Sure enough around 5km from the lookout we ran into a steep rise climbing 250m to the lookout, proved a big spot offering a stunning vista up and down the rugged coast.
While fundraising besides so our ride usually resonates with people, everyone across the world sees how outstanding Hospice organisations are and big work they do globally. I’m sure that the smoked salmon sandwiches were delicious and eagerly consumed by us all. Seriously. There were loads of tourists stopping at the lookout and we struck up some conversations which resulted in a donation. Our stop was mostly around ’20 minutes’ given speed of our recovery these months allied with the plague of sand flies driving us nuts.
Shortly afterwards Rene arrived at our unit with a huge plate of quite warm whitebait fritters prepared by Carol.
Crammed with freshly caught whitebait and bound by a fine, light egg emulsion. Really peculiar for us guys, whitebait fritters for afternoon tea… standard fare in this part of NZ. There could be mandatory couple of glasses of wine over some reflection on currently and planning for the day after tomorrow. This evening we usually were having BBQ’d steak burgers with works created out of fresh ingredients we picked up in Franz Joseph this morning. They were seriously tasty whitebait fritters and provided perfect light afternoon nourishment to our tired bodies. Pine Grove Motels are always worth stopping in, particularly for families on a budget, if you’re looking for quite clean modest cabin accommodation when travelling down the West Coast betwixt Franz Joseph and Haast. Shortly after while Virginia was prepaying account for the rooms Carol and David gave her an donation for Hospice until they left… real family spirit. Merely think for a moment. The cabinet food at the café looked good so on leaving we grabbed some generously sized smoked salmon and salad sandwiches to have later for lunch. In reality, we hung a left from the camping grounds and rode 20km over sealed road travelling 20 minutes faster than the day before for our first After stopping for a rest and refuel we headed down a gravel road for the next 20km. At 27km we stopped at a regional Salmon Farm, had a thriving café attached and muffins and coffee were excellent. Remember, we had our wind jackets and arm and leg warmers on as temperature is still pretty cool late on, specifically riding through forests where you’re in shade every now and once more, it was misty with sun merely diving into as we set out at 30am. Essentially, it was pretty flat terrain so even with a few minutes stop to get in the beautiful vista at Bruce Bay we made 20km mark in 54 minutes.
It proved to be a challenging climb, cycle book said final two kilometres were the toughest but not so!
With long goal of riding up it all the way, first two kilometres were pretty dam steep and unrelenting, we kept our heads down and rolled over pedals in lofty gear going nowhere. It was somewhat confusing as Pass virtually levelled out followed by a couple of kilometres of relatively level riding and we thought we must have gone over summit. We stopped there for a brief rest and to snap a few photos, and after refuelling our electrolytes we set out on our final 18km run to our accommodation at Makarora. Not really, all of a sudden we were climbing once more but fortunately it was pretty shorter and of moderate steepness… it was music to ones ears to hear Rene simply up ahead vigorously pumping his air horn announcing the summit end line was close.
Rene checked our bikes while Denise refilled our water bottles with electrolytes. Now look, the rest day this evening in Wanaka could not been more welcome and needed. One more obligation until we could sign off on day. A well-reputed fact that usually was. Did you know that the final few kilometres through Albert Town and round the back of Wanaka to our accommodation were arduous, not tough in gradient terms, merely that we were all spent physically. Besides, we added one more clothing layer and changed our soaking socks prior to getting back on the bikes for the 44km afternoon ride to Hari. She popped by grabbed a couple of photos to go with a press release she had prepared and submitted them to the regional media in the hope they would get in behind the ride… thank you from all of us Jacqui for your support and efforts. That’s right! We mistakenly cycled past our required right turn 5km down the highway and unnecessarily rode up a really long and steep hill prior to realising our error and turning back to link up with our off road trail. Of course regional Member of Parliament for Waitaki, Jacqui Dean, made contact and was eager to assist our cause.
It was a pretty straight forward 20km ride into Haast and we rode past the beautiful Lake Moeraki en route.
