There are days you really only enjoy a few days later.
I was overdue a windy day and of all days it had to be today. After a nice break at the Neasmith in Wellington it was time to set sail again. From now onwards I will have to become a bit stricter with travel plans and schedules as I have people to see and a sailing course to get to before I leave New Zealand. For this reason I cannot afford many breaks and one day was all I could afford in Wellington.
There were two options for getting from York Bay to Lake Wairarapa, I definitely choose the path less traveled.
What this meant was going around the Wellington East Cape on unsealed tracks and ride the hard section of the Rimutaka Trail.
It all started very well, riding along to eastbourne and then on again to the lighthouse at the cape.
I met a couple of maori fisherman and got reassurances that it was opssible to ride around the cape and up to the lake. They were very jolly and impressed with my endeavours but they displayed that typical overdeveloped can do attitude of most New Zealanders. I must make a mental note to be more diffident of advice I get from overconfident people.
I rode well for an hour or so and the track at this point was good, unsealed but definitely ridable. I also came across a wreck that had been salvaged and is now used as a memorial to all the people that have died in these waters. I am not sure it is the best place to put such a memorial, my impression is that not many people venture around these parts. Soon enough i was going to realise why.
After that things started to get a bit more agitated, yes I guess agitated was the right way to describe them as the culpable was the wind. It was not yet flat in my face but i was making the difficult task of manoeuvring the bicycle on gravel that little bit more difficult.
The path was not as clear either with smaller path going off in different directions. It was time to look at the map. The good thing today was that mobile coverage was very good throughout the day so I could rely on both maps.me and Google and just as well as, if I had not had Google, today, maps.me would have sent me on a wild goose chase on the other side of the lake.
After a good reading of the map I realise I was coming up to the first climb of the day, very steep and unsealed meant that I had to do a small bit pushing the bike, on the other side there was an incredibly steep descent and I thought I was lucky having approached the passage from the side I did, little I knew that pushing the bike in awful terrain was going to become the theme of the day.
Once I got out of the first part of the cost I ended up on a paved road and I was somewhat confused as I thought there was going to be a lot longer on the coast.
That turned out to be the case as this road only lead to a car park that was the beginning or end, depending which way you ride it, of the Rimutaka Trail.
So, here we go. After a small false start detour I got the trail and immediately realised it was not going to be an easy day. The entry gate was designed for letting bike trough while preventing access to motorbikes, this sadly meant that they also prevented access to my panniers which meant that I had to disassemble the bike and then reassemble it on the other side.
The first part of the trail was through a farm and the path can best be described at the edge of the field, but it was good compared to what was to come. When it changed it turned into the rockery you can see below and the problem with that, apart from the wind, was that I had to use all of my concentration to avoid the stones and I missed some of the scenery that was really spectacular.
The wind progressively intensified and, I cannot explain why, regardless of the direction of travel it always appeared to be in my face.
The sea was full of crest and that white line you see in the picture below is water lifted by the wind in a sort of water equivalent of a dust devil.
After the farm came the shingle, 4 km of dry river beds where I had to push the bike and sometime lift it over boulders. And after the shingles came the sand drifts where the bike simply sunk in the sand and pushing it was sucking the life out me.
By this point the wind was also carrying sand and some gusts felt like a sand shower. In a couple of occasions I thought about going back, but the reality was that I was already too far in to go back.
As the sand came to an end and the road become ridable again the wind peaked and it actually blew me off the bike in two occasions. Fortunately they were in no danger zones and the only casualty were my sunglasses that now have a grazing on a lens that makes them totally unusable.
I took the last photograph and then I just put my head down and peddled. Fortunately it was the end of the rough track, one mile after the place wher eI got blown off the bike the road turned to tarmac, which I almost wanted to kiss, and went inland following the contour of Lake Wairarapa to the free campsite on the north shore.
I am now set for the night, it is very windy and, despite the sheltered spot, the tent shakes a bit. I am sure that the 55 miles of pain today will lead me to a good sleep and I am also sure that a few days down the line I will look back at today as one of the cool days. Not just yet though!