired and thought I would sleep ok, but the reality was I dozed off a few times for 30 or so minutes at a time. The worst bit was the screen at the front that relentlessly showed how much longer to go. I tried not to look as each time we had been travelling much less than how I felt.

I was quite anxious getting into Dubai as I had to change terminals, which involved getting to the right place where the bus left. Brett had emailed me a map but I still wandered round and round till I walked past the same security person for the third time. He started explaining to me again “you go down there, turn left and then…” but seeing the glazed look on my face he took pity on me and personally escorted me to where the shuttle bus left from.

I am now waiting to board the flight to Bosnia, I am very grubby and grumpy. I am also a bit jittery from the three cups of coffee, and pleased I packed my toothbrush in carry on.

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Day 23: Wednesday 7 Dec – Fox Glacier to Haast

119km – 1,000 meters climbing and 1,150 down

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The last three days of riding!

The weather forecast for today was not good and it turned out to be correct. I woke up a few times during the night and could hear the rain pouring down.

In the morning it was on with all the wet and warm weather gear and off out into the weather. Yoav and Asia came in to say goodbye and wish us the best for today’s ride, they were sensibly going to have another rest day.

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Wet and rainy morning (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The first 90 km was mostly flat with some rolling hills. At 25 km I had to wait at a one way bridge whilst work was being down, thankfully the workers took pity on us and let us across quickly. The rest of the day the traffic came in bursts, as it was all stopped at the bridge. There were no trucks and only one bus, and mostly camper vans and camper wagons.

At 62 km I stopped for coffee at a salmon farm, but did not look at the salmon as I was worried about getting cold. When we left the salmon farm the rain was very heavy. All the way to lunch at 77 km my coffee kept repeating on me which was not pleasant. I did not eat much at lunch as I was feeling a bit nauseous. Emily had boiled water and was making tea and coffee and also vegemite soup (I did not try it, I just had tea) which was greatly appreciated.

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Rainy and wet lunch stop (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

There was a self supported rider – Ida – coming the other direction, so we waved her over to have something to eat and a warm drink. Ida said she had started cycling from Bluff 7 days earlier, she rode for 8 hours every day, and then camped at the side of the road if there was no campsite. Not sure that I would be brave enough to do that.

The one good thing about the rain is that it kept the bugs at bay, although there were a few sand flies hovering under the awning at lunch.

At Bruce Bay there are a stack of rocks and small boulders that passing tourists have written their name on, and now it has become an attraction. All different nationalities.

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The stones at Bruce Bay

Brett rode down here with a group at the beginning of 2015 and said it was a very nice ride, but with the rain and mist it was hard to see much of anything today.

At 92 km we had a hill climb for 6 km, the tail wind assisted us, then a big downhill then rolling hills, and flat the rest of the way to camp. At about 100 km I could hear my bike making a click click sound, but couldn’t see anything when I got off my bike to have a look. So I kept going, hoping it would get me to camp.

There were a number of signs along the way “Coffee in 8 km at Bruce Bay”, “Coffee in 2 km at Bruce Bay”, but once we got to Bruce Bay nothing was open – or even looked like coffee stop! Then as I got closer to camp the signs said “Whitebait fritters 3 km”, “Whitebait fritters 500 m”, “Whitebait fritters by the bridge” then “Whitebait fritters closed”. I would have stopped if they had been open.

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Outside the Haast Information Centre

Tonight we stayed at the Haast Top 10, I was really pleased I had a cabin and also it had a heater, shower and toilet, and jug. I was totally soaked so it was very good to get out of my wet clothes. The cabin was quickly turned into a Chinese laundry with wet weather gear drying on every available surface. I was still cold so crawled into bed to warm up and napped and read until dinner time.

I had a book emergency – I only had a few pages left and my next book was in my permanent bag which I wouldn’t get again until Friday. Luckily there was a book swap in reception. Not great pickings, three books about werewolves, two books written in German, a number of love stories,  and a Jeffrey Archer book called “Mightier than the Sword” which seemed to be the best choice. I had just finished a book by Minette Walters called The shape of snakes which was better expected.

Micah looked at my bike for me. He straightened the derailleur and fixed a cable, and said it should get to Queenstown (approx 220 km) but after that I will need to take into to get the freewheel looked at. Hopefully it doesn’t just go like it did in Peru, if it does the bike is not ride-able.

Luckily there was a covered area where dinner could be cooked and eaten. Dinner was macaroni cheese with bacon with a crunchy top, and a walnut and apple and cucumber salad. The weather forecast predicts a fine day tomorrow so fingers crossed.  Tomorrow we have have 1,700 meters climbing including a steep climb through what is known as the Gates of Haast.

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Ship Creek

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Day 22: Monday 5 Dec – Hari Hari to Fox Glacier

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.

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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.

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Wonder how popular this is?

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At the coffee stop in Whataroa

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Loved this sign at coffee stop at Whataroa

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.

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Leaving Franz Joseph (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Leaving Franz Joseph (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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.

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On the climb between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier

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Made it 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.

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Fox Glacier

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Fox Glacier

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Fox Glacier

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Fox Glacier

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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Categories: Trans-Oceania, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments