Posts Tagged With: Hills

Day 25: Friday 9 Dec ‚Äď Lake Hawea to Queenstown

94km to ride – 1,244 to climb and 1,241 down

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Last day’s climb!

It was a beautiful morning. There was no wind, the sun was shining and the lake looked stunning.

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Early morning on Lake Hawea (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Before breakfast we all met down at the lake in our Trans Oceania riders shirts to have a group photo. Well all of us that is apart from Dan, who apparently never wears the ride shirt, not even for the five minute for a group photo . . . each to their own.

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Group photo, before setting off for the final day of riding (Photo credit: TDA Facebook page)

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The group photo with the banner

In the photo the front riders are holding the Trans Oceania Ride Banner – or so it seems! Actually this has been photoshopped in as the actual banner disappeared during the trip. The riders in the front row just had to have their hands out as if they were holding it.

There were a number of group photos, plus a photo of Tony the tallest rider (6 ft 4) with his bike and Lani (about 5ft) and her bike, as well as a photo where Tony had lifted Lani onto his bike and her feet couldn’t touch the peddles!

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Anne has got her mountain bike with her and kindly offered to bring it to me and take my bike if my bike breaks down today. I felt much better reassured that one way or another I will be able to complete the ride as I set off.

The first few kilometres were rolling hills and then through Wanaka for a brief look at the town, then onto the Cardona pub for a coffee.

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Cardrona Hotel

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Coffee stop at Cardrona Hotel

Just before the pub is the Cardona Brewery, and along the fence are hundreds of bras. I found out after it’s for breast cancer awareness.

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Passing the Cardrona Distillery and the bra fence.

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Cardrona – or Bradrona? – Valley (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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Cardrona Valley (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After the coffee stop the climbing for the day began – the Cardona Crown Range needed to be climbed ūüėź. The first few kms were not too bad, a steady upwards gradient but the last kilometre to the top my legs went on strike and I was off walking (I found out later so did at least half of the riders).

Lunch was at the top but I wasn’t hungry, and did not think about making anything to eat later as I had forgotten dinner wasn’t till 8 pm.

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At the top of the Crown Range, only 40km to the finish.

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Michele at the Crown Range summit (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

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Sue on the Crown Range Pass (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

After lunch lots of downhill, firstly quite steep and then a big switch back. I have rim brakes so had to stop to let the rims cool half way down the hill.

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Switchbacks to zoom down (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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Crown Range pass (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Once down the bottom it was 5 km to Arrowtown where we stopped and had a drink with Sue at the Pub. With 20 km to go Tick Tock was still clicking and rattling along.

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Drinks stop in Arrowtown

I rode with Sue from Arrowtown, Brett rode ahead so he could take a photo of Sue finishing the ride. We are not having a convoy or finish line photo due to the difference in riding abilities – a few riders would have to wait for at least 2 -3 hours and the slowest would feel the pressure all day. Sue has achieved EFI (every f*cking inch) on this ride. This is great achievement as there were some really long hot days in the Australian section of this ride, plus a few days of pouring rain and floods.

Into Queenstown, yay we are here! Just a few steepish streets and then we made it to the¬†Earnslaw Lodge, the finish hotel. We needed to box the bike straight away as the owners won’t have them in the hotel unless they are boxed. Pretty reasonable really and saves doing it tomorrow.

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Arriving at the hotel in Queenstown

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Sue and Kaye celebrate! (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We have a room with a lovely view over the lake and a balcony. We had 3 hours to relax, get cleaned up and over the road by 7 to the Copthorne, where we have a video presentation of the ride at 7pm and then dinner at 8pm.

The total kilometres for the trip was 2,278km, and climbed 23,628m. There were no serious injuries. Sue got EFI the whole trip, and of the riders who joined in Auckland Kevin, Charles, Bill, Michele, Tony, Chris, Linda, Brett and I rode EFI.

The Earnslaw is not right by the town center and I did not think about going down to town to get any food so by now I was starting to get hungry. The presentation was good, then there were a few speeches, and Sue was presented with her EFI medallion, plus we had all got together and signed a book of NZ photos for Sue in recognition of her EFI.

 

We had another group photo, and Dan who never wears the ride shirt was wearing it at dinner, so he managed to stick out again for the opposite reason!

