Posts Tagged With: Wine

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.

IMG_2408

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.

IMG_2421

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?

IMG_2418

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.

IMG_2411

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.

IMG_2427_edited.jpg

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.

IMG_2429

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.

IMG_2423

View from my room at Hotel Bellevue

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Day 27: Sunday 11 Dec – Rest day two in Queenstown (last day of holiday)

I slept in this morning then headed down town for breakfast. Then a walk around the park and the wharf area. Then it was back to get the bikes boxed, packing done, then finished my book.

We had a fantastic dinner at the Botswana Butchery Restaurant. I had a delicious mexican cocktail –  tequila, raspberry liquor, line and ginger. Then for an entree we shared Tasmanian scallops and a whitebait fritter.

For my main I had ribeye on the bone with a mushroom sauce, duck fat potatoes, seasonal veges and cauliflower cheese. Totally delicious, with an also delicious bottle of Hunter Valley Tyrell’s Lunatiq  Heathcote Shiraz 2009.

img_1494

Cocktail and wine, best.

We finished with a Cheese Board: Tui Cheddar and blue brie, accompanied by a Penfolds Grandfather Port, again totally delicious.

The restaurant had fantastic service, a nice view of the lake, and a nice atmosphere and great acoustically due to all the soft furnishing. As well as the main dining room and the outside dining area with a big roaring fire, there are also a number of private dining rooms upstairs ranging from 2 people to 20 people in size.

After dinner it was back up the hill again to get ready for the taxi pick at 630 am tomorrow.

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

Day 26: Rest Day One in Queenstown

I was awake at about 7am and read for a couple of hours, then packed up to move along the road to the Hurley Lodge. This was about 0.3 of a km away. We went along and checked at 930 am if we could leave our bags and bike boxes there until we could check in. The room we were allocated was already vacant so we were able to leave our stuff in there straight away. It took two trips: one for the bike boxes and the next to carry the bags.

We had arranged to meet with Michele and Tony at the Pig and Whistle for breakfast at 1030am. When we got there we found it did not open till 11am so we went to a cafe next door. It was nice food. Michele and Tony have a trip to the Milford Sounds today – a plane ride and and a cruise today – depending on the weather. We had a look around Queenstown, the wharf, and the markets, and found some tape and cable ties to get our bikes well secured in their boxes.

img_1467

Checking out the brunch menu at the Pig and Whistle

The plan was then to go back to the hotel to box the bikes properly, but instead we both read until it was time to meet Sue for a drink to celebrate her EFI, at 2 pm.

At 2pm we met Sue and went back into the town. We looked along the water front and stopped at an Irish Pub called Pog Mahones. We sat outside drinking a nice bottle of Daniel Le Brun with a antipasto platter, followed by a cold beer and bread and dips. We were a bit startled when the bread and dip came out: 2 freshly cooked loaves of bread (the size of the Sunday fresh loaves we used to get) with large containers of pesto, oil and balsamic, and a green dip – possibly cream cheese.

img_1475

Celebrating Sue’s EFI

img_1473

Congrats Sue! A well deserved bubbles after cycling EFI (every f*cking inch)

We stayed for quite a while, chatting and watching people walking along the wharf, and listening to the young busker playing the saxophone.

Then it was back to the hotel to read a bit more until it was time to meet for dinner. We met Tony, Michele, Phil, Anne and Graham at the Pig and Whistle for dinner. I had a lamb shank pie which was really nice. Everyone liked their meals but the service was not friendly. Snappy young ladies who banged the plates down on the table, with no smiles or friendly banter. Nothing like the Pig and Whistle in Rotorua where the staff were extremely friendly. After dinner it was time to say goodbye to Phil, Anne, and Graham.

Michele, Tony, Brett and I went back to Pog Mahones and listened to the Irish Band for a while. Due to the weather conditions Michele and Tony were not able to go on the trip to the Milford Sounds and an alternative was organised for 6am tomorrow morning.

After that it was back up the hill again to the hotel. Tomorrow is the last day of the holiday!

img_1470

I made a friend in Queenstown

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

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.

img_1045-1

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.

img_1034-1

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.

