It is at this point I cry…. the stupid friggin app I use to ‘blog’ has just crashed on me losing an hour and a half of blog. At which point James helpfully said ‘well did you not learn after last time and save it’ ….his body is now resting in a very muddy field soon to be attacked by Cyclone Debbie. I joke, but if looks could kill he would no longer be with us! NO I DIDN’T BLOODY SAVE IT!
*saves every line*
With the impeding arrival of two friendly faces, Payner and Jonesy, we set off on a little adventure to break up the 3 1/2 hour journey to the airport.
The plan was to stop off in Hamilton, unfortunately like the rest of New Zealand, Hamilton seems to fall asleep on a Sunday so we didn’t stop for long.
We then head off to a legal freedom camping site which was free for the night, online it was described as a field with a toilet and fresh water hose.
Before we arrived we agreed if we were the only people there, we wouldn’t stop there and we’d go somewhere else because you know, if there was a zombie apocalypse we couldn’t fend them off on our own (and it would be a little bit dodge in a field on our on in the arse end of nowhere!)
When we arrived there were a couple of vans, so we found a spot next to the water supply and a van with two Germans who would later become my favourite people when they gifted us some tomato sauce, lime juice and washing up liquid as they were leaving the following day.
We set up shop, did some afternoon yoga in the sunshine which felt amazing, and finished off the banner to which we would greet the Jersey folk with.
For the first time, I got to use the camping stove Lisa kindly gave us as a leaving present which was amazing! And cooked up a little treat, along with a cuppa tea and filled up the hot water bottle because in classic Victoria style I’m always freezing!
After a few heavy days riding behind us it was only going to be ‘a little leg spinner’ so after signing the disclaimer, picking up a map we set off
Having nearly fallen off my bike twice before even taking that picture it was going to make for an interesting ride. Then, we met a local. Some say local knowledge is helpful, THIS GUY WAS NOT. He suggested a ‘nice’ 5k loop which was the other side of the forest, nice it may have been, however I had run out of water, had no food and was getting tired and there was nothing nice about it. James may have described my tantrum as nice but I doubt it, I was proper moody!
Not even the thought of pizza for dinner helped un-grump me!!
(The homemade pizza for dinner did actually turn out to be quite nice!)
We spent the night on the beach at Karekare, which was lovely, James practiced his flag waving (he should have been a majorette)
Finally, it was arrival day. Standing in Sydney Airport about 2 months ago with Payner phoning James to say he’d got an entry in the EWS (Enduro World Series, basically a big bike race..!) and Payner would be coming to see us in New Zealand seemed a world away, but, it was happening!
The Jersey contingency arrived and after a trip to the shop for some road trip cookies and burger crisps we were good to go and ready to hit the road, well sort of, we had minimal fuel and fuel near the airport was bloody expensive so we only topped up $10 and crossed our fingers.
The fuel light came on, and off, and on and stayed on, we stopped at a fuel station which helpfully didn’t have diesel so we continued – will light now beeping at me as well as flashing. Finally got to Matamata (where hobbiton is) and filled up. Never have I been so happy to see a fuel station!
We got back home to Rotorua and went to our Air bnb which was helpfully based just around the corner from the Redwoods forest where the biking is, and met the owner Helen and her partner who we only know as ‘drunk man’ after he told us a story about being a young Austrian chef in Jersey in the 70’s and got caught 5 times over the legal drink drive limit, chucked in prison for a couple of weeks then ran away from the Island never to return again.
The house was awesome, and strange. We took over the poor woman’s garage with all our biking gear and the house was a nice self contained unit with beds EVERYWHERE! 2 separate bedrooms with double beds in, 2 lots of bunk beds in the corridor, a double bed and two more singles in the living room. Very random!
The following few days were spent cruising around the forest for Rich to get his bearings followed by two days of practice and the girls to shred the gnarrrrr – although as gnarly as we got was Jonesy doing a forward roll over the bars on a fire road (although it did look bloody impressive AND she didn’t land on her head – success!)
After the second day of practice for the boys, (we spent the day ‘shopping’ trying to find something suitable for an interview with the recruitment agency the next week – note to self shopping in NZ is a ball ache, just don’t do it unless it’s for merino) later in the evening we head into town for the opening ceremony.
Well, it was a sort of thank you for turning up ceremony as there were very few people actually there! So we sat in the reserved seating, as you do!
We head home for some last minute bike tinkering and tried to plan how we would see the boys around the race, as their start times were nearly an hour apart it would be difficult to see both the boys on the stages however, we had a plan, a vague idea how to get around the forest, a map and lots of different times on it.
