Friday, April 20, 2018

Pie Ride Stats

Pie Count: 35
Caramel Slices: 20
km ridden: 3809.4

Best Pies:
Lignite Cafe
Murchison Tea House
Food for Thought
Waitiki Visitor Centre

Best Caramel Slices:
Real Meat Pies
Eruption Cafe
Sweet Cakes

Best Sausage Roll:
Inangahua

Best Looking Campsite:
Slab Hut outside of Reefton

Best Sunset:
Lake Ianthe

Pie Ride: North Island Diary Entries

Sorry that this has taken almost a year to type up. I was recently talking to people about my trip and realized that I hadn't typed up the North Island events.

9-10/04/2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 1

It was a well earned rest period. I worked on the bike, my body, and did an interview of sorts. We hosted Constantine for an evening and managed to see the Batman movie as well.

11/04/2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 2
Flats: 1

Woke up early, but as I was home it was hard to leave. I ate, packed, loaded the bike, and headed out around 8:30. I took the Hutt River Trail to Upper Hutt and joined up with the Rimutaka Trail. There was a short section damaged with the recent flooding. I had to push my bike across that section. The trail wasn't very technical, but was very scenic. I would like to see what the coasat has to offer. You had a decent climb, but not as bad as the road as there are numerous tunnels you go through. Happy to have my light attached! There was a dicey section where they advise you to walk your bike. I originally scoffed at the idea. Glad I reconsidered as that was nuts. Maybe on my MTB, but fully loaded rigid bike no thanks. You then had to manage a stream with a very uneven riverbed. Then it was all downhill! I got to a junction and flatted. I was 2km from the road.

Oh well, it was bound to happen at some point. I fixed my flat and hit the road. It was a quick 10km to Featherston where I had a Salty Dog drink and a good burger at Everest. The burger would have been better if the bottom of the bun wasn't soggy. The town seemed to be happening. Lots of cars and people. Well then I rode off to Martinborough. This is where I originally planned on staying but swapped for Carterton based on price. I ran into 2 cyclists (1 from Australia and the other France). We chatted for a bit and I may see them tomorrow as we both plan on route 52 for the bulk of the day. From there I rode to Carteron via Stonehedge Aotearoa, they would have been closing as I rolled in so I snapped photos of Alpacas and called it a day. I got to Carterton and set up the tent. Had Turkish for dinner and read about the hot air balloon festival happening in town this week.

Tomorrow I'm riding to Ashhurst via Route 52 with a stop in Masterton. Beth booked a room as its supposed to be pissing out tomorrow starting at 3pm. Matter of fact it just started here. Wrapping up the journal, brush teeth, and scamper to the tent.

12/04/2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 0

Woke up before 6 to be on the road as soon as possible to try to beat the rain in Ashhurst. I ran into a cycle commuter this morning and chatted a bit. This made me miss the recommended bakery. Oh well! I grabbed a pie in Masterton, which was decent. Not enough filling to fill the pie. Then grabbed a cookie and slice at 10 o'clock cookie break. Slice was good. Would eat again. I then found my way to Route 52 for back road fun. Lots of farms and some logging. Then stopped in Pahiatua for lunch at Wooden Spoon Cafe and to warm up from some of the rain that had fallen. The gorge was scary to ride. There was no shoulder and fast traffic. I'm glad there was construction to limit the vehicles behind me. With my arrival to Ashhurt the rain started. Glad my 130km is over with minimal cold rain. Tomorrow is a different story. Heading down Manawatu Scenic Route to Mangaweka 95km and 20 more to Taihape. Of course the weather could go to custard and I may have to re-evaluate. My pen has died.

13/04/2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourist: 0

The weather is supposed to take a turn for the worse so I left Ashhurst early to make it to Taihape before it really hits. I had a quick breakfast of oats and tea. Then it was time to ride the Manawatu Scenic Drive. This comprised of 95km of very little phone coverage and no place to restock. I thought I read something about Apiti, but as I turned down the road I got a text from Beth saying no cafe until Mangaweka. So I turned back around.

The ride was pretty brutal as it was steep climbs followed by steep descents with maybe a gentle gradient climb in between. Repeat this for the duration of the ride. I recall saying seriously as the road turned the bend to reveal a steep gradient and a long climb. Well at least it didn't rain that much until I hit Mangaweka. I proceeded to smash a ginger beer, 3 glasses of water, a hot chocolate, a creamy mushroom soup with 2 pieces of toast, and a lamb burger. This is because I ate only 2 GUs, a handful of mangos, and a handful of trail mix for the entire ride. I managed to converse a couple swallows of my last water bottle before hitting town. With it being poor weather and a holiday weekend, I bought snacks for my bags and a couple other items for breakfast and dinner.