15338758_10153939882975780_7430085629839659986_n

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

img_1039

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.

img_1431

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

img_1434

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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 bĂ©arnaise sauce ) 

img_1453

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

wp_20161206_10_41_30_pro

Lake Matheson

wp_20161206_10_05_43_pro

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.

wp_20161206_10_25_32_pro

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.

wp_20161206_10_42_15_pro

Yoav, Justina and Asia at Lake Matheson

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

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

86km – 1,250 metres climing and 1,200 down.

The weather remained fine and warm, and not too windy. Today there were 4 hills, one at at about 8 km and the other 3 in a cluster between Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier, starting at 68 k and finishing at about 82k.

The first hill was quite kind, it went on for a while but was only about a 6% gradient, which meant the serious climbing would be in the final 3 hills. Not a lot of traffic early in the day, and as the day went on it was mainly buses and camper vans and wagons.

img_1380

img_1381

I stopped at 30 k in Whataroa for coffee. I was amused to see a sign for the newest tourist attraction: fault line tours. I wonder how many tourists sign up for that.

img_1390

Wonder how popular this is?

img_1388-1

At the coffee stop in Whataroa

wp_20161205_09_22_31_pro

Loved this sign at coffee stop at Whataroa

Lunch was quite early at 50 k . There were a couple of jokes as expected about not sitting in front of me etc.

Last night we had a conversation about silly things you do as children with contributions such as (these were not me) – holding onto an electric fence for the longest, getting electric shocks by touching your tongue against a wet telegraph pole etc. This conversation resumed at lunch. One of the rider’s Kevin has three children, the middle one is a bit of a trouble maker and one morning in Canada in sub zero conditions he convinced his older and younger sibling to lick a frozen pole. His wife came out of their driveway on the  way to work to find two of her children with their tongues stuck to the pole. She had to go back to the house to get water to get them unstuck.

Poor Justina – not only did I throw an apple at her head yesterday, but when she got to camp and touched the fence it was electrified and she got a shock, and then this morning when she came out of her tent a fly flew into her mouth! She says bad things come in three’s so hopefully this is it.

After lunch it was 10km to Franz Joseph, where I stopped for a cup of tea before the big climb. I have been here before so did not feel the need to add to the day’s riding by cycling and then walking up to the glacier. I applied sunscreen, bulked up on water ,and set off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

The climb was mostly ok but steep in a few places. I got off three times to catch my breath and have a drink of water. It was a good feeling to get to the top of the final hill and 5km downhill to Fox Glacier.

img_1396

On the climb between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier

img_1397

Made it to Fox Glacier!

We stayed at the Rain Forest Motel. For the first time on this trip we were sharing rest day accommodation. Thankfully it was Tony and Michele in with us.

Then it was time to unpack, have a shower, and relax for awhile, then up to town (approx 500 meters) for a look around, and food and drink. We decided on a place called The Last Kitchen with the plan that we would have a drink and a snack there, and then move. However the food was so delicious, and the staff so nice, we ended up staying there for the evening.

We started with green mussels in ginger, cream and coriander, a fried Camembert, and kumera wedges with cold beer. Guy, one of the other riders, joined us just after we had eaten our entrees. I was trying to decide between the blue cod battered fish or the lamb burger, as was Guy. We decided one of us would buy one and one would buy the other and halve it. Problem solved. The others all had the steak. The wine was a bottle of Aussie Malbec chosen because it was called La La Land. It was ok.

The conversation was very convivial until somehow we got onto occupations, and Guy said he was retired but had worked for Monsanto (genetic engineering of crops), and then there was quite a heated discussion on the pros and cons of this. Possibly not all of us will be dinner companions by choice of Guy’s in the future. Guy did not stay around for long after he had eaten, but long enough to express surprise that we were getting a second bottle of wine (between four people).

When you are doing long rides you often see self supported riders, and they are also welcome to stop at the lunch truck for food and for dinner in camp. Last night a touring heavy laden couple arrived at Hari Hari, unfortunately after we had had dinner. Whilst sitting on the balcony at The Last Kitchen we saw them ride into town about 7pm, we waved out and called out good effort. We had found the hills challenging and we didn’t have heavily laden bikes to contend with.

