Posts Tagged With: Views

Monday 3 July: Amsterdam to London

Today we had to get packed and get to the airport to fly to London. I was quite excited, never having been to London before. We flew KML airlines to Heathrow and managed to arrive with bags, bike boxes, etc without any issues.

We flew into terminal four and then caught the train to terminal three (flying out from there), where the bike boxes are being left until we fly home. So much easier than having to cart big boxes around, and gives a range of transport options that would otherwise not be available. Thank you Shellbe for sorting this out.

We then caught the tube with a couple changes into central London, with Shellbe as our metro guide. We are staying at the Tower Hotel and the room has an amazing view of the Tower Bridge.

Once we were checked in we went out and had a meal at a nearby pub, at St Catherine’s Dock.

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St Katherine’s Dock

I had the house specialty, which was fish and chips with a container of mushy peas, gravy and tartare sauce. I was not convinced about mushy peas, and dipping chips in gravy sounds weird but was quite nice.

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Lunch at St Katherine’s Dock

After dinner, it was time to walk Shellbe to the Tower Bridge tube, but will see her again tomorrow.

The view of the Tower Bridge is stunning, and I especially enjoyed how different it looked at the different times of the day.

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Sunset over Tower Bridge

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Sunset Tower Bridge

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Tower Bridge after dark from Tower Hotel

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Day 20: Schwabisch-Hall to Heidelberg

The original schedule for day 111 km, but now thanks to Gergo’s new cycle path book it is 139 km. It actually ended up being 150km but will get onto that later.

We climbed 864 meters up, it felt way more, and went down 995 meters. To make it worse, Gergo had said after 14 km it’s all downhill and it wasn’t, and we were riding in a heat wave.

Yvonne is still unwell and is going to take the train to Heidelberg, Maureen is going to go with her. It was tempting to join them, and later in the day I regretted that I hadn’t.

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Departing Hotel Goldener Adler

The first 3 km out of town was very steep, then we followed a bike path through field and forest trails for another 11 km, at times a gentle gradient and others steep, but also some downhill.

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Hard climb at the start of the day to Waldenburg

We then had a steep path down to a main road, which we were on for about 5 k then it was back on the bike paths.  At times we would come out onto the road, ride a few metres, go up another bike path and climb up a couple of kilometres, then come back to the same road, not much further than where we had left it!

The paths go all over the place and a lot of time was wasted working out which way to go. The other issue is often they have quite sharp built up edges, and you have to be careful which way you hit them when going from one path to another. I unbalanced a couple of times, but managed to un-click my shoes and put my foot down so I didn’t topple over.

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Feeling puffed!

Once again on the paths we went through a mixture of fields, forests, alongside roads, through forests on all types of surfaces, and through towns. At one stage we were winding through one village and we came along a windy narrow path and went straight through an archway in an old castle.

The villages are so picturesque it’s like being in a Grimm Brother’s fairy tale, and so many castles.

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Hirschhorn

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Neuenstein

At about 70 km, we had to go through a rocky forest track, the surface was unpleasant and I kept jarring my arm. We came out to a clearing where a man dressed in red stopped us and said we couldn’t go past, as they were clearing a dangerous tree. He told us to go back to the town about 6 km away and detour around! We asked how long before we could get past him, and he said an hour and a half!

We sat down to think about it. So frustrating as we were less than 5 minutes behind Cathy and Janice, who had got through ok. The distance we still had to ride, the heat, and the thought of either one and a half hour wait or going back down the horrid rocky road was too much, I cried. Thirty minutes later we decided we were going to do the detour, as there was no guarantee the wait would only be another hour. Just then another couple of other riders, not part of our group, showed up and they decided to wait.

Back down that horrid road, through town, and along the other side of the river. 12 km after we had left we passed the spot we had been stopped on the other side of the river, and we could see the two other riders still sitting there.

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Over the Neckar River at Neckargetach, before the road block!

We stayed on the main road, with a nice 1.5 metre wide shoulder, for about 10 km then managed to recross the river and pick up the planned route again. Looking back I don’t know why we didn’t stay on the main road. Most of the next 25 km was uneven surfaces, and a few spaces were really unpleasant, as I kept jarring my arm. Lots of other bike tourers were coming the other way. We went past a seat on the trail made out of a huge tree.

