It was cold in the tent overnight so I didn’t sleep much. Sure enough when I got up in the morning the weather had changed to the South and it was clear and cold. But more importantly there was no wind to speak of. It was going to be a big day and I was determined to get as close to home in nelson as possible.
|Backroads of New Zealand.|
I was on the bike by 7am. Time saved by not bothering to have breakfast before leaving. I’d already confirmed that the takeaway shop in the village opened at 7am. So my first stop was to stock up on food. There would be no food available along the alpine route and then when I finished that, the town of St Arnaud was 8kms off route. So I didn’t want to stop there unless I had to camp for the night. With this in mind I bought at the Village store, 3packs of sandwiches, a meat pie, drink and a few chocolate bars.
|The Long road Ahead.|
Then it was onto the 4x4 route across the pass. Things didn’t start well with the gradient on the gravel being too steep for my gearing with the bike loaded for touring. The problems compounded by the fact that I had road shoes on. So pushing the bike up the hill was pretty hard mentally. But having ridden this route on the local moutain bike event a couple of times I knew that once you got up the pass the gradient got easier.
I reached the top and the temperature was only 5 degrees C. I ate my meat pie for breakfast quickly ever conscious of getting on. 100kms of gravel I knew would take a bit of time on the touring bike. I was stopped at the 25km mark by a Conservation Officer doing a survey of road users. When he asked me of my destination for the day and I said Nelson, still 150kms away, he just laughed.
I got back on the bike and I just kept it going forward up a long valley with predominately a cross wind. At the 50km mark I had to push my bike up and over another saddle once again punishing my road shoes in the gravel. But at the top I was now optimistic of achieving the first goal of completing the gravel alpine road because now the gradient was downwards and the wind was not hindering me. The temperature had warmed up to 15 degrees C. I was going to have lunch at the 50km mark but I didn’t bother and just pushed on, focused on the bigger goal of getting off the gravel and then starting the 75km sealed stage to Nelson.
|Beech trees & Rushing Blue Waters.|
After 105kms I was out of the gravel and in a good positive mood. I stopped long enough to have one sandwich, some drink and to be attacked by vicious san flies. By 5pm I was starting the 70kms of sealed road home. I was tired but confident that I could do it even if I had to grovel and use my lights for the final kilometres. Two hills separated me from my bed at home. I paced myself and munched on my last two sandwich packs.
I rolled into my driveway at 9pm, just on dusk, without needing my lights after completing 175kms. Fourteen hours on the bike. I felt better and better in the last 40kms probably as a result of eating more regularly. Obviously mentally I was in a pretty good place as well having successfully completed such a hard ride .It was good way to finish the circuit of the South Island.
After Adi had feed me and propped me up on the sofa she said “Well are you cancelling the Around the World ride?”
“No, I said” I’m still ready to have a go at it, but it better not be any harder than the last two weeks. Let’s just have another wee look at those mileages you had planned for me in South America”.
I wake up this morning none the worse for wear but happy to be home after 15 days of pretty full on cycling. I'll have to add up my total mileage for the first two weeks of the year. it should look pretty healthy.
When I can face it, and only after I've mown lawns etc, I'll have to sort my trusty Mercian out.