Wind although not fierce was definitely freshening so we were pleased with our decision to leave earlier and felt pretty strong as we arrived at the Heartland World Heritage Hotel in Haast for our overnight stay., one more bloody hill, fortunately not as challenging as previous 1 and when we crested summit we understood that our mountain climbing obligations for this day were complete. With that said, we will be particular we grab a picture with management till we leave as they generously donated our accommodation in recognition of our epic ride for Hospice. Our pleasant descent was shorter lived as we ran smack into a second and larger hill… it was tempting to get off bike and walk but we’re hardened riders in our eleventh straight day of riding so we got into our shorter gears and kept riding until we reached the summit a bloody long way up. That’s it we downhill now, flat or even thought riding through to Haast township circa 25km away… no! You should get this seriously. Whenever leaving simply 489 to the complete line, another day down, 11 straight months of riding and 876km clocked up.
Apparently midApril, tonight we did not have any plans so after a pretty late breakfast we headed out to Rippon Wines to catch up with Jo and Nick Mills and thank them for their generous donation of a Jeroboam of Rippon 2005 Pinot Noir, going to be offered in our wine auction at a date TBC. The descent has been incredibly steep in places with a lot of switchbacks and sharp corners and at times the wind was so strong it threatened to topple you from the bike. We kept our hands on brakes under no circumstances letting our speed get above 3035km and it was a relief when we turned right down a gravel road before bottom to link up with Tobin track that writes you down into Arrowtown. Jo treated us to an individual tasting of current all Rippon releases of which we enjoyed them all… my particular favourite was the 2013 Rippon Emma’s Block. While requiring your absolute concentration, riding down from the summit in blustery winds was unnerving.
Back on our bikes we arrived at a junction in the road where we had intended to turn off onto gravel based Sunday Creek Road.
Our ride was not necessarily complete… we turned left towards Lewis Pass for 3km prior to arriving at our accommodation for the night and fairly frankly we were absolutely stuffed, all of us. It was a big ride mostly flat and downhill. I know that the accumulation of four weeks riding and big temperatures were taking their toll, althougheven if lately ride of 83km was the shortest so far. After a shower and settling in we drove to a nearest warm springs to elevate our recovery. Have you heard of something like that before, is that the case? Meanwhile Tony had stopped to chat with a lovely neighboring lady who considered Sunday Creek Road was very gruelling and that we should continue down elementary motorway as traffic was not that heavy and although a couple of kilometres longer it will be quicker… no brainer for us. It’s a well reefton accompanied by 57km to Blackball, our accommodation… Blackball Hilton, most appropriate given it is Virginia’s and my 42nd Wedding Anniversary.
Were making well progress, we set off on the bikes at 25am and stopped for our first rest at the 20km mark at 1040am. We met up with Rene and Denise at top and enjoyed our delicious sandwiches with a baked ginger kiss and rested for ’30minutes’, bush was both magnificent and serene. From 20 through 45 kilometres hills got steeper and as this was our 13th straight day of riding, the lactic build up in our thighs coupled with our sore bums made the hills mentally confronting. Basically, moving down side was always a wonderful reward for tough climb but our joy has probably been tinged with dread that what goes down must go up once more shortly. Maruia Saddle -7km ascent, first kilometre was reasonably steep but ridable and the remaining 6km to the top perhaps circa 15 continuous degrees elevation. Although Virginia broken 60km earlier in tour, tonight we set a modern team downhill speed record of 668km -my larger build gives me an advantage of Virginia and Tony in gathering speed on a downhill run.
Back on bikes but this time wearing our arm warmers to ward off cooler wind. We stopped completely once, at a suspension bridge and apropos heavy last rainfall 18hours river was lofty and mighty. The cycle track runs parallel to the fundamental highway south with the ocean on our right so we could see the wild west nature coast on an inclement day, stretching down coast further than the eye could see. It was peaceful riding without any noise and contact, however there was a continuous slight incline so we slowed to around 14km we, no matter and average were on target for a much needed rather late complete. Besides, the 30km second leg to Kumara took us around the inner harbour and back into teeth of the bustling the teeth northerly wind that was predicted to strengthen to gale force as day wore on. Good news for us given once we rounded the harbour entrance exposed to ocean and bar, we would head first-hand south and have the northerly at our backs. In simply 55 minutes we were at 20km mark where we turned inland to Kumara via a purpose built off road cycle track traversing bush that would make the final 10km of our journey., without any doubts, virginia set a cracking pace and had us averaging 25km per hour.