We went up to dinner, which was nice food – pumpkin soup and a roll, salmon and mashed potatoes, a piece of broccoli, plus a panna cotta dessert, but not in right the quantity for hungry riders! We convinced the staff to give us another roll each which helped.

After dinner a few of us went to the hotel bar for another drink. People are starting to leave from tomorrow so we may not see them again unless we met up on another ride.

Then it was across the road to bed, no riding tomorrow but we do have to change hotels.

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Sunset over Earnslaw Lodge, from the arrival dinner.

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Day 24: Thursday 8 Dec – Haast to Lake Hawea

128km to ride – climbing 1,465 meters and 1,100 down

Today the weather was fine and not to cold. My biggest concern was my bike may not get through the next two days. When I am riding with Brett he doesn’t have to look behind to see if I am with him, my bike has been renamed Tick Tock, it clatters and clicks and rattles along.

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A sign we saw leaving camp this morning

Today we have to ride through the Gates of Haast which is quite steep, but the ride is pretty much an uphill gradient all day. The first 50km it was quite cool in temperature as we were going along the river with lots of overhanging trees.

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Cloud clearing along Haast River Valley

When I got to the Gates of Haast I got ¬†up 400m of the 1km steep hill before getting off and walking, till it flattened out a bit. There was a “loss of brakes” run off with an uphill, but with the winding and steepness of the road I would suspect vehicles would go off the road before they got to this point, unless the breaks had only just failed. Part of the way up the hill I made the mistake of looking over the side – bad move it was really steep and the river was a very long way down.

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Gates of Haast (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

Lunch was at 61km, when we got there the two TDA staff were in the van, which was unusual, normally they are sitting outside. The reason quickly became apparent: the local population of insects had also arrived for lunch. Luckily I had sprayed with Bush Man’s repellent before leaving camp this morning, but other riders got very badly bitten. After lunch it was about 2 km to the top of the hill, then some nice down hill.

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Climbing, climbing, climbing (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Gates of Haast

At 81km we stopped and had a drink, 47km to go. I set off thinking “Ok another 3 hours to camp, that’s not bad” but actually it was endless. It was only 3 hours, but it was hilly, there was a head wind, and every corner you came around you could see another hill stretching away in the distance.

We were riding through some stunning beautiful scenery and I was not appreciating it at all. I ran out of water and ran out of any enthusiasm, after a number of hills I started muttering to myself about “f****in hills”.

I found at camp most riders had felt the same, that the day was hard and endless, which made me feel better. Riders who got to camp before us also ran out of water so the lunch truck went back to give water, neither Brett or I saw or heard it go past. I was just totally focused on pushing myself to keep on riding to camp.

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Made it to the top of Haast Pass

Once I got to camp and was no longer focused on the the tarmac stretching endlessly into the distance, I noticed the stunning scenery. Lake Hawea is beautiful. The campgrounds were stunning, right by the lake with lots of trees and a great big open fire. We had a cabin so headed off to shower and change.

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Lake Hawea (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Today we had Jim from Timaru come to visit and stay for dinner. Jim has done a couple of TDA rides so was keen to catch up with Brett, Walli, Ray and Ursula. Jim bought a big box of cold beer which was appreciated by all the riders.

We also had Phil, Anne and Graham join us and stay the night here and a couple of nights in Queenstown. Phil is the rider who was injured in the South American ride (he came off his bike going down hill and had a bad head injury). Phil is making steady progress but has not been able to return to work (ICU nurse) and gets tired very easily. Anne and Graham are two of his good friends who are driving him to and from Christchurch to see everyone.

It was great to see Phil again. Brett and I had caught up with him in March in Christchurch where we had met Anne and Graham (we stayed at Anne’s house). Sue and Chris were on the South American trip so they were pleased to meet up with Phil again as well.

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Phil Kissel and Jim Pearce joined us for last night celebration dinner.

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South American Epic 2015 reunion! (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

As it was the last night in camp TDA had put on some wine and cheese followed by another amazing meal by Yarnez.

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Nice place for wine and cheese (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Yarnez pulled out all the stops tonight: steak (all options from rare to well done) with burnase sauce (yellow stuff) plus asparagus, salad and then a baked Alaska! Unbelievable. (Editor’s note: I think Mum means¬†b√©arnaise sauce )¬†

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Yarnez’s Baked Alaska surprise

After dinner we were handed out our trip riding tops for photos the next morning. It is hard to believe that tomorrow is the last riding day already.