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At 14 km before Heidelberg, we crossed onto the main road and had 8 km of downhill, then through a village and then on a bike path along the river.

There were some stunning views coming into the city: huge castles, churches, bridges and old buildings. In the city there are bike paths through town, sometimes half of the footpath, and sometimes running along the side of the road. The walkers keep off the bike paths, and traffic gives way! Such a novelty.

We finally got to the hotel at 630pm, tired, hot, and grumpy. We are staying at an IBIS, which would win the prize for the smallest room ever. The shower was so small you could barely fit in it, and the door banged against the toilet. It was a mixture between a small cabin on a ship and a prison cell.

It was also on the outskirts of town, with homeless people living under the bridge next to it. Our view out the window was rail yards.

By the time we had had a shower we just wanted to eat and sleep. But, the hotel had no restaurant! By this time we were full of joys of the day.

Only option was to go out. In the lobby we caught up with Janice and Gregg, who told us that Graham had had a pretty nasty fall at 39 km, had knocked himself out and was in hospital. It was nothing life threatening, but they were going to keep him overnight for observation.

Janice and Gregg were going to an Italian restaurant back in town, but we decided to look for something closer. We walked the other way past a group of drunks on the sidewalk, and there really wasn’t anything. The IBIS is located right by the main train station, so we went in there, but it was all food hall type of food.

There was one restaurant called the Metropolitan near the hotel, which we had discounted when we first saw it, but by now it was 730pm so we decided to go in. The barman bought us a beer, but when we asked about ordering food he said he would send his colleague.

After 15 min Brett went to the bar and was told “Yes the colleague is coming”. Another 15 minutes later I went up to the bar, and he said he would get his colleague to come!

I was getting close to tears for the second time in a day, when the colleague finally came. I was going to order pizza, as I couldn’t face more tough meat, crumbed and covered in sauced. But it turned out the pizza oven was broken! Not wanting to give the colleague the chance to get away and possibly not come back again for another 30 plus minutes, I chose a burger and chips. The barman came over and apologised that his colleague had taken so long to arrive.

Janice and Gregg arrived at the restaurant, the one they were going to go to was full and so were the others they had looked at, so they came back looking for something closer to the hotel. Thankfully the barman, seeing they were with us, decided he could take their order without the assistance of the colleague, and their meal arrived only a couple of minutes after ours. The burger was pretty basic but at least it was food. By this time it was 930pm – time to sleep.
Nekar

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Day 6: Sibenik to Pag Island

126 km – 1,200 meters climbing and descent

Today the first half was pretty easy riding, ups and downs along the coast, and reasonably cool. My legs were still feeling the benefit of the rest day in Split.

I drink about a bottle of water an hour which seems more than anyone else, which means having to stop and buy water a couple of times a day. So I decided if I am paying for water I may as well have sparkling. Interesting fact: the gas in the sparkling water and the motion of riding doesn’t work so well. No matter how tight your bottles are screwed shut, the gas builds up and pushes through the spout, and sprays your legs at regular intervals with trickles of water.

There are many beautiful coves with beautiful clear water, sandy beaches, boats at the shore, certainly this is a country to put on the list to come back to. The country is very clean, especially the hotels and the shops.

Lunch was at 65 km, then next 5 km was along the coast. We crossed a big bridge onto PAG Island. After this we spent about 20 km in the country side, with lots of long hot steady climbs. The country side is very much like Spain, lots of rock walls and olive trees, and hot.

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PAG Island Bridge

Then there was a three km down hill, which was followed by 26 km of what seemed like endless long clinbs and descents in the beating sun.

The landscape was very rocky, dry and barren. I am finding the bumps in the road hard on my arm, and my right foot felt like someone had shoved a knife into it. When the lunch truck came past 15 km before the end the temptation was great, but I resisted.

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Dry rocky lunar landscape

Finally we came to the township of Pag, there was a choice of left or right. The left was a steep long climb and the right was a short climb. Yay the flags showed go to the right!

