Today, kids, we are going to talk about a variety of feelings.
We got up and left Dan’s friends place later than planned (which is unusual for us, I know). Getting on the bikes was a struggle, muscles are stiff from yesterday’s efforts, there’s a few niggly joints and muscles, and for some reason it’s difficult to get comfortable.
We often start the day reflecting on yesterday’s ride, and being optimistic/naive that today’s ride will be easier. Which I think is part of the reason we don’t necessarily feel the need to get going early like everyone else seems to. Today is definitely going to be an easier day.
First priority is breakfast at the cafe about 50m down the road - Eggs Benedict! Our third of the trip, culinarily excellent, and another delay at the start of the day. We head down to Richmond, and make another stop at the supermarket to stock up on supplies as we expect to be camping tonight. Another delay. The sky is grey and we don’t really feel like getting into it today. Eventually, we run out of excuses, so we get going properly.
We’re climbing gradually, averaging about 20kph along gravel cycle trails. It feels like it’s taking forever, and 20kph feels like my top speed.
We make it to lunchtime at 1pm, having only covered about 40km, out of a target of 140-150 today. It was supposed to be easy. Back on the bikes - but knowing there’s still over 100km of riding ahead, it’s really hard to get motivated.
Out of Tapawera, as we start climbing, the Vanilla Coke, muesli bars & peanuts I just shovelled in in the hope of getting some energy seem to be doing the trick. And with some energy comes a slightly brighter frame of mind; the scenery is better, the animals look friendlier, and the road surface is ok.
After a few hours though, we’re still climbing, and we still haven’t travelled over 100km. A blackberry vine snags my leg, the gravel is rough, and my exercise maths is terrible. It seems when I’m riding, maths is infinitely harder, so figuring out how much further or how much longer is a fraught exercise. And not knowing how much further we need to climb, or how much further to the next turn is frustrating. Although to be honest, I’m not sure whether it helps to know or not.
We start descending, then arrive onto the highway, where we continue descending. It’s early evening, and I know we’ve still got quite a few km and a bunch of climbing to do. As we turn off the highway, it’s 6:22pm, and we’ve only just clicked over 110km. I feel completely spent. Done. I’m over it. I doubt I can do more than another couple of km. The place we’re trying to get to is probably another 30+km and two decent climbs away. That’s hours and hours of riding.
But it has to be done .. so we do it. A few km at a time. A few metres of elevation at a time. And slowly, as we make progress, it gets easier. And would you believe it, after 10km, I’m not spent anymore. I’m tired, but I’m not depressed at how far we have to go, or how late it is. It’s there to do .. so we do it.
And eventually, after 142km, we pull off the road, and in the dark, arrive at a friend’s hunting hut. Dave had been watching our spot tracker earlier in the day, and offered us his family’s forestry block hut.
And oh MAN, it's the best accomodation I could have imagined. Thanks Dave, you are a proper legend! And because today was such a hard day, the family pack of macaroni we each eat is delicious, the fire is so much warmer, the shower we heated off the wetback is great, the hot chocolate is incredible, and the bunks are the most comfortable beds ever made. Parts of it didn’t seem it at the time, but now that its done, what a brilliant day!
144km total distance
1353 m elevation gain
8:07 riding time
51.8 kph max