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Gorgeous views from the campsite (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Sunset over Lake Hawea (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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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 20: Saturday 3 Dec ‚Äď Westport to Greymouth

103km to ride today – 1,450 meters climbing up and down.

This morning breakfast was in the motel car park.  The TDA staff had set up the tables as usual, boiled water for tea and coffee, and put out cereal and yoghurt. Yarnez the chef also had bought filled pastries Рbacon and egg or chicken and mushroom.

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Breakfast in the motel carpark. Bob from Canada in the front of the photo

I set off today feeling pretty positive about the ride – good distance, not much climbing, and feeling the benefit of the rest day. I need to focus on doing more stretching as I have a bit of tightness behind my knee.

There was no wind but despite the weather forecast saying no rain, rain looked imminent.

As I was riding along I saw a number of Weka crossing the road, and suddenly the stories from the other riders of seeing kiwis crossing the road made sense. If you did not really know what a Kiwi looked like and its habitat, you could get confused. Weka are brown, about the right size, but of course they have different feathers and a much shorter bill (not to mention living in the grassland and being out in the daylight).

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The “Kiwi” out in daylight

What an amazing ride today, the West Coast is so pretty. The coastline is a bit wild and rocky which I much prefer compared to pristine white sandy beaches.

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Great riding along coast today on SH6

The hills were generally kind (no more than 5% gradient) or they had a good downhill and you could get up most of the next hill for free.

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Another hill to climb

It rained not long after leaving camp, but only for about 5 minutes, so I didn’t stop and put on wet weather gear. However at 26 km it started again and got quite heavy so I stopped and put on my coat. Thankfully the rain stopped after about 30 minutes and held off for the rest of the day.

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Coming into Punakaiki

At 55km we came to the Punakaiki Rocks, also known as pancake rocks because the rocks are layered, they get limestone in between the rocky layer which gets compressed and gives it the pancake look.

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Editors Caption: Despite mentioning these amazing rocks, Kaye neglected to send me any photos, so here’s a photo from¬†Sue’s blog

Lunch was at 74 km, it was nice to stop knowing 75% of the ride for the day was complete.

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The beach at the lunch stop

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The beach at lunch stop – showing how big the pebbles are (Editor’s note: Yet Kaye sent me not one, but TWO photos of the beach at the lunch stop, which she failed to even mention in her writing . . . )

When we arrived at camp two of the TDA staff were whacking themselves with fly swats, they were being bitten quite badly by small bugs. Dan, one of the other riders, was also bring bitten, but although they swarmed around my face they left me alone (due to my daily application of Bushman’s Friend insect repellant).

At about 90 km I realised I was not enjoying the ride as much and then I realised the wind was back. Luckily I only had a few more km to camp.

Tonight we stayed at the Greymouth Top 10 Holiday Park. It was a pretty nice camp, the biggest I have stayed in. It has a number of toilet blocks, heaps of camper wagon parks, tent sites and cabins and motels.

As it was looking like rain was quite likely, we asked how much it would cost to upgrade from a tent site to a basic cabin. $17 we were told. We thought that was pretty cheap, $17 each, but no it was $17 for the cabin. No need to even think about it, why would you not.

Unfortunately about an hour after we arrived a bunch of young guys arrived, full of Saturday night or holiday joy, and they are in the same block of cabins. Hopefully they are going out but if not that’s why I bring the iPod on these trips.

Tonight for dinner we had chicken casserole with rice, with nuts and cranberries, plus salad, with a shared bottle of Obsidian Montepulciano from Waiheke Island.

After dinner I was talking to Kevin from Canada. Kevin and his wife started a raw food dog company a number of years ago. They sell to the top end of the market and import venison and lamb from NZ for their dog food. I asked Kevin how he got into this and it was because he had bought some food for his dog that was contaminated, and the dog nearly died. So they started making their own, then friends started buying it, and it just grew from there.

After dinner I went for a walk along the beach. The beach was really stony and had lots of interesting coloured stones. Now time for an early night, and off again in the am.

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Beautiful ride today

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Day 17: Wednesday 30 Nov ‚Äď Nelson to Murchison

152km today – 1,700 meters climbing and 1,600 meters down

 

It rained over night a few times but had stopped by 6am. The tent was wet but I carry a rubbish bag for this, to stop it getting everything else in my bag wet.

