Posts Tagged With: Walking

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.


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.


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.


Kaye’s Great Gatsby entrance at the  Masonic Hotel Napier


Emporium Cafe & Bar Napier


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.


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.



Mon 21 Napier

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Day 7: Sunday 20 Nov, Ohakune to Kurpipapango

132km to ride today, climbing 2,300 meters with 2,350 down.


Today’s instructions

I had tired legs already from yesterday so took a while to warm up. The first 24 km was not too bad, bit of up but not steep and not windy.

We are doing part of the ride today called the Gentle Annie. This ride can be found in the Classic NZ cycle trails and goes from Taihape to Napier. The person who called it the Gentle Annie has a very sick sense of humour. The book notes it as challenging and it’s not wrong. However before we got onto this challenging ride TDA threw in a 8km stretch of gravel with some fairly steep ups.

I was determined today to take more photos. However when I stopped to take a photo from the top off the hill my camera decided to go into weird mode and kept saving something so I played around with it and ended up getting a continuous shot of my face looking increasing annoyed. I tried turning it off and on but I couldn’t stop it so I put away in disgust. I rode cautiously down the gravel.


Start of the gravel road

Next we went out onto SH1 for 11km of lovely downwards gradient then turned at 58.7km into the Gentle Annie ride. The first 13 km was great, all downhill but it was running through my mind this is all going to have to be climbed back up!

Lunch at 71k was not so enjoyable with the knowledge that at 73km is a 18 km uphill climb. Some riders called it a day at lunch, while some rode the lunch truck to the lunch stop and then rode from there. The more foolhardy like myself decided to do the whole day.

There was amazing scenery so I checked what my camera was up to, it was still busily saving the grumpy photo of me, but battery was nearly flat so I turned off.

Well they call a bike a push bike because you can push it. I had a mixture of pushing and riding for the first 3 km of the climb, but then was able to stay on my bike to the peak. My garmin, which I know was fully charged, went flat at 80 km which was a real pain as I like to see how far I have come, and check the turns in the notes against the distance ridden.

At the top of the hill I had a sandwich and a drink. The lunch truck stopped on the way past and filled up my drink bottles. There are no shops today or tomorrow until we are nearly in Napier.

Less than two km downhill, then another 10k climb. The first bit was steep and my legs were not interested in riding so I pushed the bike the first 2km until the gradient eased and I climbed the rest.

Whilst walking I kept getting bomb dived by a magpie, who as soon as I turned my back to start walking would dive at me. At about one km there was another magpie in the ditch so maybe he was mad his friend had been killed, or maybe his friend had dive bombed a truck. In the end I saw a rock and biffed that at him and he left me alone (maybe his friend was killed by a rock). Later I found out he had followed some of the other riders for 5km.

I had a number of curious cows and sheep watch me make my way slowly up the hill. One cow was so interested she kept pace with me (not hard, she ambled) the length of the field.

At the top of the hill was a turn to keep following the Napier -Taihape Rd. The way I took was not flagged but I was pretty sure it was right, however after a very long downhill I was starting to worry that I may have gone the wrong way and may have to climb back up!

I was halfway up another hill when the lunch truck came back past checking on riders and seeing if anyone wanted to be picked up. Without the garmin I was thinking I had maybe 10km to go, so it was very daunting to hear I still had 23km with another big climb!!! I filled up my water bottles again, resisted looking at the comfortable seats in the truck, and set off again.

By this stage I was stuffed, my legs were becoming really heavy and each incline was like a steep climb. The next step climb I got to, once again I was off my bike and pushing. The last two riders behind me – Ray and Ursula (from Canada) passed me. Ursula also got off her bike but managed to walk up the hill without stopping.

By this stage I was walking, counting to 40 then stopping, then walking for another 40 count, then stopping, then walking for another 40 count, then stopping – all the way up 2km. I felt the hill was never going to end. I was thinking I wonder if my legs will simply stop working.

Then the inevitable happened – I was “swept”! The sweep is the TDA staff rider who rides at the back of the bunch to deal with any issues with riders. And if they catch up with you you’re ‘swept’ . I had hoped not to get swept on this ride.

Finally the top was reached and at last a downhill. It was fairly steep so I had to stop half way down as I have rim brakes and needed to stop to let them cool, as if they get too hot the heat of the rubbers squeezing the tyres can pop a tyre. The last thing I need at this stage is a flat, I think I would have buffed my bike onto the side of the road and walked to camp. Or as I saw once on the Round the Lake Taupo ride – someone rode into a tree.


View of a gorge not far out of camp

At the bottom of the downhill was a bridge with a sign “2km to camp”. However anytime you see a bridge at the bottom of a downhill it generally means a climb back up. Well, the 2k was uphill but not much of a gradient, but at the speed and effort I was going you would have thought it was almost vertical. With the sweep behind me however there was no way I was going to get off my bike. Finally the turn to camp: 900 meters of shingle, thankfully with soft downward gradient to camp.

10 hours on the bike and I arrived at camp totally stuffed but wrapped to have made it. Brett waved me over where he had a chair waiting for me, took my bike and shoved a beer into my hand. Plus he had put my tent up for me 😀

Later Michelle told me that Brett had told them ‘When she arrives there will be no point talking to her, she will be like a mongrel dog until she has a cold beer’.

There were no shower facilities as it is a bush camp so I had a wet wipe wash. It is a nicer bush camp than I had been expecting. I was thinking wind blown, remote, covered in tussocks and no shelter, but it was actually sheltered with lots of trees.

We had been told there were three long drops so I was imagining smelly holes in the ground, but this is a army training site and there were three toilets in small buildings like port-a-loos but with a ventilation thing on top which meant they did not smell and because they did not smell there were no flies either.


