Firstly a big thanks to all who gave donations on the canteen web site and to those still thinking about it the site is still operating.
Day 1 Friday 19th Oct. Palm. Nth to Bay View 192k
7.50am saw us start from Terrace End, a cool grey morning with a steady westerly that blew us through the Gorge where we only encountered half a dozen cars. Our first stop was at Ruahine School where the children and staff had a “funky hair day” with we three doing the judging and giving out prizes that Pedal Pushes and Armstrong Prestige had donated.Their donations raised just over $200 for the cause and after over an hour at the school we left in high spirits. That was a highlight that was going to be hard to beat.
Thirty minutes out of Dannevirke we meet up briefly with the USO boys doing their North Cape to Bluff ride, a quick chat and photos and it was on the road again. They struggled into cold wet windy conditions while we had the wind and rain at our backs.Lunch at Norsewood and then up highway 50 where the traffic was less.Most of the day was good steady riding in low to mid 30kms per hour but the last hour turned wet and very cold and we pulled into our destination a bit like three drowned rats.The average speed for the day was a tad over 30kph and we had climbed a total of 1207meters. Riding time 6hours 19 min.
Day 2 Saturday 20th Oct. Bay View to Taupo 135k
8.15am breakfast at Wild Bean. I would later regret such a light breakfast.The day started with a light NW wind that gradually grew in strength as the day wore on and moved more to the north.JB was the only one of the three of us that had previously ridden this section of the trip and he left us with no misconceptions as to how hard it was going to be. Pray the wind does not get up he had said the night before (we forgot to pray!). Our plan had been to stop at the cafe half way across for a meal but when we arrived we found it was shut due to power failure not even water due to no power for their pump. Luckily the toilet block had gravity feed water so it was a case of mix up some more Heed and push on.The next stop on the road was the Rangitaiki Hotel. Feet up, a good bite to eat and then it was a case of head down and battle straight into a very strong head wind. We took 15 sec turns on the front and I was glad I was following wheels I knew and trusted.Taupo was a very welcome site after 6hrs 17 min riding and 2222metres of climbing most of which is done over a 70k stretch of the route. Average speed 21.4kph.
Day 3. Sunday 21st Oct.Taupo to Taihape 143k
6.20am start to try and beat some of the wind. Lake Taupo had good waves on it and the thought of a surfing holiday went through our minds. There was misty drizzle all the way to Turangi where it turned to very cold rain so it was hot breakfast at the truck stop.On went our last layers of merino and we pushed on to the Desert Road. Those of you that were following us on live tracking will have seen it showed us stopped at Rangipo Prison over night. No we were not thrown in jail the tracking just decided to go on the blink until next morning, it did prompt a text message from one of our wives worried if we had been in a mishap. To say the cross winds on the Desert Road were tough would be an understatement, by the afternoon it was probably unridable. Colin and JB turned the cafe at Waiouru into an impromptu laundry but apparently the cafe is quite used to that happening. Waioru to Taihape was the fastest ride of the whole weekend the 29k taking well under an hour.An early stop for the day meant we could watch the Tri in Auckland on TV and scoff at the easy conditions they had to ride in.My 65th birthday was celebrated that evening at Taihape’s best restaurant and then an early night (we must be getting old).Day 3 had seen us ride for 5hrs 24 min with an average speed of 26.5 and total of 1638 metres climbed.Anyone who says Taupo to P.N. is all downhill has not ridden it in conditions like we struck!!
Day 4. Monday 22nd Oct. Taihape to P.N.117k
This was our shortest ride and although we were getting a bit tired it was probably the easiest. Another 6.30am start saw us once again trying to beat the wind but to no avail. The Marton straights were bloody awful with cross wind, rough road surface and a shoulder not wide enough for three riders. Third wheel was tougher than taking the lead so it was a huge relief to turn onto Kakariki road and finally get a tail wind.Wild Bean in Feilding was our final cafe stop then a dash home for handshakes all around and a joke about what we could do for our 70th birthdays. Final day riding time was 4hrs 12 min at an average of 27.7 and total climbing of 619 metres.
In summary, in spite of unfavourable conditions it was a great weekend spent in great company. We achieved our aim of celebrating our 65th birthdays doing something we have a passion for, raised some money for Canteen and just as importantly raised awareness of the cause amongst the public with newspapers in P.N. Dannivirke,Napier and Taupo all covering our adventure with photos and articles.Once again a big thanks to all those who gave donations and prizes.
John Lithgow, Colin(Wal) Anderson, John Burmister.