I was a bit daunted by the ride today, lots of climbing and a long way. Riding out of Nelson we followed mainly back roads, to keep away from the traffic.

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Back roads from Nelson to Murchison

We stopped in Wakefield at approx 35 km for coffee. While drinking coffee Tony noticed my back wheel had gone flat. On closer inspection my tyre had a number of cuts in the tyre so tonight at camp I will need to change tyres. I decided to hope that it would get through the day with no further problems. To add to this, when packing without thinking I had picked up the spare mountain bike inner tubes from my bike shed, so guess what I had in my bike bag! Luckily Brett had a spare tube, and him and Tony kindly got my bike sorted while Michele and finished our coffee.

Next we turned off into quite a pleasant valley, but then the climb started. Clearly I had not paid much attention the previous night at rider’s meeting, as this climb was for the next 37km until 90km where it was mostly downhill. I was very daunted, not sure if I am up to this. This was not like the switch backs on the South American ride where it was pretty much a 5% gradient with a small flat bit at each end. This was the longest 37km of the trip so far.

At lunch at 71km there was none of joviality of the day before with 19 km of climbing to go. Thankfully not all of it was climbing, there were some downhills as well. Then yay at 90km, mostly downhill from there.

However at this point we were now back on the Kaikoura to Christchurch bypass route and trucks plus cars again. There were four in a row and some way too close. I am also not reassured by the gouges in the grass and knocked over fences when what was a clearly a heavy vehicle had come off the road. As before I would move right off when I got the chance, and was constantly looking behind me.

When you are going reasonably fast downhill the wind is whistling in your ears and you don’t always hear¬†them. Even with all the precautions I got a few scares and rode off into a ditch once.

We stopped at the Owen Tavern at 133 km and spoke to a couple of truck drivers. They told us that there are 500 to 700 extra trucks a day on this road, and most of these drivers are not used to the road and are driving too fast for the road. Not reassuring news with 20 more kilometres on this road today and 13 kilometres tomorrow before we leave the Kaikoura – Christchurch traffic diversion.

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Outside Owen Pub РJustina from Switzerland, From Canada: Bill in the bright yellow, Kelvin and Don

Off to camp, on the way caught up with Guy from Canada. It is his first TDA ride, and where he comes from there are no hills to mention, so as a consequence he is finding this ride very challenging. Plus Ray and Ursula also from Canada, this is about their 5th ride but the first time I have met them.

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5km from camp my back tire started going flat again! I decided to pump it ip rather than change the tube. At 2km out it had to be pumped again and I was very relieved to ride into camp after 11.5 hours out on the bike.

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Campsite (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

It was quite a nice little camp ground, some old hydro huts for rent very cheaply, but as my tent was wet I wanted to put it up. There was a nice seating area covered with a roof and along one side with a nice view of the river. Also the home of lots of biting insects, my bushman’s insect repellent was popular. There were good kitchen facilities and Yarnez the chef excelled at dinner: roast lamb with roasted potato, gravy, mint sauce, asparagus and cabbage, capsicum, slaw¬† yum !!!! Not quite so yum that we succumbed to cask Mystique River Red wine. That was a mistake to only be made once.

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Michele and Walli with Buller river in the background

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Having a sign would make me suspect this had been a problem

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Day 13: Saturday 26 Nov – Martinborough to Wellington

97km, 900 approx up and down

It was gale force wind during the night so I was very pleased to be in a cabin. There was a group of guys down the back of the camp for some sort of bloke weekend away. They were quite rowdy at the beginning of the night but then thankfully headed off out.

At 12:30am the morons were back, driving through the camp blasting their car horn and laughing and talking. In the morning I was amused to see one of their tents had collapsed on them and they were still in it fast asleep (evidenced by the loud snoring coming from it). I’m not sure if one of the other campers had removed their pegs, or it was just bad putting-up-tent technique.

It was cold and blustery eating breakfast, so I was off on the bike as quickly as possible.

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Wellington is on the other side of that hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The 16km ride to Featherston was pretty windy, but it was nothing compared to when we turned at Featherston to go down the Western Lake Road. The wind was so strong it was all I could do to hold my bike on the road. At least three times I got pushed over onto the gravel.