They rode up the street and about that time the bugs started biting so as the motel was so close I went back for the bug spray. As I was coming out again the two riders rode around the corner and they recognized me from when we had called out to them before.  They had had trouble finding somewhere to stay and it had been suggested they try here as there were lots of cyclists. However it’s not a campsite so there are no amenities, and the motel owner said they could only stay here if we agreed and let them use our facilities. They seemed a nice enough couple so I handed them our key to have a shower and said when you are ready come back to the pub and we would shout them a drink.

Justina came back up to the pub with me, by this time the group had moved to a table with gas fire in the middle, so it was nice and warm – got to love those NZ summers. We had a good chat with the two tour cyclists. Yoav is from the Netherlands and Asia is from Poland, but they met and both work in America. Asia is a scientist working as NASA and Yoav is currently not working but his last job was as the Global Campaign Director for Earth Day. They carry two of everything – two tents, two cooking stoves etc. Asia says that way they are staying together because they want to, not out of necessity.

Then it was time to return to the motel, I went to bed happy with the thought that tomorrow was a rest day.

img_1068

Fox Glacier

img_1066-1

Fox Glacier

img_1086-1

Fox Glacier

img_1096-1

Fox Glacier

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

Day 21: Sunday 4 Dec – Greymouth to Hari Hari

112km today – 800 meters climbing, 750 down.

img_1363-1

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shared bridge (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

img_1368

Concrete armchair at Hokitika

img_1369

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.

wp_20161204_11_28_59_pro

Interesting shop front in Ross

wp_20161204_11_28_18_pro

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!

wp_20161204_06_59_51_pro

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.

wp_20161204_14_56_46_pro

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.

wp_20161204_15_01_12_pro

Hari Hari plane plaque

wp_20161204_15_01_27_pro_edited

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.

img_1376

Getting my yellow card

img_1377

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.

img_1375

Getting close to Hari Hari

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

wp_20161203_06_40_57_pro

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).

img_1348

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.

img_1350-1

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.

img_1353-1

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.

img_1358-1

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

wp_20161203_13_28_26_pro

The beach at the lunch stop

wp_20161203_13_28_30_pro

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.

img_1352-1

Beautiful ride today

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 19: Friday 2 Dec – rest day in Westport

It was really nice to not have to be up at 6am. I got up about 8am, made some tea and toast and marmalade, and back to bed. I got up again about 9am – first job the washing. Luckily when I went to the wash house there was a spare machine. Whilst I was waiting for it to wash I sorted out my bags. Then as it was such a great day and lots of pegs in the wash house, I hung it on the line.

Then I headed into town – a 5 minute walk – to get a few things: inter tube for bike, washing powder, and a new book, then lunch at the Port Side Bistro. I had a really nice pan fried turbot fish with salad.

On my way to the Port Side Bistro I walked past a lady selling Christmas raffles. As I walked past she called out “Kaye!” and it turned out it was a family friend Elizabeth Kydunski who I had not seen for years. Elizabeth and her daughter are living down here and later tonight she has the opening of her mosaic work at the Art Hotel. It was great to catch up and we promised to call in later tonight to the opening.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In Westport looking up to the mountains (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then I went back to the motel with the mission to catch up with the blog. At 5.15pm I caught up with Brett, Michele and Tony for cheese and wine, and then we headed off back to the Denniston Dog again for dinner.

On the way to dinner we went to the Art Hotel in Westport to see Elizabeth’s exhibition . It was very interesting, some glass that Elizabeth had bought back from Japan after the tusamami all different colors, plus art driftwood and the main focus of her exhibition was a mosaic presentation of the 12 stages of the cross from Christ being arrested to rising again.

At dinner I had chicken liver pate and a Denniston dog pizza (chorizo, jalapeno and cheese) plus a glass of Gatekeepers Shiraz. Justina was riding past, she had been to Cape Foulwind to visit the seals so she joined us for dinner. It turns out she is currently working in Switzerland but is actually from Poland.