It had rained heavily once again in night and the skies were murky but thankfully by time we jumped on bikes at 1000am they had lightened appreciably and the temperature risen a couple of degrees. We were riding key highway all the way, was flat heading out of town for 7km in advance of morphing into a 2km steep climb with a 250m elevation. Our fervent hope was that we could at least get to halfway mark at Whataroa for our lunch stop without getting rained on, shouldshould at least mean we entirely had to potentially ride one leg in soaking gear. Having noticed our support vehicle messages Riding from Picton to Bluff to raise for cause then she sent us around road to Bonsai.
We travelled down Tutaki for 6km right onto Mangles Road for a 13km run down to key highway, when we turned left into Tutaki road the sign said 22km to Murchison. Jo ushered us upstairs to taste a fewa couple of back vintages of Rippon Pinot Noirs from their cellar stocks. Still with big energy, extremely fortuitously we were able to sample 2005 Rippon from 750ml bottle and it was in a beautifully developed state. Rene and Denise one last time to replenish drinks and to consume last of out snacks. Apparently the three litre going up for auction may be much more youthful given the larger format, slower development so it always was going to have enormous appeal.
Moving down other side we intersected with the basic highway turning right and relishing a downhill ride of 6km to Kawatiri Junction. Rene and Denise had writeped into a regional café and purchased three beautifully fresh and tasty salad, mayo or chicken wholemeal bread dam, sandwiches and generous in size tasty. Were shortly back on bikes for our remaining 50km to Murchison, there were zillions of bumble bees at junction and we were besieged by them. Just think for a moment. While getting lunch they informed owner and a visitor of our ride for Hospice and they duly handed nearly 20 respectively. We managed to take those sandwiches plus the bacon sandwiches left over from breakfast.
The next journey 30km was on white gravel road and included a circa 7km elevation to a height of 326 metres.
Had not reached first 10km mark when it started raining and with that came a write in temperature, we left in overcast weather with sun trying tough to get into. Basically the bush was magnificent and the track circumvented lake, virtually taking us around base of mountain the base we had spotted from next side of lake and had looked so distant at time. I’m sure that the last 10km was all downhill on sealed road, after cresting hill we enjoyed a prolonged downhill ride and did not stop to drink/fuel until we hit ovedale School. This always was the case. It was totally comfortable by comparison to going over Maungatapu Track saddle yesterday. We met up with Rene and Denise around back of lake back for a swift check on equipment and a refuel then minutes later were on our way once more. Let me tell you something. It was a long slow gradual climb with pretty little relief, we wondered why the guide book had said four six hours which seemed an inordinate interval for 36km.
We could move off the road if required, we rode tightly in single file with rear rider calling out when they heard vehicles coming from behind.
They took our bikes and sent us off for a welcome rather warm shower, once more time our support team had put all gear in our rooms. Rene and Denise have aptly named us ‘Hospice Warriors’. We made big time arriving at our motel at Hari around 30pm. Now please pay attention. Dinner at the nearest pub this evening, I’m sure it going to be good and undoubtedly plentiful as was usually the Southern way.
We covered the 30km to Ikamatua in swift time and were averaging 27km on the largely flat roads with a pretty slight breeze on our backs.
Well wouldn’t you understand it… less than 10km from the stop line we encountered a series of rather steep inclines in the road that of course tested us coming towards end of an enormous day. Although, we turned right onto a secondary sealed highway for a 32km run into Blackball, once there. You see, making around 20km per hour with less suitable road conditions we were still on track to reach our destination circa 45pm. Keep reading! It did with a terrific descent that had me matching Virginias 60km per hour big for tour so far, no walking for us and where it goes up it inevitably comes down. When we made the turn off the road for our last 5k run into to the Blackball to our hotel guess what we encountered… one final hill and pretty steep it was. That was until we passed the Pike River Mine Memorial site so stopped for 15 minutes and walked through it and explore messages all for each of the 29 nations lost in disaster.
We beat it and as we rode up way there was Rene and Denise outside our hotel on the road loudly pumping his air horn and welcoming us to the end line with a group of other hotel guests cheering us on. After paying our respects we were back riding with 17km to go. It’s a good memorial that puts average newest Zealander in touch with the real people and tragedy of disaster the tragedy.