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Weather on the Featherston Side

It was looking like it was going to rain at any moment. I rode past the Wasp noting that she had no bike bag and was wearing just a biking top and short shorts. I asked her about wet weather gear and she said she didn’t have any. I rode along feeling really worried and annoyed. Worried because she could get exposure, and annoyed because all the riders were warned about changeable conditions and annoyed that if I or anyone else came across her and she was cold and wet we would have to share our clothing and put ourselves at risk also.

The TDA truck went past just before the turn off to the incline, checking on riders and it parked by the incline start. I went up and told them that the Wasp had no wet weather gear, that I was seriously worried if she went up the incline dressed as she was, and that I was passing the responsibility to them.

Off up the Rimutaka Incline. It’s an old railway track between Featherston and Wellington. In the past¬†a¬†fell engine pulled the train up the Featherston side and it was a normal train down the other.

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Single track into the start of the Incline

The gradient going up from Featherston is a bit steeper and rocky, plus the wind was blowing with gusto at us.

At near the top is a gully you have to go up and down where there used to a bridge. This part is known as Siberia as it is so bleak and cold with wind gusts. This was a site of a serious accident when the wind was so strong it pushed a fell engine carriage off the tracks and sadly four children died.

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Siberia – in the wind and rain (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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No bridge left so we have to go down and back up (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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Before one of the tunnels on the Rimutaka Incline

Through the final (third) tunnel on the way up the wind was roaring through the tunnel.
We got out to the other side to find it was bucketing down. Thankfully there was a shelter up the top where we were able to get changed into our wet weather gear.

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Long tunnel to The Summit Sat 26 Nov

With the rain and the wind and down gradient for about 10km (a lot of it quite exposed) I was feeling relieved that I told the TDA staff about the Wasp’s lack of wet weather clothing. (I found out later that she got the TDA truck over the hill to lunch, by which time it had stopped raining).

It poured all the way down the incline. At times the rain felt like needles going into your face (the only exposed skin). I was warm as I had a coat, hat, thermal gloves, and over pants – but I couldn’t find my overshoes, drat. I had one plastic bag so put it over one foot. There were about 8 riders all pulling on their wet weather gear.

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Riding on the Rimutaka incline

Once we got to the bottom of the incline it stopped raining. We followed a bike path along the Hutt river to lunch, and then all the way to Petone. It took much longer than going straight down SH2 but it meant not worrying about traffic and was something new to me.

It bought us out at the end of the Petone Esplanade which runs along the sea front. We followed this, then back to SH2, then the old Hutt road into Wellington.

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Peeling off muddy gear at Petone on bike path. Nearly into Wellington.

We stayed at the Apollo Court Motels in Marjorie Banks Street. It was very central, 2 minutes walk from Courtney Place, and an easy walk to the rest of the city.

I got cleaned up, as there was mud over the bike, my clothes, my bike bag and shoes, so it took a while to clean up. Then it was time to go and meet my son Dan for dinner. Dan lives in a mid city apartment.

We stopped and got cheese and wine on the way (Pepperjack Shiraz, plus Castello blue and white cheese, and a fresh French stick). When we got there Dan bought out a bottle of champagne to celebrate that he had finished his University year with First Class Honors and a grade point average that gives him an automatic PH.D. Scholarship. It was very exciting news and well earned as Dan has worked extremely hard this year. I am very proud of him.

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Celebrating with my son Dan

We decided to go to Great India in Manners Street for dinner. I have been there a few times and always like the food, plus acoustically it’s great as well. After dinner I said goodbye to Dan as he was working the next morning so he was not interested into continuing on to the Havana Bar with Brett and I.

We met Michele, Tony and Walli in Cuba Mall and went off to the Havana Bar.¬†It was pretty busy but as we walked though the bar a group got up and left and we were able to jump into their just vacated spot. I enjoyed a couple of very nice ParrotDog Pilsners¬†– a local Wellington brewery. Having had wine at Dan’s flat and with dinner I was feeling the effects, hence returning to beer.

We stayed there for a couple of hours then decided to make our way home. I decided that, as it was very close to our motel and totally different to Havana, I should also take my friends to the Welsh Bar that is in Courtney Place. Walli decided wisely to leave us at this stage.

It certainly was a very different atmosphere – quite crowded but the crowd was friendly and they had quite a good singer so we stayed for awhile. It was about 12:30 by the time we got home.

