2019–1001- 4 Days In
We are 4 days, 580 kms and over 6000 metres of climbing in to our 7 day, 1001 km and nearly 9000 metres of elevation adventure, and so far it’s been a blast.
Day 1 saw us leave from the Bike Barn in Palmerston North in 3 riding groups, full of anticipation for a great trip. Our support vehicle supplied by Garry Buys of Bike Barn is driven by Neil Vertogen and his wife Jayne – both of whom we can’t thank enough for not only their roadside assistance, but also their help with logistics upon arrival at our destinations – you guys have been amazing – thanks from the whole team.
We headed over the Pahiatua Track, through Mangamaire and Eketahuna, stopping at the wildlife sanctuary for a drink and something to eat. After leaving here, we encountered rain and a nagging headwind (that was to become our faithful companion), and arrived at Carterton for lunch.
By the time we left Carterton, the rain had stopped, but the headwind hadn’t. We travelled on to Featherston and climbed the Rimutaka Hill road in to Upper Hutt, and on to Wellington. Along the way we were treated to some pretty amazing views of the Manawatu, wairarapa and Wellington regions.
We were met by the van at the Intercontinental Hotel in Wellington, where we were able to shower up before having dinner, while they laundered our riding kit. After dinner at the Greenman Pub, we headed to the ferry to board and fund our cabins for the overnight sailing to Picton.
Day 2 we arrived in Picton to much better conditions than those the we encountered in 2016 on our SPCA 640 trip. We had a great ride along the scenic. Queen Charlotte Drive to Havelock for our breakfast on the waterfront at the Slip Inn Cafe. After breakfast we headed to Renwick, then on to Waiau – we stopped at the local ‘establishment’ for a light refreshment before departing for St Arnaud. While riding we saw NZ cyclist George Bennett out getting some training kms in, and met our friend – Headwind again. We were all in desperate need of a cafe stop, and were teased with signs saying ‘cafe just ahead’ for what seemed like forever, when we finally got to our oasis in the desert – a coffee and ice cream cart. The ice cream was just what we needed – but the bees were not – the headwind and bees, it seemed, were vying for the number one spot on our friends list – and it’s hard to pick which one was worse – while we were stopped, there was no headwind, but while we were riding, the bees weren’t such an issue.
After our ice cream, we tackled the headwind again, and a climb to a ski field before descending in to St Arnaud.
We found our accommodation, cleaned ourselves up and then enjoyed homemade burgers for dinner, then a walk down to the lake. St Arnaud is a beautiful spot in our country full of fabulous scenery and stunning vistas – but here we found a 3rd contender for the number one spot on our friends list – sandflies – no bees this time, but our friend headwind was there, accompanied by sandflies.
Day 3, we left St Arnaud, along with our friend headwind. We rode through a gorgeous valley/gorge – predominantly downhill until Murchison, where our friends the bees decided to rejoin us. After a stop on Murchison, we carried on to springs junction for another refreshment stop before the final 15 or so kilometres to our stop for the night – Maruia Springs. Our friends the bees had left, but we were rejoined by the sandflies. Here we were able to use the hot pools, and some hardy souls braved the ice cold plunge pool. While having dinner here, someone came up with the idea of a race the next day over the Lewis Pass. Group 3 were to start at 9am, group 2 at 9.40am and group 1 at 10am, and the first complete team to make it to Hanmer would have their first round shouted to them. This promoted a lot of strategising and banter among the teams.
Day 4 – race day! And no headwind – in fact we were finally treated to a nice tailwind. Jeremy Rowe had been analysing Strava and decided he wanted to have a crack at the Strava segment and left first to see what he could do – he returned 30-40 minutes later searching for wifi to see if he had done it – and he had, by more than 2 minutes – well done Jeremy.
The groups all left in time, all talking up a big game. The climb up the Lewis Pass, as far as climbs go was pretty good, the gradient fairly gentle, it was just long – and perhaps going in to a 6km climb first thing wasn’t ideal. Today’s ride was absolutely spectacular in terms of scenery – and lots of photographs were taken despite the race. The results are a little hazy as we aren’t sure which ‘complete’ team was at the finish first – but all in all, it added something different to our day.
We got to our accommodation, and had a relaxing afternoon before going to dinner.
Today, day 5 sees us heading over Mt Lyford to Kaikoura – and looking out the window, the wind has returned – but hopefully it’s s tailwind