The long drop at bushcamp

Dinner was some lovely strips of tender lamb, couscous, green salad, and ratotue (tomato and vegetables mixed together, no idea how you spell it, it sounds like rat a tui). (Editor’s note: I think she means ratatouille 🙂 )

We had it with some Hawkes bay Merlot bought in Ohakune and travelled safety to camp tucked into Tony’s size 15 sneakers, which are just the right size for a bottle of wine.

Sadly then it was not off to bed as it was my night to get chosen for wash up duty. Each rider washes their own dishes, wash up duty is where you wash all the cooking stuff. Two lucky riders are chosen each night. It did not take long, and then off into my sleeping bag.


Somewhere on the ride today

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Day 14/164: Libano to Viani – 105 km

1,139 km down: 12,502 km to go

Of course climbing again today – 2,000 meters again! But with a big downhill as well. The consensus amongst the rides (who between them have done all the rides) is that this is harder than any of the other ride. Apparently this ride makes the South Africa ride look like a walk in the park.

Today's route and profile (Photo and caption credit: Sue's Facebook page)

Today’s route and profile (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

I patched the tyre before I left camp, as I don’t have any of the right inner tubes. I asked a few riders if they had a spare but there had been a number of flat tyres and everyone I spoke to either only had one themselves or their tube would not fit. So I set off thinking “hopefully it will hold for the day”.

The first 40 kilometres were great: rolling hills, and a massive downhill of about 20 kilometres. You could not go too fast though as every few kilometres there would be a bump or gravel, or it would suddenly get rocky and stoney.

After the downhill there was actually flat land for a few kilometres – the first flat land for days! I was enjoying riding along until I got my first flat tyre for the day.  Again the back tyre. I was changing this when two of the other riders, John and Asha, stopped to help. Once again I carefully checked the tyre – nothing! I checked the rim etc, no reason that could be seen. I thought perhaps the patch had lifted so I took it off and re patched.

Back on my way for another 2 kilometres, before another flat tyre, this time I changed it myself! Off again, another 5 kilometres, flat tyre again. I had to find a safe place to stop – 1) off the road and 2) out of the beating sun – 38 degrees!  So I walked to a safe spot, propped my bike up, it unbalanced and I cut my hand catching it. I could feel tears pricking at my eyes.

Just then Tom and Rhonda rode past and said the sweep was just behind them. In about 2 minutes Adrian pulled up and once again checked the tyre and rim, and found nothing. We re-patched it, and Adrian has a really good pump so good pressure in. While we were doing this a local with a ute stopped and offered a ride into the next town.

Off again, stopped about 3 kilometres up the road for some more water and caught up with Tim and Rhonda. The man at the shop noticed I was hot and gave me a fan to use, then gave me lessons in how to use it properly!

Off again, christ it was hot. Due to the flat tyres I was starting a 60 kilometre climb in the heat of the day. Got up another two kilometres and then another bloody flat – the rear tyre again!!!!

This time Adrian stretched one of my smaller inner tubes into the tyre. Then I began a mixture of walking and riding, and catching my breath, and taking breaks in the shade. I came around one corner and came across Tim and Rhonda who had decided enough was enough. They were either going to wait for the lunch truck to come back and get them, or try and get a lift.

Tim and Rhonda are leaving in Bogeta which is about two weeks earlier than they were planning to, because it is too hard. They are the oldest riders here, and although they have done other rides, this ride is harder than expected. It’s a shame as they are a lovely couple. One of the other riders said Tim was instrumental in the design of the first ever TDA ride.

I had the sweep behind me which always makes me feel bad about stopping and being so slow. In the end we decided that he would ride to the lunch truck and then get it to come back when all the other riders had had lunch. I kept going up and up, walking, stopping, panting, riding, sitting, almost out of water.

I decided if I ran out of water I was going to just sit in a cool shady place and wait. Down to the last bit of water and warming up to this plan and around the corner I came across a shop. I drank two bottles of water straight off and bought two more to fill up my water bottles.

I was just about to head off when a ute pulls up with Tim and Rhonda who were getting a lift to lunch – sadly no room for one more! So, up and off again, more of the same: riding, panting, walking, sitting etc.

I got to about another 5 kilometres from where I saw Rhonda and Tim and came across Ray sitting on a chair at a local’s house. I went over to talk to him and he said the hill went up another 15 kilometres and he was waiting for the lunch truck to come back. As it is hard for the truck to stop I decided to wait with him. I asked the man if I could sit down by pointing to the chair and he said I could. He was not over friendly – he was probably wondering what was next. About 15 minutes later the lunch truck arrives!

On my last trip I did not go in the lunch truck to or from lunch at all, and today I have not even made lunch. I am pushing myself as far as I can but the body is not obeying! I am reassured that everyone is finding it tough, but I am disappointed not to be completing days. A mixture of day after day of climbing, the heat, the altitude, being overweight, a heavier bike, and not enough training. Two things for sure: I will be much fitter at the end of this, and I suspect I will be much lighter.

Off to camp in the lunch truck again with Ray, Rhonda, and Tim. We got to camp and I set up my tent etc etc. Tyre was still up. Had a cold shower again.

Where we were camped it turned out it was in front of a bar, and it was Friday night. The locals partied until about 2:30 am, with loud music and enthusiasm. It reminded me of the camp sites in Italy and France. Like there, you just have to remind yourself that no doubt in your younger days you also kept people awake, partying into the small hours, and it’s their home and we are the weird foreigners occupying their space.

I slept intermittently. Once the music stopped, the roosters across town had a crowing contest, and then the dogs joined in. On a positive note, it did not rain and my tyre was still up when I went to bed.

Roadside shrine at about 600m up the hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue's Facebook page)

Roadside shrine at about 600 metres up the hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

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