I went to sleep feeling very happy with Dan’s news, and excited and looking forward to be catching up with three of my other children and my three grandchildren the next day.

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Sun out before the storm

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Rimutaka Incline before the storm

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Day 12: Friday 25 Nov – Eketahuna to Martinborough

A much easier day today Р110km with 850 meters to climb, 1030 down.

I set off looking forward to be riding in familiar territory once I got to Masterton. On our notes we had 60km to ride to Masterton but the sign at Ekatahuna said it was 20km down SH2, clearly we were going to be following the more scenic route!.

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Masterton for Coffee

It was quite a good ride, lots of hills but generally you could get up most of them for free. We did like a figure of 8 before coming into Masterton. Some of the riders view is that we were a bit short on the planned kilometres for the ride, others were of the view that the plan was to keep us off the main roads.

I stopped in Masterton for a coffee and had a cinnamon scone. 5 km later was the lunch truck. Not surprisingly having just eaten a scone I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t stop for lunch

The ride took us the back way to Martinbrough past the back of Gladstone. I did think about calling into the Gladstone Pub, as it has very nice food, but rain was looking imminent so I kept going. At the Gladstone turn off we went on to the route where the Martinborough Charity ride goes  (one of the Lake Taupo lead up rides). It is much easier going this way to Martinborough rather than from Martinborough to Masterton.

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Figurines on the way to Martinborough

Even though my notes said 110 km, in my mind it had morphed into 120km so I was surprised to get to Martinbrough more quickly than expected. I said to Brett the camp must be out of town awhile, and he of course had no idea why I thought that, until I said I was working on 120km.

We arrived at the Top 10 which is 800m from the town center, and the rain that had been imminent all day started to bucket down. I was pleased to have a cabin. Sadly the cabin has no toilet, but is close to the shower and toilet block.

After a shower we headed off up town, first stop was the micro brewery for a tasting paddle and a food platter. The lack of lunch was starting to kick in.We shared two tasting paddles between four of us. Eight¬†glasses on each paddle, starting with a really nice crisp red apple cider. Usually I don’t like cider but I did like this. Then we worked from lager to black / stout. I did not like the stout but I really liked the one before it, called a wee Scottish porter.

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Beer¬†tasting, with Tony and Brett (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

After that we went to the wine center and did a wine tasting of a wine called Armitash? Need to check the name (Editor’s note: Don’t panic guys, Kaye emailed me a few days later – the wine was Ashwell). Then to the 4-square for some snacks and back to camp.

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Dull, cloudy and grey sky (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Dinner was smashed potatoes with chilli con-carne on top and salad. Michelle and Tony and Brett and I produced the same bottle of wine for dinner: Squawking Magpie Syrah (from the Hawkes Bay gimlet gravel area).

My friend Julie, who lives in Featherston, arrived as we were finishing dinner. We moved pretty quickly to the cabin as it was cold and blustery weather. It was good to see Julie and catch up with all her news.

The weather tomorrow is not looking great but I am feeling pretty excited as I get to Wellington tomorrow, and I will get to catch up with my  Wellington based children and my three grand babies.

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Others camping in tents tonight (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Day 11: Thursday 24 Nov – Porangahau to Eketahuna

133km today – 1850 meters climbing, 1540 k down

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Today’s ride

Another big day of riding, but thankfully it’s not as hot as yesterday. No shops to buy a snack or a drink until about 70km so I preloaded on water and made a sandwich.

The first 5 km was flat so I had some time to get the legs warmed up, then up a hill but thankfully not the one we rode down yesterday.

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Back over the river out of camp (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Some of the hills were pretty steep. As I was climbing up one of them I thought to my self that although I had¬†made a sandwich, I didn’t remember actually packing it into my bike pack. I got to the top of the hill and got off my bike to check. Drat! I had left it behind, plus I ate my emergency snack the other day and have not yet replaced it! So I was now worried about how long it will take to get to 70 km and how much climbing there would be, as I am seriously worried about bonking (a riders term for completely running out of energy due to lack of food).

Then I thought”Yay the 2nd truck has not yet gone past, I may be able to get something off that”. Less than 2 minutes later the truck came past so I did a thumbs down which signals them to stop. Thumbs up means you’re ok and they go past. Luckily they had a few bananas so they gave me one.