Finally got to the hotel, a lovely place set right by the beach, called Hotel Frane.

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Hotel Frane

As soon as I got my gear up to the room, I was off to the beach for a swim. Amazing how different I felt after a swim and a shower. The room has a nice balcony which was great to dry the togs and air the riding shoes out.

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Room balcony at Hotel Frane

I am still having some problems with the bites from a previous swim in the ocean, and have to keep two of them covered, but whilst yucky they don’t look infected.

I look a bit like a crazy woman, I still have not been able to find any conditioner so my hair is all over the place, and despite putting sunscreen on frequently, my face is red.

Dinner was Chicken noodle soup and bread followed by an amazing platter with seabass, potatoes and veges, accompanied by fried squid rings, and octopus and rice. This was washed down with cold water as today was one of the two alcohol free days for the week. Dessert was a sticky cake thing, it looked nice but I was too full to eat.

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After a long hot 127km day – dinner for a starving cyclist

Tomorrow we have to catch 3 ferries.

 

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Day 5: Split to Sibenik

88km, 800 meters climbing and 800 meters descent, with no hill more than 80 meters in total

Not sure how it will go with riding, my arm feels better today than yesterday but is still very sore. I took 2 Panafon and an anti inflammatory, and headed down for breakfast.

Breakfasts generally consist of some sweet cereal, even if it’s rolled oats it’s full of little chocolate bits, so I stay away from it. Generally scrambled eggs or omelette , yoghurt, and a range of cake, meat, fruit, cheese, and bread and rolls, some days a toaster and juice. I generally have a yoghurt and toast if there is a toaster, or bread and cheese if there isn’t. Black tea is hard to locate, but thankfully I have a box so I bring a couple of bags with me each morning.

After breakfast we had to bring the bikes down the stairs from the 3rd floor which was a bit of a challenge with my arm, I had to carry the bike on the other side and stop after each flight.

At 8am we left in a convoy, only a 7km one today. Getting on and off my bike is difficult but possible, and I can use my brakes. My arm is uncomfortable – 4/10 on the pain scale but compared to sitting in a truck most of the day it is doable.

Riding along, having trouble getting on and off the bike and braking, I was thinking about my friend Wendy who had a very nasty accident a couple of years ago, which has left her with very limited use of her right hand – I had a small insight into her world.

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A town called Marina

Thankfully the riding today is easy, fresh legs, and no big hills. Before I know it we are at lunch. Beautiful spot for lunch, jaw dropping view, amazing harbours, clear blue water, sandy beaches. Every turn is more beautiful.

 

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Lunch stop

I found it a bit difficult going through the towns with the traffic lights, having to get on and off my bike, and the last few km had a couple of climbs but then a descent to the hotel along another promenade. We stayed at the Hotel Jadran, not as flash as the one in Split but pretty nice. The hotel is very dated, another place that would have been grand in its day. The carpet is worn but the room is small, clean, and comfortable.

There is quite a lot of noise outside which turns out be a basketball tournament which goes on until about midnight.

Before dinner we walked up and down the promenade looking at the boats and ships. They are all in beautiful order. They range from small to charter boats to ships.

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Sibenik Waterfront

Tonight I had dinner with Brett and John and Walker, both who rode with us on the Trans-Europa. John rode from St Petersburg to Barcelona, and Walker and his wife Carol joined us in Venice and rode to Lisbon.

Dinner was a vegetable soup, over cooked fish / over cooked chicken / mushed vegetables and cold chips, and a really nice lemon and strawberry ice cream.
Plus we shared a couple of bottles of chilled red wine, can’t remember the type.

 

I went to sleep with the loud music blasting.

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Day 3: Monday 5 June – Tucepi to Split

Riding 76 km: 1,033 up and 1,029 down

So the bites I was not so concerned about last night are large welts today, and I still have no idea what bit me.

Breakfast was back in the enormous dining room again. Yay I found a toaster. Unfortunately what I thought was a small container of jam was pate or possibly spam! Luckily I managed to find jam. It’s a beautiful spot but couldn’t spend a week here eating buffet food made for the thousands.

