After the intensity of the Timber Trail and the Mountains to Sea track the last four days have passed by in a blur of miles and road as I've steamed southward. I won't bore you with the minute detail of every day but will ty to summarise some of the highs and lows of these tarmac times.
Leaving Whanganui I saw a huge hillside above me and knew that I needed to be up on that hill to ride east towards Huntersville. Luckily for me there is the Durie Hill Underground Elevator to take me the 66 metres up to the top. Built in 1919 it's one of a kind and I loved the quirkiness of it. Riding into a tunnel you then have to ring a bell for the lift and it's person operated and a bargain at only $2.
I had a bit of a rough day that day, I felt like I had nothing in my legs, the tank was empty and every hill was like a mountain. Having originally had thoughts to ride to Rangiwahia I was struggling to even make it the forty six miles to Huntersville. I was having a very strange day, I felt very emotional and was thinking a lot about my Gran who sadly passed away two years ago. In fact I probably haven't even mentioned it but Bamboo Betty is named Betty after my beloved Gran. So there were a few tears that day and twenty miles of country music to try and get me to Huntersville. Arriving there in the rain I hid in a cafe and tried to cheer myself up with a cup of the good stuff.
Listening to my tired little legs I took off in the early afternoon to a campsite a few miles down the route and spent a wonderful afternoon lying in my tent resting and eating. I'd bought the cheapest packet of biscuits I could find in Huntersville, Afghans and I have to say that they were rather delicious. I ate the full packet and enjoyed every chocolately crumb.
There were a few nice stretches of gravel riding the next day en route to Ashurst which had some lovely views, a totally different day of sunshine and smiles.
In the heat of the day when you're riding through the middle of knowhere there is nothing more amazing than a bit of trail angel love. A table of cold drinks each $1, with free local plums and grapes on offer was a welcome respite for myself, Harry and James at the Pohangina Recreation Reserve.
Spending that night down by the river in a very quiet reserve campsite I awoke in the morning and noticed that my front tyre was a bit soft. I pumped it up and was unscrewing the hose attachment from the valve when the blooming valve unscrewed with the hose and left me with a completely flat tyre.
Not to worry, I got out my trusty CO2 tool with canister and then managed to break the pin from the inside that punctures the CO2 tin. By some miracle it had worked enough to get a jet of CO2 in the tyre to inflate it partially and so I managed to pump the rest up by hand and ensured that the valve stayed where it should this time. So that necessitated a bit of a detour later that day into Palmerston North, or Palmy as the locals affectionately call it. The guys at the Bike Barn there were really friendly and I was kitted out with a new CO2 trigger and canisters and on my way in no time. It had been a rather stressful morning really because I'd also used my last teabag for breakfast - no more Tetley's tea for me this trip. Thankfully I'd been given a recommendation of Dilmah's English Breakfast tea by Claire when I was in Taupo (we always discuss the most important issues us girls!) and grabbed a supply on my way out of Palmy. An altogether successful end to what had started out as a rather stressful morning!
Arriving into Eketahuna at the end of that day I was excited to find my first kiwi bird.
I don't think it's to scale and it's not particularly alive but apparently I'm in real kiwi country now, haha! Staying at the local campsite was a really fun night. James who I'd met a few days before and then again that day outside of a bakery in Paihiatua arrived and so did Rochelle and Tim whom I'd seen at the campsite in Huntersville. We had a good chat together that night and I introduced James to my new addiction and the best fuel ever, Whittakers Peanut Slab. A long while ago, Eric (who I rode with on the Waikato River trails day) had mentioned them to me but I hadn't seen any in the shops. Well as soon as I tried one it was love at first bite and now they're my daily pick-me-up and a slight addiction....
My final day saw me flying down the highway to Martinborough, quite literally with the most amazing tailwind. After weeks of headwind just one day with the wind on your side makes for such a wonderful respite and for me it meant a nice half-day of riding. Having hammered out just under sixty miles in five hours I arrived in Martinborough to find that there was a huge market and fair taking place. Luckily the holiday park had kept one pitch free for cyclists and so within an hour I had my laundry hanging out in the sun to dry and was freshly showered with clean hair - blissful. Just in time to meet up with Jess, a TA rider I'd met a few weeks ago back on my first boat ride from Pouto Point to Helensville. He'd only had enough leave from work to ride the North Island and so we'd kept in touch as I was going to try to catch up with him in Palmy where he was working. Having ridden through there in the daytime that didn't work and as it was a weekend he'd offered to drive down to see me which was cool. We wandered into town and had a brief look around but I didn't want to buy anything as I couldn't carry it and so we did what all good cyclists do and went to eat! There was so much food, I had pork taco's and most of a wonderful sharing board of meats, cheese and other tasty nibbles. A few hours of bike and life chat later we waddled out to find ice cream, a lovely end to a very nice afternoon.
So that's why I've not been writing regularly, too much socialising, haha! I feel like I'm now on the downhill slope to Wellington and towards the end of my North Island travels but there's more adventure in store as I head off-route in the next few days. Watch this space!
I nearly forgot this beauty I saw along the road to Martinborough....