Off I went, much more happy, and ate the banana about 10km.

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Obligatory tourist photo with the world’s longest place name

The day was nice and warm, not much wind, with a few climbs. There was one quite big descent and I could see a big climb looming, but then yay there was a flag and we took the road to the left. A really nice gradual downhill of about 10 km following a river bed.

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Some downhill ahead, yippee (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I stopped at 70 km at the shop and had an ice cream: pecan nut and caramel. It was a bit sweet but it tasted really good. Then I headed off again.

The day wore on and the legs were getting tired. The last couple of hills I got off and walked a bit.

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Coming down after another climb

We finally arrived in Eketahuna. Never did I imagine I would be thrilled to arrived in Eketahuna, but thrilled I was.

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Eketahuna, I love you.

We stopped at the Eketahuna Pub after 9 1/2 hours on the bike – that cold beer tasted really good. Then 2km to camp.

The camp was surprisingly busy with motor homes, and more arrived after we got there.
I got the tent up, had a shower, and then it was dinner time. Dinner was chicken casserole -the chicken was really tender and tasty, with white rice, salad and caramelised  pumpkin with feta sprinkled on top. Michele and Tony shared a bottle of Moana Park Merlot with us.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is not looking great: rain plus gale force winds. We are staying at a Top Ten so I rang and booked a cabin.

It took awhile to get to sleep, as unsurprisingly¬†the other camp residents weren’t planning to go to bed at 7:30pm! But I was quite happy after a big day dozing in my sleeping bag, listening to music on the iPod.

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Eketahuna (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Day 10: Wednesday 23 Nov, Napier to Porangahau

Riding 120km – climbing 1150 meters, down 1050 meters

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Next stage into Wellington!

It was very warm today and sunny, with no wind first thing. We started off with an amazing breakfast cooked at the motel. As they don’t have a restaurant it was in the conference room. The chef and owner must have taken seriously that we ate a lot, as there was stacks of cereal and cooked food.

We have three new riders joining us for this section. TDA had an offer that people could do a section for free if they were interested to see what a TDA ride would be like. Joining us are Tim and his dad Steve. Tim has ridden with TDA before but is keeping his dad company, plus Veronica from Auckland.

Veronica sat at breakfast with Sue and I, asking lots of questions about TDA and the ride, and then wanted to know about other rides we had done. Once she heard we had done the South American ride she wanted to know all about it. I was trying to be polite but I was also trying to eat breakfast and get away on the bike before it got too hot out there.¬† So in answer to her question “How was it?”, my informative response was “Good” whilst shoving more food into my mouth. “What was good?” she asked. “Um, everything” I said.

I find it’s really hard to sum up the South American ride in a few words, especially when I’m¬†not interested in having the conversation in the first place. However Veronica did not pick up on my lack of interest in a conversation, and kept on asking questions. Thankfully it turns out I could ride faster than her so was able to evade any further questioning for the day. (By the end of the four days I had nicknamed her the wasp, as she kept coming at you with questions about everything).

We set out in the lovely sun, the first 8 km was bike trails. There are so many bike paths here leading off in all directions. Whilst we were on the winery tour yesterday a number of people arrived on bikes following bike trails to get there.

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Departing Napier on the coastal path

We rode on back roads from Napier all the way to Waipawa. It was really nice to be away from the traffic.

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A traffic jam on New Zealand back roads (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I stopped in Waipawa for a drink . It was so hot I had already drunk both bottles of water. The cafe was happy for me to fill up my water bottles there.

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Home town in sight!

From Waipawa to Waipukurau we were on the main state highway which was not fun, so I was pleased to turn off to Porangahau. It was a nice country road with rolling hills, but then off course a gravel road thrown in, just because there is one. On the way I passed a sign for “Ugly Hills Road”, someone has a sense of humour and am only surprised TDA didn’t send us up it.

Christian (TDA) had said at the lunch stop that it’s pretty windy up on the gravel track so you can take the road instead, it’s an extra 11km. We decided to take the gravel road, well it was certainly steep, and the gravel was so thick in places you had to get off and walk. At the top it was so windy I was pushed off the bike twice, so I walked a bit. At the end of the gravel was a really steep tarmac road downhill. I was hoping that we would not have to ride up it in the morning.

