Posts Tagged With: Honest hills

Day 20: Saturday 3 Dec – 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 – bacon 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 12: Friday 25 Nov – Eketahuna to Martinborough

A much easier day today – 110km 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 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 😀. 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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Day 68: Molina de Aragon to Sacedon – 109k

5,448km down: 777km to go

How nice it was to wake up in a bed, even though for some reason mine had a plastic undersheet, so it crinkled every time I turned over, but I still slept well. Breakfast was amazing, fresh fruit, TOAST, homemade cake, meat platters, juice, proper coffee, plus freshly made omelettes. The lady came out and said “Anyone like an omelette?” and eight rider’s hands went up instantly. We were joking that next time the tour books in there the owner will say “Ok, 8 riders? That equals food for 18” and charge accordingly. The people running the place were really friendly and we all thought it was fantastic. We all left rested, well fed, and happy. I think it would have been a different scenario if we had stayed on a sports ground (aka piece of dirt) and had to use one shower between us, like was originally planned.

On the way out of town there was an amazing monastery, I took a photo but it doesn’t show how big it is. The fence goes for ages around a hill, and there are also buildings at the back.

Monastery on the hill

Christiano talks about how this tour is not just physically testing, but also psychological testing. Not only do you have to get along with a group of riders you have never met, staying at campsites with other noisy campers that stay up until the wee hours, barking dogs, enthusiastic roosters, heat, and bugs. But added to this, you have no idea of the day ahead, no idea how high or long the hills are, unlike when you do your usual route at home, so you are always holding a bit in reserve in case you get the killer hill. But it also adds to the fun, as like today you have fairly low expectations and end up with one of the best rides of the tour.

It was really cold this morning once we had left the hotel, it was only 7 degrees, and of course having rationalized my panniers my jacket was in my daily bag that had left in the truck already. The hotel was really warm, so the cold was unexpected. Thinking about it later though the hotel had really thick concrete walls which would hold in the heat. (I have now pulled my jacket out ready for tomorrow morning).

We rode the first 70k around the perimeter of a national park called Parque Natural Alto Tajo. It was very scenic, with trees, cliffs, and even a deer running across the road. Plus there was a very pretty river / pond area. Amazingly enough, you are allowed to take dogs on a leash and have them in the camping grounds, so long as they are tied up. Actually if I had not said already, having dogs at the camping grounds is very common (not just the owners but also the campers), plus often a number of pretty feral looking cats!

Riding through Parque Natural Alto Tajo

The orange arrow shows the place we were

I warmed up on the first hill about 6k, up but then we had a downhill that went for about 10k, under trees and in a gully. By the time we got to the bottom I was freezing and looking forward to an uphill! Pinch me but it’s true!

After going up for about one kilometre we came to a sunny bit and stopped and looked around. We were lucky enough to see 17 condors or eagles – there is a difference of opinion amongst the riders. It was fantastic, we stayed there for ages watching them soar and glide. Two came and had a closer look at us, but then soared away again.

If you look really carefully, the back dots are the eagles/condors

The ride until lunch was great, some ups but also good downs. My legs felt better than I had expected, even though they are stiff when I walk, they are ok on the bike.

After lunch we had a couple of fantastic down hills, and then we had some rolling hills.  With the wind assisting me I hit 51kph pedalling uphill. It certainly helps the more speed you can pick up, the less work it is to get up it. I have still not broken my downhill record, I have got to 56kph a number of times this trip, today included, but still have not broken through the 56kph barrier.

The road we were riding on that had the great rollers was called Paso De Ganada. Then we made a right turn and crikey, at the end of the road were two big hills with the wind now against us! My legs were tired but being only 10k from the camp gave me the needed energy to push up the hills. All the hills today were honest hills, up 1,321, but down 1,671 🙂

We are staying at a camp site called Camping Ecomillans, back to dirt again but only one night back in a tent and then three nights in Madrid. While we are in Madrid we are going to go to a restaurant called Botin which is the oldest restaurant in the world. Yes very touristy, but it has to be done, we have booked already. I also want to go and see the flamenco dancers.

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