We had planned to start offour ride at 00am but by this stage it was 1030am and we had mostly gone 3km down the road.
We likewise understood that 7km down highway we would begin our climb over the Haast Pass so were keen put that behind us. It’s a well conversely Denise was getting got alive volumes irrespective of repellent she applied to herself. Our lunch plus, for those reasons or stop need to move was confined to usually 20 minutes. A well-famous fact that is. After a brief refuel we rode onto to 50km mark at Pleasant Flat to have sandwiches and sweet treats for lunch that Denise and Rene had picked up in Haast. We were keen to do for lost time and rode pretty tough to get to 35km mark in a hour and a half. By the way, the sand flies were voracious and fortuitously we had our leg and arm warmers on so largely avoided bites.
As we passed the mountain skies opened up and a cool wind aided a a couple ofa few degree write in temperature.
Track got slightly our speed decreased, steeper or legs pumped harder. On top of this, food selection was minimal so we opted for toasted sandwiches, took around ’30minutes’ to prepare yet we were the usually people there. Cowboys Paradise soaking chilly, in and wet need of a warm drink and food. As a result, rene and Denise helped us get our bikes under cover and we zeroed in on a huge quite hot cup of tea.
Loaded up with cool water and electrolytes we bade farewell to Chris who commiserated with us having to climb over saddle of Braeburn saddle track which he described as brutal.
Whenever providing temporary relief from the burning heat, crossing over four concrete water fords at 20km per hour during the descent the cool mountain water was incredibly refreshing and welcome as it splashed up over our legs and lower bodies. All though it was bloody steep and temperature hit a big of 36 degrees as we crossed summit. Now pay attention please. We managed to ride up around 3km 3km, 250m elevation and even in the end it’s loose metal that prevents you from getting traction that was usually our own undoing. Of course, the road was in good condition so we were able to ride down it averaging 27km per hour, the downhill was a fun 8km and pretty steep in places.
We made good time and passed through the first 10km mark in 25 minutes till we encountered a noticeable but none to challenging rise in road.
We arrived in Franz Joseph at 45pm so taking into account breaks we had taken merely three hours 40 minutes to complete journey. As I stop todays blog clock has struck 6pm and we’re heading out for dinner… highly civilised timing for a rethink. Virtually, at 22km we stopped for a refuel and snapped a couple of pictures with Mt Cook in the background, scenery was, no doubt both breath taking and inspiring. Our accommodation at Punga Grove Motel was just perfect and really comfortable and after a swift check in we headed for neighboring rather hot pools for a much needed and beneficial soak. Notice, we passed 2 beautiful lakes on the way and although we continued to steadily climb it was well within our modern searched with success for real physical abilities. Essentially, not rubbish considering the gradual climb and given we are probably riding within ourselves to ensure we make it all way to Bluff.
Tonight we had damaged through thousand kilometre barrier and could sense the end line is close. Thanks to everyone and please spread message as wide and far as you will. At the 25km mark we pulled up outside the legendary Cardrona Hotel and popped inside for tea and coffee in rear garden area. For instance, we were easing our way back into riding after a day off and appreciating a slower pace with more regular stops. Doublecheck if you leave a few comments about it below. We have a second day off there where we hope to drum up neighboring support for our fundraising cause. Now look. From the time we left Wanaka we were often insensibly climbing. Crown Range summit 14km away. I’m sure it sounds familiar.|write?|Sounds familiar, am I correct?|doesn’t it? it gonna be three straight weeks of riding to get us to the complete line in Bluff. Remember, wanaka precedes our ride over Crown Range and down into Queenstown. With a 776m difference in gradient it was usually going to be testing, wanaka was always 300m above sea level and the Crown Range summit is at 1076m. In addition, newstalk ZB at 1115am in the latter days with Leighton Smith if you may tune into 1080am.
Rene and Denise had been shopping earlier in day and prepared a delicious steak, corn on the cob and fresh salad dinner back at our motel.
