He is known, from time to time, for biting more than he can chew.
This was a good morning, the sun was shining and the enthusiasm was, well, whatever the enthusiasm does. I washed and started packing when the camper next to me woke up. Out came a nice woman who started talking to me. She asked me where I had ridden from and where I was going and then she resolved that I must be crazy. I could not but agree, but I reassured her by saying that I’m taking all the appropriate medications. I also mentioned that I thought their choice of traveling was far superior and, had I not been crazy, I’d probably would have chosen that.
In all honesty she was quite impressed with my endeavour, and indeed she said she had the greatest admiration for all the cycle-tourists like me she sees on the road, and believe me, there are an awful lot of them in the south island.
I realised this morning, while packing the tent, that I have not really told you much about my camping. It is on the whole good and, while I might have a bit exaggerated my camping experience in conversation, in facts, prior to this trip, I might have slept in a tent only a handful of times, I find the whole thing rather enjoyable. For a start, probably for the first time in my life, it makes me feel organised. Secondly it appeals to the Scot in me, it’s dead cheap. Finally it is it’s own safety net, while at the moment I am choosing to go in camps, either DOC sites or commercial ones, I know that if it got to that, I could always just find a quiet corner and set up camp there.
All packed and ready to roll by 8:40 and I was off. The road today was going to be long, this I knew, and hard, this I underestimated. I left Nelson going south and in a bit less than an hour I was coming to the end of the line of small town lining the coast.
I knew that if I wanted to have some breakfast it was now or, god knows when, so I took the plunge and for the first time in New Zealand I entered the forbidden temple of everything that is not good for you, MacDonalds.
The sausage and egg mcmuffin was great and with the combo came a potato thing and a tea. I was not too worried as I was quite sure I’d be burning all these calories by mid morning.
Why was I sure? The map tells the story, today there was no let down after breakfast. The road was going to rise and rise and then come down but in the up and down north island style of short sharp hills. I knew I was going to be exausted at the end of it.
This however did not deter me from taking some shots of the lovely areas I was going through. I am not sure this is still Marlborough, if so, the pictures I took of the vineyards are probably of the most famous wine growing region of New Zealand.
I am not a wine expert and I’ve been caught on the wrong side of an argument a time or two in Italy for not being a total supporter of Italian wine, but I do not think Italian, French or Australian wine have anything on New Zealand wines.
The vineyard picture was the last one I took before the hills got serious, after that I was heading for the first change of gear and a new and yet strangely familiar sign appeared in front of me.
But you know it’s really bad when you start seeing the “overtaking lane in x metres” signs.
The first hill had a very very long steep bit to get to it, and the summit was followed by a rather short but quite steep descent. Somehow it did not feel like it had been worth the effort of getting to the top.
The descent, as I said, was steep and short and then there was a good 5 miles of what I call false-flat, looks like flat but if you stop pedalling the bike stops in no time.
When I got to Kohatu I realised that the bar at the corner was open and being nearly half way I decided to make a stop and got myself an ice cold beer which was served in an ice cold glass. I really like the style of these people.
After not long I was on the road again and again soon enough faced with another wall of death. This one was shorter but it felt like the north face of the Eiger, perhaps as I had the other one in the legs already.
Again I made it to the top, even if made it is a bit of an overstatement.
I elected to go up to the look out point and took some pictures but what also happened was that a bus of Chinese stopped and out came a bunch of them armed with super sexy camera. They did not speak a word of english apart from hallo and bye bye but they started taking pictures of me and then posing in them with me. I’m bracing for instant fme among the 1 billion + Chinese population.
Down the ill was good but short, then, as soon as it got to river level it was a succession of ups and down. The legs were pretty second hand by this point so, even if the overall profile of the ride was downhill it was a bit of a struggle to get to the camp.
The camp itself was what could best be described as basic. I guess at 9 NZD what you get is just a piece of land and a hot shower. Nevertheless the shower was welcomed and as the company for the evening was midges, bees and a couple of germans in a car not too far, I elected to turn in by 20:00 and, after I finish this, I’ll be off to sleep.