Back to the motel  to pack and get ready for the next three riding days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next three days of riding (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 18: Thursday 1 Dec – Murchison to Westport

Riding 97km today – climbing 1,200 metres and 1,400 down.

Thankfully a shorter ride today as my legs don’t have much in them after the past couple of days.

I had no cell coverage again last night was unexpected as was the no coverage in Nelson in the Maitai Valley. Must be a hill in the way of the tower.

Today was officially the first day of summer. Ha I thought as I pulled on my arm warmers and leg warmers. Should have put my full finger gloves on as well as my fingers were very cold the first few kilometres.

For breakfast Yarnez decided to have a go at a roast lamb and potato hot pot/ stir fry – not his most successful dish, but I appreciated his efforts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Breakfast this morning (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

I set off with one new tyre on the back, so was hopeful that I would have no problems with flat tyres today. Luckily there were not too many trucks that early before we got to the turn off to Westport and away from the Kaikoura to Christchurch traffic diversion. Instantly the roads were calmer, hardly any traffic and the few trucks there were you could hear them coming awhile away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A stretch of road today (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

A few climbs and my legs were hopeless,  it was like riding with concrete gum boots on. I gritted my teeth and kept grinding, focusing on that it was a shorter riding day and a rest day tomorrow.

Stopped at 51km stop for coffee and then around the corner at 57 km was the lunch truck. There was a much lighter atmosphere than yesterday with only 40km left to ride, no longer lots of trucks and mostly downhill 😀 Plus the weather was warm and not windy.

img_1325-1

Even so it seemed a long ride, every uphill was endless with legs that were not cooperative with climbing. It was very pretty scenery, the Buller river was very fast moving you would not want to slip in as it would be hard to get back out.

img_1330-2

Travelling down the Buller Gorges

There were a few narrow bits and some traffic-light controlled bridges, which had a button for cyclists to push as a bike was not heavy enough to activate the lights.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bridge where you have to push a button to get across (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Finally I got into Westport (only just before 2, so even though the day has felt hard it really wasn’t in term of distance and climbing). We were staying at the Buller Bridge Motel. Right by the sign that says “Spacious and quiet” was a road crew digging up the road. Luckily they won’t be working over night.

img_1322-1

On the West Coast

I had a shower and a rest and then went to the Denniston Dog Restaurant for dinner with Brett, Michele, Tony, Chris and Linda (Chris has done 7 TDA rides and did the whole South American EFI, plus won the men’s race, Linda did part of South  America, this her 3rd TDA ride). We also invited Sue but she had already made plans.

We had just sat down and ordered a drink when another big TDA group arrived and sat at the next table, 5 minutes later another big TDA group arrived – it was almost like being at camp!

Most of us had steak that you cooked on a stone hot plate yourself. A big serving of meat. I cooked mine in two halves so one half could be resting while I cooked the other half. It was really good, and if it wasn’t you could only blame the chef. I was too full for desert but a couple of people shared a cheesecake. The dark chocolate and cherry cheesecake looked pretty good. There was a very limited wine selection, in the end we all agreed on a Gatekeeper Aussie Shiraz being the best choice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sizzling plate, pork and apple (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Jessica had said there was a fundraiser at a local pub to support a BMX track being built so we called in, it looked pretty tame. They were about to have an auction so we made a donation and left. We called into a pub further down the street called the Cosmopolitan, unlike the Denniston Dog which was crowded and humming, this place was deserted: the publican, a punter on the slot machines, and 2 customers who left just after we came in.

We returned to the Denniston Dog and it was still humming. The difference I think was the very friendly bar staff – two younger ladies with an extensive knowledge of cocktails. We decided to have a cocktail called a Tobblerone. It was absolutely delicious but quite a high alcohol content. Luckily we were not silly enough to do another round.

One customer had a cocktail called a “Dogs breath” which was lit on fire and he had to swallow the drink in the glass and breathe in the fumes – he looked quite glassy eyed afterwards. There was also a cocktail called a “Bubblegum”. The bar lady gave us a small taste, it did taste just like bubblegum. Time to return to our motels.

Yay rest day tomorrow.

img_1321-1

Travelling down the Buller Gorges

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