It was raining sideways outside and the temperature had writeped further, definitely it was not going to enhance whenever necessary so we donned special gear and set off for a 36km ride to Hokitika in atrocious conditions. Thus, for a couple ofa couple of kilometres we could hardly get above ‘seven 10km’ per hour and the rain was coming in sideways stinging like hail as it hit our faces. It was spectacular sitting on our deck savoring dinner accompanied by Mt Edward Pinot Noir with a spectacular vista down valley beneath a stunning setting sun. And therefore the initial track was downhill via a big number of switchbacks until we hit entrance gate to the property and onto a gravel road taking us straight into a head wind that was near the gale force at times and virtually stopped us in our tracks. Good by, tremendous effort and day now we see we will do this big challenge!
We spotted a Weka along the trail, always was largely surrounded by wetlands. We rode down the fundamental street, hung a right onto highway and over the bridge spanning quite swollen Hokitika River. So regional café served up delicious toasted sandwiches undoubtedly created out of quality ingredients and a pot of tea helped warm our cool, wet bodies. We made good time to Ross given we had left late and though not as severe as yesterday, weather conditions were variable and fairly cool at times. Mahinapua track… a quite old tramline track that wends its way through a couple ofa few kilometres of bush, usually was fun to ride, extremely serene and also good for one’s soul. Consequently, we exited right onto a sealed road then down to the key highway turning right once more and heading back 2km towards Hokitika to link up with pretty old rail line that morphs into a 11km rail trail of off road riding.
Over hill it was all downhill to usual motorway where we turned right for a 18km run into Hokitika on sealed road. After a nice dinner and a couple of Pinots we climbed into bed around 1000pm and slept like logs. Arriving at our accommodation was a relief as was a hour long massage Virginia had arranged with a regional therapist. Ok, and now one of the most crucial parts. It was 90percent flat including lots of downhills and as wind was more to our side we made quicker progress. Anyhow, while preserving our strength, rain kept coming and the wind kept gusting, our leg warmers, thermal or wind vests gloves had added that extra protection that kept our body temperatures up.
Riding out of Nelson has been largely on designated cycle tracks so it was no surprise to see dozens of cyclists out riding to and from Nelson.
Thanks once again to all the people making those big donations, more than 50000 in ticket sales for Prime Minister hosted dinner so we’re north of cash to cause. You should make this seriously. When our meals arrived at the table servings were tremendous, afterwards we shot into town for dinner at River Café and pretty fast let owner Jude see about the ride and our cause. Jude is usually a neighboring and did give Virginia and Denise some valuable information about tomorrows ride to Spring Junction, helps very in our preparations and realising where best to stop for breaks. West Bank road and followed river for 14km on largely flat gravel surface then re crossed river and joined up with the highway for a 2km ride into Springs Junction.
This evening the 90km ride to Tapawera is more forgiving so pretty well planning Virginia and Tony we say. They do all planning and they do what I’m best at… getting word out there and making all the fundraising approaches plus write everyday blog. As usual Rene and Denise had checked us in and put all our luggage in room and as quickly as we pulled up they grabbed our bikes and left us to get on with freshening up. 6km out of our destination we came upon a decidedly long and steepish hill, it and mostly blessing was sealed road. That’s right! Heading down other side we reached speeds of 60km in advance of flattening out for a comfortable 3km complete to Tapawera. It was awesome to have a comfortable 76km day and arrive at our accommodation at the civilised time of 15pm. Nevertheless, this evening we’re headed for the regional pub for a feed but not before a glass of Pinot Noir.
We then ordered a selection of cheese and meat platters and Jo kindly treated us to a 2011 bottle Rippon Mature Vine Pinot Noir.
We were travelling down highway six as there were no off road options and the traffic was constant though largely considerate. We whiled away a hour in sun outside cellar door taking in the stunning vista over the vineyards, across Lake Wanaka to the impressive array of mountains surrounding it… merely beautiful way to unwind. From around 5km out of Makarora Lake Wanaka appeared on our right side and we followed it south for circa 30km before the road cut left over the hill picking up the top of Lake Hawea. Later that night we got locally before lights out around 00am to rest in preparation for our ride to Queenstown today.
Rain was hosing down so our rain coats supplied by Avanti Plus were a welcome addition to our riding wardrobe.
Immediately after turning right onto the fundamental highway we hit our first hill. I am sure that the ride to Greymouth was on tar seal and mainly flat but with a couple of pretty decent climbs. By the time we reached the top we were well warmed up so it was a blessing in disguise. Furthermore, it had rained all the way, the temperature had writeped and a strengthening northerly all combined to make conditions a little tougher. You should make it into account. Riding down through town to regular way was all downhill, a good way to ease ourselves into the day. Oh oh!
