We were awoken by a screaming baby in the room next door all throughout the night. Then the delightful owners of said baby packed up their things very early (of course didn’t try to be quiet doing this) then set off their car alarm. Lovely.
At least it had stopped raining and the sun was now shining, but still chilly. Today we had planned to get as far as Reefton, up and over two pretty big climbs.
We set off into the headwind as it was still blowing a southerly, yay… the peaceful road soon turned to gravel, yayyy…. and the hills started coming.
Before too long we were into the valley with gorgeous tree lined mountains each side with an incredible blue river down below. This is what it’s all about. You don’t see this sort of thing when driving.
Off we went, bumping into an old guy on an ebike, he was lucky that I wasn’t quite at the stage of mugging him for his ebike yet, we continued along the river through farmland
Eventually we got the the start of the loooong climb. It just went up and up, across a stream and up and round and up and across a stream and up and round (you get the point, it was long) but also pretty cool. Under dense tree cover with the sound of the river below.
At one point a 4×4 came past with a dog running alongside, there hadn’t been civilisation for a while so we’re not sure where they came from or how long the poor doggo had been running!
We made it to the top and started to descend. As we are coming down again (cautiously because of all the gravel and rock) another vehicle comes flying up on the wrong side, sees us then swerved off to the left (our right), the side with a sheer drop down the cliff – how it didn’t fall down I’m still not sure!!
We make it to the bottom and join on the Highway, which was grim due to all the holiday traffic AKA people who have never driven past a bike safely in their life. There are two camps of people, those who are over cautious, slow down and pull out to go around you (I like these people) and those who act like you’re not even there and continue at well over 100km without giving you a cm of room (these people are assholes, don’t be like them…)
Of course we had a headwind too, which meant the road was dragging. We cross a river bridge and I spot something on the road, I stop and park up my bike and run back to rescue it…
A new mascot for the trip. Meet Steggy, or as James likes to call him, Stegman. We stop at the local community hall bench and make a sandwich as although there are 2 cafes in the town, both are closed.
Off we go again, still into a headwind but this time turning off the Highway onto a side road… which is… of course… gravel. Ffs.
It was a hard old slog, the wind was relentless and our legs and bums were starting to hurt, we were tired and grumpy.
Eventually we made it to Springs Junction and find an open cafe. I go in and queue up, see the two pies we want in the cabinet and wait in the queue. Get to the till, oh no the pies I wanted have now gone. To say I was unimpressed was an understatement. End up getting a scone and coffee, and James a coke and sausage roll. As we leave the cafe we bump into an old couple who run a local b&b and were interested in our journey. He told us the climb is next then it’s a beautiful descent. Phew.
He was in fact correct, the hill was next, which wasn’t too bad but the descent was glorious. Felt like it went on for miles and miles. Just what we needed after a horrible headwind this morning.
James had told me today was a 110km day, but my computer was still telling me it was 26km to the finish. As we were at 107, something wasn’t adding up…. turns out James was wrong and had read the book wrong and we still had 15km to go – DOH! If looks could kill, he would be dead.
We were nearly there and spotted a swing bridge, I LOVE swing bridges so we took a small detour across the bridge. Nearly fell off it when I started to cycle again and wobbled it haha!
Eventually made it to Reefton which is probably the most ‘happening’ town we’ve been to in some time. It had TWO supermarkets! We were staying the night at a local pub, so after a good feed we hit the sack.
The adventure continues…