And then I met a whole lot of great people
A longish day but one full of satisfactions, mostly coming not from the cycling. I left pretty early and the YMCA was fairly comfortable in that having a shower in the evening and a wash in the morning makes a hell of a difference to a human being life.
The Mangawhero valley is truly stunning and I’m afraid my pictures do not do it justice. What also prevented me to immortalise more of its stunning beauty was the relative hardness of the ride. What the Google maps calculator rounded up as descent was infact a succession of hills where the fast descents were not long enough to make up for the pain in the eternal ascents.
Someone told me that it is going to be different in the south island. That there the heights are higher but the changes of incline are less frequent. I guess I’ll shortly find out.
I quickly realised that it was imperative to pace myself and to stop for water as often as possible. the first 15 miles were the longer and I went though three quarters of my water in those. It was alright though as I had a long descent to Whanganui and therefore possibility to reload.
After yesterday water problems though, which I have to confirm did not leave me with any side effect, I was prepared today carrying a total of 3 litres of water. I suspect though I will have to up that in some way in the south island as the distances between inhabited places increases.
Before I got to Whanganui I also sawa couple of signs promising an historic site on the right in 400 Metres. I was quite disappointed when I got there and I only found a field with a sign. On top of that the field was inhabited by both sheep and cows. A Pa is a hill fort and apparently this one was fought over more or less 200 years ago. I am still deciding if the excessive signage mixed with the relative abandon of the place is paternalism or respect for the indigenous culture. Perhaps the best thing is to talk about it with some natives.
From the Waitaha Pa I made quick inroad towards Whanganui where I had some food, bought some wine for my couch surfing host and replenished my chemical cabinet in expectation for the sandfly wars in the south.
It took me only another hour to get to David and I have to say, no disrespect to my European couch surfing host, but the hospitality he is offering is quite overwhelming. In the end I spent a lovely evening with Kane (next door neighbour of the couch surfing property), Kristin and P.J. who are over on a year working visa from Germany and we were joined by Rei and Yael (from Israel) who are on their farewell tour heading back home tomorrow after a few months down under.
Unfortunately David was tied up for the evening and I did not get to spend time with him but it was truly good fun to exchange travel stories with the guys in the house, and of course a glass of wine or two also helped in the process.
I will leave in the morning still heading south but reinvigorated by the experience and hopefully with a new set of contacts that might guide me in the discovery of this wonderful country. The hope, as always, is to catch up with these people again, either here or somewhere else in the world.