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Old Hill Road, with gale force NW’er, cycling on gravel

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View from the gravel track (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Once I got down the hill it was just 5km on the flat to camp. When we got there we were surprised to see a rider who is slower than us, and who was at the lunch truck when we were there, was¬†at camp already. I said “It must have been a pretty good 11km stretch of road” and she told us Christian had it wrong, it wasn’t an extra 11km it was 11km instead of 8km so it was only 3km more. If I had known that I would have certainly have taken the road!

It was not a bad camp spot, it was sheltered, no shops or wifi but good showers.

It was about 4pm by the time I got to camp so I had a wee doze once I had put up my tent. That night for dinner we had pork chops, which the chef had managed to cook for nearly 30 people and were still tender, plus potato with rosemary in it and salad. We shared a bottle of Moana Malbeck Merlot with Michelle and Tony.

I was in my tent, tucked up in my sleeping bag, eyes closed, by 7:30pm.

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Looking down onto Porangahau (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

 

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Day 8: Monday 21 Nov, Kurpipapango to Napier

Today 810 meters climbing and 1,300 down and only 82km to Napier, with the next day being a rest day. Sounds good, the only drawback is the 10km of uphill first up.

My legs felt ok when I first got onto the bike, so 900m of shingle up to the main road then 500 meters until a big steep hill. To my shame I was off my bike and pushing less than 2km into the ride. I was hoping the whole 10km was not as steep, as other wise I would take over 3 hours to get 10km. Thankfully the gradient decreased so I got back on my bike and did not have to push my bike again for the rest of the day.

There were lots of steep bits but lots of dips too, so if you got a really good run up them most of the time you could get to the top in the big gear. A few I still had to push. It was lovely and warm, with blue sky and great views.

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View of Hawkes Bay

Before I knew it the lunch truck was in sight at 61km. The mood of the other riders was as jovial as mine. Only 21 km to ride and at the most 100 meters of climbing to go.

Back on the road again, 5km along a bike trail then onto the main road heading into the city. It was not too busy as it was only 12:30 pm.

We were staying at Bk Fountain Court Motel, nice rooms, comfy bed and a bath ūüėÄ. This time there was only one washing machine and it was only open 1pm to 8pm, so I decided to wait till tomorrow and go down town to do my laundry when I go out to have breakfast.

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Tony outside our motel (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

After a shower I set off down town with Brett, Michele and Tony for a cold beer. We went to a lovely old hotel called The Emporium Eatery and Bar, which is part of the Art Deco Masonic Hotel. It was built in 1861, destroyed by fire, rebuilt, destroyed by the 1931 earthquake, then rebuilt.

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Kaye’s Great Gatsby entrance at the ¬†Masonic Hotel Napier

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Emporium Cafe & Bar Napier

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Emporium Cafe & Bar Napier

We had cold beer, and a pizza and chips to share. Sitting out on the Napier esplanade in the warm afternoon sun was great, there was no wind.

 

We googled a number of places for dinner but most of them were closed on Monday. We decided to go to a place in the old Napier port called The Thirsty Whale, which had good reviews. However we were not keen to walk there as it was over 5km away and I felt I had done enough exercise for the day. So we decided to get a taxi.

We flagged one down in the street, what a miserable chap he was! He was Norwegian and had been here for a couple of years, and did not much like New Zealand or Napier. When asked what bought him here he said ‘A plane’.

Anyway, he reckons New Zealand houses are shit, and the people in Napier are small minded. I was tempted to ask him why he was still here. When we got to the Restaurant I told him to keep the change, that worried him as well. Tony got his card off him as we would want a taxi to go back.

We got a great table on the deck at the restaurant. To start we shared a bottle of Hãhã Sparkling Brut with the Parmesan bread. Then we had an Ash Ridge Sauvignon Blanc with our meals. I had a very nice version burger.

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Napier old harbour – Thirsty Whale

We asked the people in the restaurant to call us a taxi as we did not want the happy Norwegian – well guess who turned up. Unfortunately Michelle and I got the giggles.
He was less happy, nearly drove out in front of a couple of cars whilst sharing more of his views on Napier and the people. Apparently the people here have nothing better to do than turn the street signs round the wrong way! Really will watch out for that.

Back to the motel and in bed by 8:30pm, yay a rest day tomorrow. At midday 8 of us are off on a wine trip.

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Mon 21 Napier

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