Once again it was as hot as it is at midday in summer in Wellington before we left the hotel.

As we had come down a few kms to the hotel yesterday, I was expecting to climb out. We had a busy road and we were stuck in the traffic for the first 5 or so km. The drivers were pretty good, with only a couple of cars honking at us as we sat in front of them at the lights. No sure what the honking was meant to achieve.

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Looking down from highway over Makarska

After this there were ups and downs for the first 20 km. At 21 km whilst climbing I was looking with joy and anticipation at the road not far ahead, stretching into the distance, with a lovely long descent 😀 but just as I got to the flat before the start of the downhill there was an orange flag directing us to take a sharp right turn and start climbing up. Thankfully this climb was only just over a km, and then we turned left and headed down hill again.

We were out in the countryside with the occasional house, it was very peaceful after the busy traffic. We then had quite a steep down hill which was great but on the way down I was thinking “of course what follows a steep downhill is an equally steep uphill”. The uphill was not steep but was a steady 7 km climb. I was getting worried about how slow I was going, until we got to the town of Radici where the rest of the riders were all stopped for a coffee, so I can’t have been that far behind them, as they were all still drinking.

I had a lovely ice cold water to drink, and to fill up my water bottle with. So far today I have drunk 4 bottles of water and it’s only mid morning.

I noticed whilst sitting there that the bite on my left leg was really itchy, so I had a look – it was now much bigger and swollen, and had a raised head in the middle. I decided it was time to take an antihistamine – luckily I carry some on the bike in case I get bitten by a bee.

Off again, two more km up, then mostly down through Canyon Cetine, until we came to a gorgeous holiday town called Omis. As we were riding into Omis I was looking at my right where there was a huge switchback going up and up and up. I was thinking please don’t let that be where we are going.

We rode into the town, having a look around, and we were going straight: so far so good. Then we turned right, crossed across the river, and my heart sunk: yep we were heading to the 6 km quite steep switchback.

We got to climb this in 36 degrees, plus the added heat of the sun off the rocks. It was hideous, and after what seemed forever I passed the sign by the side of the road: only 3 km climbed! 3 km more to go!

On and on I went. By 5 km I was swept (where the sweep catches up with you, meaning you are last) and I was walking (they call it a “push bike” because you can push it 😀).

At about 5.5 k there was a nice cool corner where I and a few of the other riders had a rest. At 52 km I was finally at the top. This was followed by 3 km of pretty flat gradient to lunch. There were a number of riders still at lunch, a couple looking as stuffed as I felt.

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From the bridge at sea level in Omis, the big hot climb back up, I’ve made it

After lunch I was not thrilled to be getting back on my bike again. Joyfully the next 12 km were all downhill 👍👍 all the way till 67 km. Then only 6 km to go, how hard could that be?

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Followed down Cetina River to pass through the gorge at Omis.

We went uphill for about 2 km, with crazy busy motorway speed traffic, with no shoulder. I was very scared, lots of cars and trucks helpfully tooting at us. As well as having no shoulder, there was gutter with a downward gradient that I was worried about getting my wheels into, in case I came off my bike.

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I wanted the low road, but no we had to go up and over

This was followed by a downhill for another km, speeding traffic, no shoulder, and having to cross to the centre lane to turn to the town we were staying in. Thankfully there was a traffic light, otherwise we would probably still be there!

 

Then 6 km, not as busy to the hotel. We stayed at the Bellevue Hotel, which would have been a grand hotel in its day, but is now very dated. Very pretty seaside city, lovely promenade. The population in Split 178,000.

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Hotel Bellevue on the waterfront

Once we arrived, first we had to take bike up 3 sets of stairs to the room they are being stored in. Then bags up to the room. I lay down on the bed and had a nap. Then up, showered, and off to find a laundry. Luckily there was one just up the road. Then off to have a look around, and get a cold beer.

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Promenade on the Split Waterfront

We sat in one of the seaside bars and had water and a not-cold enough Croatian beer called Amber. It was really hot, so we left to find somewhere cooler to sit. We went up an alley way and into in the old town (UNESCO heritage site) and were in an old courtyard which was lovely and cool, and had a nice breeze following through it.

