Apologies, and this is going to annoy me forever that it’s out of sync, but this one didn’t post yesterday for some reason!
Another snoozed alarm, but this time with good reason. James had woken up with the lergy. Two days of hard riding had taken its toll on him and he just had nothing to give.
We went to the camp cafe for breakfast because the thought of porridge with water a-gain was not appealing. Jeff the German guy in the kitchen who had last night cooked up spag Bol and a vegan wrap for the TA riders was back in the kitchen and waiting for us, because all the other riders had long gone and we were one of the last again. He whipped up some scrambled eggs for James and toast for me, he also went through the condiment jars and picked out everything vegan he had in there (I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d eaten snapper the night before as he was so stoked he’d found something for me to eat)
We eventually left and set out on climb number 1 of the day, back out the valley. The map showed it to be long and steep, but listening to old Chris Moyles podcasts from the time of the London 2012 olympics helped the time pass. Once again, it was hot, very hot.
We turned off onto a gravel road and cycled up to a place I recognised from the Tour Aotearoa Facebook group, Donnellys crossing. Fellow TA riders had been raving about the selection of cakes, sandwiches salads and coffee and they weren’t wrong. I noticed some sausage rolls in the fridge and one of the ladies said they were still frozen, but jumped into action and defrosted them so James could have 2. Then there were some sandwiches with pineapple, onion, ham cheese and lettuce. James turned his nose up and the weirdness of that concoction so she made him a plain cheese, ham and lettuce one. They were so stoked to have the Tour coming through their village and it was clear to see. Such lovely people who couldn’t do enough for you.
We jumped back on the bikes and head up and over some hills, James was really struggling and running on empty. No matter how much sugar I tried to feed him, nothing made him smile. We hit a nice long downhill section, getting up to 68kph which was quite fun, but then, what goes down, must come up…
The route took us into the back end of beyond once more this time along a gravel road through farmland. Some youngish (late teenager) fans of the Tour Aotearoa were stood along the route waiting for passing riders then BOOM my back bag hits my tyre. I jump off to see what’s happened and my rear rack has broken. I holler at James who had cycled ahead and he comes back to fix it. Shit. The frame has actually cracked. This isn’t a little job. With the help of some cable ties, flexi-straps and James’ ingenuity he manages to somehow tie it back together. We still had 10k left on the hideous gravel road. When travelling at 8kph because James is so dead it doesn’t make for fun cycling.
Eventually we made it to Dargerville, an “interesting” town with nothing happening and somewhere id happily never visit again.
The second stint of today was 70k with the last 25k on gravel roads. With a dodgy bike rack it was going to be a test.
The road out of town was just straight, up and down and straight. The sun had once again graced us with its hideous presence and was soooo hot. Again, so had the head/cross wind. It was once again really tough.
I was sat on the front trying to take the headwind to make James’ life a little easier, but as soon as I got going, turned around and he was 30m down the road behind me, just struggling.
Around 40km left to go we were down to our final water bottles, I had made the decision to go into the next house near the road and ask for water. We past one with a cute looking doggo outside and I go up to the gate. The dog (named Shy) just started barking so the owner came out and kindly filled up our water bottles for us.
We cracked on, knowing there was a huge climb still to come. At the start of what I thought was “the climb” I got off to walk for a bit as my feet were killing (blisters from yesterday had got no better) we shared a can of coke and observed once again just how much rubbish was at the side of the road.
On we went, eventually being overtaken by a very enthusiastic guy, who we didn’t recognise so he must’ve been from the riders who started the day after us. Good effort!
He stopped for water that someone had left outside their letterbox for us, and we got chatting, he was full of beans which was just what we needed today.
Somehow, he managed to carry us the last 25km into Pouto Point, ready for the ferry in the morning.
We set up camp, had some dinner, this time rice with a side of chips (crisps) and settled down to sleep as we have to be on the boat at 6am so another stupidly early alarm cannot be ignored.
The adventure continues…