On 28th December 2011 the Stannard family set off on an epic three day cycling tour through the back roads of the Manawatu and Rangitikei. This is their story….
Steve has instigated a form of handicapping revolving around the carrying of our gear. The stronger members of the family (Steve and Robert) carry most of the gear in two rear panniers each, Elizabeth gets a back pack full of the days food supplies and Thomas has a camel back and race wheels. Katherine has not only two rear panniers, but is riding her mountain bike – not because she is stronger than Steve and Robert, but because she is least likely of the other three to burst into tears if she is left behind on the hills!
So we set off through the familiar territory of Lockwood and Main Drain Roads, before turning onto the slightly more exotic Kellow Road, and finally getting into new territory out around Ohakea on Tangimaona Road. We cross the bridge into Bulls and head straight for the delights of the Bulls Bakery (ed – i – bull?). After our lunch stop we wend our way to Marton, through cornfields and cow paddocks east of SH3. Our first time as “tourists” in Marton! The Adobe Motel provides a friendly overnight stop with a pool to cool off in and (for some) the highlight of the trip when the motel neighbour decides to burn off a lounge and, subsequently, the new motel fence. The result was a call-out for the Marton Fire Brigade, much to the excitement of the neighborhood children.
I should mention here that our choice of route was eventually determined by the availability of accommodation in the region at this time of year, not solely by our desire to savour the delights of Marton and Cheltenham.
Stage 2 Marton to Cheltenham (75km)
Next morning, with rain threatening later in the day, we head north from Marton towards Hunterville, around the “other” side of Mt Curl. This provides spectacular views of Ruapehu and the wild hill country west of the Rangitikei as well as about 2km of gravel road. Within the first 50m of hitting gravel both boys end up on the grass verge and we crawl down to the bottom of the steep descent, around the corner…. an even steeper ascent, which continues up around the next corner, and the next, etc etc – we all end up walking. Fortunately tar seal kicks back in at the very top and we fly back down towards SH1. After a few hundred metres on the main road we turn onto another quiet road and arrive in Hunterville for morning tea.
Our second time on SH1, we tiptoe single file along to the Vinegar Hill turn off. This is the most northerly point of our soujourn and we are hoping for tail winds all the way home. Riding along the Rangitikei we make a few stops to enjoy the views. Robert pulls out the ride of the day when he burns everybody off on the climb to Stormy Point, outsprinting Elizabeth for KOM honours despite carrying about 20kg extra! Katherine is not worried about getting to the lookout 5 minutes later – she has ensured that the boys will be eagerly waiting for her by keeping the tour supply of chocolate fish in her panniers. We coast down to Cheltenham via Beaconsfield with the wind at our backs and arrive just as the rain starts to fall. Day two riding is done and we are ready to enjoy the delights of the “Chelty”.
A game of pool, a beer, a pub meal, and a soft bed; what more could a cycle tourist want!
Stage 3 Cheltenham to Palmerston North via Apiti (110km)
Rain falls all night and next morning dawns wet. Our plan has been to head home via Apiti and Ashhurst, but from our bedroom window the big green sign beckons us “Palmerston North 32km” – a glance in the other direction reveals a smaller blue sign “Apiti 36km”. This is going to be a tough call. After breakfast we hold a council of war. The kids are all keen to go to Apiti and we decide that even if we get soaked, we are heading home and will have plenty of dry clothes once we get there. Apiti it is!
Once on the road the weather improves and after a Nutella sandwich stop on the verandah of the Apiti Inn we take off our rain jackets. Thomas is storming, challenging vigorously for every KOM between Apiti and Ashhurst. This from a boy whose previous world record ride was 56km, only done the week before we left!
The heavens open again as we ride down College St – we know we’re nearly home!
3 days – 260km – 1 puncture – 0 crashes
· Bananas 10
· Oranges 10
· Apples 5
· Pasta dinners 5
· Tubs of Nutella 1
· Loaves of Bread 2
· Packets of muesli 2
· Milk 2L
· Yoghurt 1L
· Bulls Bakery Delights 5
· Bacon and Egg Sandwiches 3
· Meat pies 2 (Robert and Thomas)
· Handles of Beer 2 (Steve and Katherine)
· Steak and egg dinners 3
· HUGE seafood platters 2 (Robert and Thomas)
· Desserts 2 (those pub meals were pretty big)
· Chocolate fish 1 school
· Redskins 1 tribe
· Ice blocks 10
· Big pub breakfasts 5
· Bottles of water heaps…
· Energy drinks Nil
· Power Bars Nil
· Squeezies Nil
Quotes of the tour;
Robert, climbing out of Apiti: “As soon as I get home I’m putting a smaller gear on this bike……..oh, I’m still in the big chain ring”
Elizabeth, 200km into the trip: “I’m not going to go very well in the Hub Tour – I haven’t done any riding”. (She’ll make a professional with excuses like that).