We decided to eat at a restaurant called Tavola. We had a sea food platter for two with a bottle of pleasant white Cossetto Malvazija recommended by the waiter. The sea food platter had tuna, sea bass, prawn and mussels. The mussels were tasty but tiny.

After dinner we decided to go for a walk along the waterfront. We got an ice cream and stopped to watch some children playing. It was very pleasant down by the water, the heat had gone out of the day. Then we continued walking. Unfortunately I walked onto some pavers that were slimy with fishy water, and as I was wearing jandals I had no traction and went for a skate. I went backwards,  with a crash landing on my hand, then hitting my head. I was lucky in that my head just missed a bollard!

The result was one fishy smelling dress and a very sore arm. Hopefully it will settle over night and hopefully is just a sprain and will not be bad enough to send me home.

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View from my room at Hotel Bellevue

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Day 25: Friday 9 Dec – 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 😐. 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 béarnaise 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 22: Tuesday 6 Dec – rest day in Fox Glacier

There are 25 riders and 5 staff members on this trip – and only one washing machine at camp, and no laundromat in town. The machine was fully in use last night and the sign said don’t use after 8 pm. Michele and I were up at 7am to get ahead of the rush to the washing machine and dryer. Getting the laundry done is a main focus of rest days.

I was surprised that with the amount of camper vans etc that no one had popped a small laundromat into the town, especially as the lady at the town general store said it had been great having two fine days as they had had 27 wet days in row before that.

The weather forecast for the next three days is rain with the worst for later today and tomorrow. I was hoping to be able to book accommodation tomorrow night so planned to be straight onto it when the board with the information came out.

After putting the washing on, I sat around drinking copious cups of tea waiting for the washing to wash and dry. Yoav and Asia came in to have tea and coffee and toast as well.

At about 9am we (Brett, Tony, Michele, Yoav, Asia, Justina and I) rode to Lake Matheson, 6 km down the road to find the 4.4 km walk around it. When it is a really calm day the lake reflects the mountain and it can be spectacular on a day with a calm and bright blue sky. Today most of the mountains were covered by cloud but it was still a good walk through the bush.

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Lake Matheson

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Lake Matheson

There were lots of notices about the different trees and what the Maori had used them for. I always think about my Dad when I am walking through the bush, and remember the walks he would take us on as children.

We had lunch at the cafe, I had some really nice pork and fennel sausages, then had a look around the gift shop.

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Lake Matheson

Then it was back to the motel and the next three days riding was up on the board, along with the details of where we were staying tomorrow and the next night – another Top Ten Holiday Camp. Unfortunately when I rang up I found they were fully booked, drat! So I asked if I could go on the waiting list in case anyone cancels, which the lady laughed at but said sure and took my details just in case. Oh well I thought, one day in the rain and putting up a tent in rain is ok. Brett got on the phone and booked accommodation for the following night in Hawea so at least it won’t be two wet nights.

I went up to the shop to get a card as it is time to start writing thank you cards for the staff and sorting the gratuities (it’s not enforceable, but the expectation is that you give a gratuity to the staff. Most riders do, but there are some who say they have already paid for the trip, sadly often these are the people who could easily afford to). I got four really nice cards in Napier but had forgotten another TDA staff member was joining in Wellington, so needed another card.

Just after I got back from the shop my phone rang and it was the Haast Top Ten, unbelievable they had had a cancellation! Someone had booked for tomorrow but got their days mixed up and turned up today. Yay! Tomorrow when I am riding along getting soaking wet I won’t have to worry about putting up a tent at the end of it.

About 5 minutes after I got back from the shop it started to rain, the mountains disappeared. It wasn’t windy but the rain was steady and it got noticeably cooler.

Then it was time to relax, update the blog, and read a book until dinner time. I managed to update the blog but didn’t get around to reading. I went back to The Last Kitchen for dinner. I had seafood chowder and the ribeye steak with crumbed mushrooms, yum! Plus a shared bottle of La La Land Malbec again.

Then it was time for an early night, only 3 riding days to go.