The next morning was race day, having been told the following evening to be ready to leave the house at 7am, I was promptly ready at 7:10. Only when we were cruising to the start did James tell me that he was actually supposed to be at the start arena for 5 past 7 – cue mini heart attack for Victoria thinking that James would miss the first transition and it would all be a big disaster thanks to my love of sleeping in a real bed not the van, however we got there sort of (not really) on time and James set off for his ‘fun’ day. Thankfully it still hadn’t rained yet, although it was forecast to absolutely p!$$ down later on.
Well, that was the plan. Until when we were waiting for James to come through on stage 3 and Rich called from the bottom of stage 1 to say his crank had fallen off his bike and could we get there so he could take the crank off my bike and continue. In sort, no, we were over an hour away so by the time we had got to him he would have missed the cut off for stage 2 and have a time penalty applied and his race would pretty much be over.
We could do nothing but wait.
Little did we know, Rich had run into the forest and asked if anyone had a crank they would lend him, a lovely couple obliged and lent him the crank, by all accounts it was like a formula 1 pitt stop with the lady’s husband taking off the pedal whilst Rich removed his pedal. Then, he continued.
We hadn’t heard anything, so waited on stage 2 hoping Rich (number 88) would come through. 90 came and went, 89… 87…. 86… at which point asked number 86 who said he had borrowed a crank from someone and had started the stage.
Next we knew Rich was scooting through the end of stage 2 with a crank in one hand and a very miserable face. Sadly the borrowed crank had also come off and his day was over.
Rich is racing a few of the EWS this season and is documenting it all with a podcast and video after each race.
Here’s the pretty awesome video for the Rotorua race;
You can follow his antics with the #EWSorbust hashtag
With Rich’s race over for the day and James still out braving the torrential rain we popped back home for a shower and more warm dry clothes then went to cheer / heckle James on the final stage.
We saw him through the finish, he then had a boring half an hour pedal back to the arena and we hopped in the van with a bag of party mix (the best sweets the world has to offer) and drove to the finish to greet the muddy mess, hosed him off then head home for a proper shower.
Although the clothes came out the washing machine still with mud on!
That evening we went out for dinner so James could have some garlic bread (which he has been missing!) however the novelty of being out having just cycled for 8 hours soon wore off and we went home to bed.
The next day was a write off, we went for a late breakfast, a quick trip to the hardware shop to buy some bits for the van followed by pyjamas spending the day watching YouTube videos, it was still raining and we hadn’t had proper internet since we were in Australia so, it had to be done!
The following day I had an interview with the recruitment agency, which wasn’t even worth getting out of bed for. They were utterly useless! However I now have interview clothes for next time…….. or I will just become a lady of leisure…!
We then ripped out the floor from the back of the van, which was grim! We knew it was slightly broken, but hadn’t realised the wood under the rubber floor was completely mouldy. 3 hours of cleaning later, we had a clean van ready for the new floor and insulation to be put in.
That evening, feeling slightly more energetic we head for a game of bowling, which was fun until I pulled my shoulder out its socket, swapped to left hand bowling then pulled my left elbow out. At which point I should have used the children’s slide and probably would have done better than attempting to use 2 hands! James won the game with 127 (or something like that, the old mans memory isn’t as good as it…. nah!) followed by an hour session on the indoor trampolines when James became the master of front and back flips
The next day Rich and Aimee head off to be hobbits for the day and we turned our hand to van doer-uppers and filled in the holes from the previous screws, cut the wood for the new floor and got it all in with insulation. Job done!
(Having planned to have the bed in at this point we had probably spent too much time watching YouTube and not enough doing the van but hey!)
We spent the afternoon at Crankworx watching the pump track challenge which was pretty awesome and the local hero Keegan Wright won much to the delight of the crowd!
In the evening there was a preview of ‘Ride your f@*#ing bike’ a film for the memory of Stevie Smith, a mountain biker who sadly passed away last year. Basically we just watched another mountain bike video, this time surrounded by hundreds of other mountain bikers.
The sun was shining the following day which only meant one thing…. BIKE TIIIIIIIIME! We went out for an epic adventure around the woods for one last time with the Jersey crew!
Followed by more Crankworx, the novelty of watching something live that we usually have to watch on the tv still hadn’t worn off and we watched as much as we could.
Sunday came around far too quickly which meant it was home time for Jonesy and Rich, not before a quick trip up to the top of the Gondola at Skyline Rotorua to see across the town.
And the Alpaca’s I took a picture of them for you Elaine because I think the sheep, pig and goats may like an Alpaca friend 😉 (James; I’d like a deer as well)
We said goodbye to the amigos and it was back to the two of us and van life once more.
The adventure continues