The first 6km was down state highway six and the traffic was heavy, and in parts shoulders non existent so traffic came uncomfortably close at times.
It was 33 degrees and heat was fiercely rising off the road so we were drinking electrolytes and water by the gallon. Anyways, while dipping corner while doing around 70km, virginia on a sliding. Rene and Denise had run dry of water in the support vehicle but had managed to catch up with a neighboring named Chris who graciously opened his house for them to replenish in time for our arrival. It gave her a decent fright and she definitely quickened pace to Gowan Valley Road where we turned left off highway and headed 11km inland on sealed backroad bringing us to the ‘T junction’ linking us to the Braeburn track.
Now with our ever increasing fitness levels our recovery was so way quicker so we were almost ready to leave Fox in 30 minutes for our afternoon leg to Pine Grove, in first few months lunch stops were around a hour. Rene and Denise caught up with us at 25km mark and refilled our electrolytes for final 11km ride to Pine Grove. Unless roads were impassable we had to kick on, we told him what we were up to and that we had no choice to keep to program. Although taxing dense bush provided us with temporary shelter from cool/howling winds. We deliberately rode first 20km tough covering it in 54 minutes, big speed considering 80percent of the time we rode into a reasonable Southerly head wind. He was impressed and can have even thought for a moment these JAFFA’s probably were tough buggers after all. Eventually we turned more to the west and began a long fairly steep climb through the bush. At crest of hill the crest we came across a nearest farmer driving a quad bike with a roof and he was dressed in full suite of wet weather gear.
Over the top, two down one to go, and although hill three had related elevation to hill 2 the incline was slightly more dramatic in places.
It had been a pretty confronting ride completed in simply under two hours, phenomenal riding by Hospice Warriors that utterly impressed regional mountain guides we met at our lunch stop. We all enjoyed a long soak, hopefully will ease a lot of muscle soreness from six consecutive weeks of riding. We ground it out making the summit without stopping where Rene and Denise were waiting to provide a fast refuel unto we relished a 5km speedy descent into Fox to feel good about a light lunch at Hobnail café. Besides, the site of a bath was heaven sent to Virginia who had brought a few bags of Epsom salts to soak our weary bodies after a tough weeks ride… trouble was always this was first bath of our journey so far. We arrived at Theatre Royal Hotel and checked in preparatory to getting back on our bikes to pedal 500 metres down the road to our two bedroom, luxury or two bathroom cottage after our tiny bedrooms and substantial facilities at Blackball Hotel.
We enjoyed a much at, needed and carbohydrate fuelled lunch Taste Gibbston Valley located in basic street.
It’s dead simple to lose time and focus in Arrowtown but we still had 27km to ride to Queenstown and our gutsy Crown ascent Range had definitely emptied our reserves. Millbrook Resort and down famous Christine’s Hill. We rode track through to and over Shotover Bridge then took Queenstown via Frankton route, required one more fairly sizable climb.
this far down the West Coast it’s an enduring parade of Mother Nature at her finest, scenery was gorgeous all way. Arriving at our Pine Grove accommodation merely before 3pm was pretty fortuitous timing, Southerly head wind gains in strength as the afternoon wears on. Fact, rene and Denise had prepared for our arrival as usual and we headed straight for a warm shower. Nonetheless, by time we reached our cabin accommodation at Makarora we were buggered and just imagine not have wanted to have gone one yard further. It was a faster and energy free 4kms of our remaining 18km ride. For example, given the mornings three peaks they were merely lumps in highway, there was the customary collection of hills that usually seem to arise during the last few kilometres of your ride. We headed straight to our accommodation for a quite warm shower and scrub in advance of commencing our much needed RR to get us in shape for 75km ride into Wanaka the day after tomorrow where our first day off beckons after 13 straight months of riding. Riding down the side of Haast Pass was spectacular and well deserved for our ride up other side. At summit we had crossed from West Coast into Otago and strangely you could pretty fast sense rearrangements in flora and the key landscape… there were obviously less sand flies. Generally, we were all feeling pretty whacked so appreciated the mainly level ride through Pass, a stunning valley coursed by Haast River and surrounded by mountains on one and the other sides.