Eventually James decided he wanted to wake from his beauty sleep having snoozed the alarm from 5:30.
We packed up and head to the supermarket to pick up some pasta for the next two nights dinner as we were heading into the wop wops to ride the bridge to nowhere. The now infamous route for all the wrong reasons as 4 Tour Aotearoa riders have been emergency helicopetered off the track in the past month. (Sorry mum(s)! But we’re here writing this, so it’s all good, right)
The route started on tarmac and took us through some back end of nowhere hills which were absolutely beautiful if not a little bit freezing! In the distance we had a glorious view of Mount Ruhapehu, where we went snowboarding for my birthday last year.
The tarmac soon turned to gravel and we wiggled our way up our first climb of the day, through farmland, joined along the way buy some goats, sheep and cows and a ‘fun coloured parrot’ I don’t know what it was, but it looked cool
We get to the top where the book says there should be a town. There’s nothing, other than a hairdressers (random) and James jokes that it’s so beautiful he wants to live there, and would set up a rival hairdressers that would do nails too to get people to come out 40k on a gravel road just to see him!
The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it was pretty perfect really. Until the logging trucks came through and we stepped off to the side to avoid a lung full of gravel
Eventually we end up at the blue duck station which is the last stop for food and water before the bridge to nowhere, so we stopped to test out their cheese and onion toasties (good real bread, excellent chunky coleslaw, not enough onion in case you were wondering). Some touring Aussies also stopped and were talking to James. He seems to have the art of attracting weirdos to come and talk to him, which is hilarious as he HATES talking to them but does so smiling sweetly.
We crack on and the gravel road turns to shit, big old chunks of rock, thick mud. There was a warning note to ask TA riders to walk the next 5km. So James rides through the gate and we both ride for a bit as it’s all pretty open, wide and dry.
Eventually the trail gets really up and down and muddy. The drop off to the left is huge down to the river bed. I get freaked out a bit about being the 5th person airlifted from that stretch and start walking and James kindly waits for me.
We get to the first campsite and bump into James and Amy, two guys who camped with us the two nights previous. We however decide to continue up the hill, with the intention of making the 8:30am boat back down the river the following day (although we were booked on the 1:30 one)
We head up the track that James had promised me was a 4×4 track. It wasn’t. It was more of the same shit. Eventually we make it out into a field where some cows were chilling out and onto the 4×4 track.
The hill according to the book was steep and long, but once we got going, it wasn’t that bad, just a mellow climb up, and up, and up and yay we made it to the top and were treated to the most beautiful sunset with Mount Taranaki in the distance.
With daylight fading fast, we put on our jackets to head straight back down the hill. Oh, but what’s that… James has read the book wrong again and we didn’t go straight back down, we continued climbing for another 2k, sweating our arses off in our rain jackets! JAAAAAAAMES!
Then finally we made it to the top, the actual top this time, stopped for some pictures as the view had got even better, checked the brakes were working and flew off down the hill.
3 corners in I stopped as I saw some goats in the distance and got James to turn on the go-pro, we continued. The descent was loooooong. We had to stop to stretch out our fingers and then get going again. Just as we set off I went hooning around the corner and nearly crash into a deer who was more startled to see me I think.
We continue for about half an hour and the light disappeared, so we stop to put on lights and head torches, when we look up, there’s a little tiny owl in the tree above our heads (I’ve since found out it’s called a morepork and they’re naughty little things and eat other native birds eggs – but they’re cute!) it was pretty cool to see.
Eventually we make it to the campsite where we had planned to camp, 6km from the Bridge to Nowhere, our destination for the morning. There were already two tents there, who just so happen to belong to Wagga Wagga man (Glen the Aussie who rides a heavily laden touring bike and is from Wagga Wagga) and Scott, the Aussie who wrestled a cow – see yesterday’s blog for that story.
As it’s pitch black they’re already fed and in bed. We try to put up the tent and make dinner as quickly and quietly as possible. A difficult mission when we only have one head torch between us!
I am joined by hundreds (James: actually 3) rats at the table whilst trying to cook up a ‘6 person’ portion of pasta. Soon enough the tent is ready and we retreat into the tent to warm up and eat food. Note to self, a 6 person portion of pasta is not enough for two hungry souls who have biked 100km and climbed 1700m with two loaded bikes!! So we scoff down the sandwiches made for tomorrow’s lunch too.
The temperature drops rapidly and it’s freezing cold, but all wrapped up in our sleeping bags (and still in the days stinky bike kit) we go off to sleep.
The adventure continues…