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Yoav, Justina and Asia at Lake Matheson

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Day 21: Sunday 4 Dec – Greymouth to Hari Hari

112km today – 800 meters climbing, 750 down.

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The weather remained fine and today should be a relatively easy day, not much climbing , not a long distance, and not much rain.

We had the choice of the highway, or following a bike trail which would keep us off the main road but would add about 35 km and the surface was gravel and possibly not hard packed. Given it was a Sunday I decided the traffic would be lighter so chose the road.
There was probably only three trucks the whole day and they were milk tankers which would work 24/7, but also quite a few buses.

At 12 km we came to the last remaining shared bridge in NZ, which is shared by cars and trains, and until recently by cyclists. Thankfully when they created the bike trail they clipped a bike lane to the bridge.

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Shared bridge (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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The bike path on the side of the bridge (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

At 36 km we stopped in Hokitika for coffee, and we went down to the beach. There is a concrete armchair down there that looks just like a real arm chair. Outside the coffee shop was a big arm chair made of driftwood, pretty impressive, wouldn’t mind two of them on my deck at home.

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Concrete armchair at Hokitika

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Driftwood armchair

The ride was mainly rolling hills with some climbs but nothing significant. Stopped in a town called Ross for a drink and took a couple of pictures of a house and a general store with car number plates all over them.

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Interesting shop front in Ross

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Interesting house in Ross

The person in front of me at the shop was a local and had their shopping entered onto a card. To start off with I thought the guy behind the counter must be writing down all the purchases, but then realised the local was putting his stuff “on tick” (buy now, pay later – usually pay day). This took me back to my childhood where we would be sent to the corner store to get stuff “on tick”. Every now and again the shop keeper would say ‘Tell your mum she needs to come and see me”. Looking back that must have been when the tab was getting too high and he wanted to be paid, but he always gave us what we had come in for.

Lunch wasn’t until 82 km so I was getting pretty hungry by the time we got there. I had a sandwich and then an apple. I decided rather than throw my core in the rubbish bin, that as it was organic, I would throw it into the bush. Unfortunately I didn’t think about my terrible aim and actually threw it straight at Justina’s head! Oops ! It gave her a hell of a fright. I apologized profusely and she was ok, and thankfully it had not hit her eye or anything. Imagine the ACC report! Note to self: put all food scraps in the bin, always!

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Justina from Poland, works Switzerland. It’s her first TDA tour.

The afternoon saw some amazing rivers, and it got pretty hot. We were pretty happy to arrive in Hari Hari even more happy to find the Hari Hari Hotel open and we could sit inside and have a cold beer. I also bought Justina a drink as continued demonstration of remorse.

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A well deserved cold beer at Hari Hari pub, with (from left) Tony, Michele, Don, Walli and Brett

At the camp we also managed to get a room with a shower so we didn’t have to compete for the one female shower with the other riders.

Hari Hari’s claim to fame is that it was where the first pilot to fly solo Trans-Tasman landed. Upside down in a swamp! Guy Menzies told his parents he was flying to Perth and left them an envelope to open after he had gone, telling them he was flying to New Zealand. He had to land at Hari Hari as was out of fuel but did not realise it was a swamp, he thought it was flat ground. He walked away with only a few scratches.

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Hari Hari plane plaque

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Hari Hari’s claim to fame

Every riding day, before dinner, we have a riders meeting. At the start of tonight’s meeting, Emily (tour leader) said with a totally straight face “First of all, we have to deal with the serious matter of an assault on another rider. Kaye, you have been yellow carded” and handed me a yellow card. Emily said 3 more yellow cards and I would be off the trip.

The majority of the riders had already heard about the incident, and thought it was very funny. For the rest of the evening I had people sitting in front of me and then saying “Oh that’s right, not safe here” and moving etc – all in good fun. Justina has ridden past me a couple of times since then with her arm over her face.

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Getting my yellow card

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Trying to explain / defend my actions

Dinner that night was sausages with onion and gravy , smashed potato, broccolini and cheese sauce and sauerkraut. Plus fruit cake with custard and cream. Washed down with a shared bottle of Craggy Farm Merlot.

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Getting close to Hari Hari

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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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