The stretch from Mangaweka to Taihape is crazy. Up the big hill there is a passing lane, but most people just buzzed me on the narrow shoulder. I yelled a few times 'Are you serious? There is a passing lane.' The 20km seemed longer because of this and the rain. Is there any other route I could have taken? I want to minimize my time on SH1. Beth booked me at Rusty Nail Backpackers. Go figure its on a big hill. At least I get a descent when I leave.

I'm in an 8 person dorm with 1 other guy who I've not met yet. I walked into town to get some groceries. It was about a 10 minute walk along side SH1. I stopped by Brown Sugar Cafe and there was a peanut butter slice. The storm finally started hitting around 4. Then there was a Hope Walk for suicide going on around town. Tomorrow I think I'm heading to Ohakune, but the Timber Trail is probably going to be crap with all the rain we've been getting. So I may flag that and just go around the West side of the Lake. Beth and I may do a walk if timing is an issue. Jake won't be in until Wed and can't get the bike until Thursday.

14-04-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

I rode from Taihape to Ohakune via the OTT Trail, it says grade 4 but onlyt because its remote. I saw 16 cars, an atv, and 1 horse rider all day on the back roads. It was a fair amount of climbing, all day up and down with a lot of up. Oh yes one of the hostel guys made me self-conscious as he said 'you got some pretty big legs on you, don't you?' My quads definitely seem to be perma-pumped on the trip. I had a dad's pie at Ohakune after the ride as I was hungry. It was an Angus Beef Chili and Cheese. Surprisingly very good. My last dad's pie was just ok. Beth booked us a room at the quiet end of town. Which really meant more climbing. We had a nice meal at Osteria and she managed to retrieve my jacket I left at the Rusty Nail backpackers earlier. Managed to sit in a hot tub for a good spell and relax the muscles.

15-04-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0
Flats: 1

Short ride from Ohakune to National Park. Luckily as I had a flat, my pump broke, and early morning rain which lasted into early afternoon. Beth and I had a couple meals then she went to National Park, but we also went to Ruapehu and did a waterfall track and my phone's camera lens got condensation in it. I rode the Old Coach Road up to Horopito. The track is a combination of grass, mud, gravel, single track, and cobblestones. Lots of fun, but had to watch out for the people going downhill. I ended up getting very muddy and wet as the rain started up again. I caught up to a another drop bar brother on the track. It was the same guy who earlier been riding down Ruapehu. He was on a cross bike and was from Kapiti Coast. Chatted with him for a bit and spun throuth Horopito junk yard before he headed back to Ohakune and me to National Park. This hostel also had a hot tub. I made use of it right away as I was soaked from the ride. Beth and I cooked dinner and then went to bed. Both of us exhausted from the previous day, me riding and her driving.

16-04-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Beth went to do a track while I was riding. I googled bike directions from National Park to Tihoi to Kinloch to Taupo, it was 140km. I had 30km between National Park to Tihoi on back roads. Little did I know that last 13km was going to be on private land. I did call the numbers provided to get access, but no answer on Easter Sunday. So I hopped the fence as I thought it was going to be a few km until the next road. Nope, 13km of private roads. I ran into a group walking and got asked where I was going and that I was on private land. I apologized several times, and explained the situation. Finally, I got back onto the highway. I started up to Tihoi and Beth came up behind me. We went to a lookout and talked about our morning adventures. She then went up to Tihoi Tavern where we planned to eat a late lunch. After a short amount time, Beth came back and told me the tavern is for sale and closed. So I had her go to Kinloch for the next meet up. Shortly befor Orakau Track the skies opened and I managed to get my rain gear on shortly after all ready getting a bit wet. I texted Beth saying the weather turned shit. It was super windy, thundering, down pouring, and what felt like hail. I made it to the shelter at the track start and I couldn't stop shivering.

Beth came to pick me up. I ended up riding to Otake Road as Jake and I will ride from Taupo to there on our journey north. We are parting ways tomorrow with Beth going home to Wellington and I to Sam's place for a couple nights. So I'll not be tour riding in the next couple days but mtb might be happening.

17-04-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

It was Easter Monday so Beth dropped me off at my mate Sam's place, where I'll be for the next few nights. I'm waiting for my brother to arrive and rest up. Well not really rest as we went mtb riding yesterday; Graeme, Sam, and I. We ran into JB on the tracks. So it was pretty funny when he pulled up next to me. No expecting to see me on the tracks. Nice ride even though it was wet and muddy. Tomorrow I plan on getting a massage and getting my bike cleaned up a bit. Clothes are already clean so maybe a blog post as well. Night.

18-04-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Got a massage and caught up with Dee. Played with the kids and wandered around town. Tomorrow Jake arrives.

19-04-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Jake has arrived. Another rest day. Just caught up with MTB crew. Played and raced the kids. We worked on cart wheels, planks, and flexibility. We also spent a long time with legos.

20-04-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 2
Flats: 1
Wrecked tires: 1

Woke up early at Sam's. Played with kids and packed up. Went to Top Gear to get Jake's bike. Talked to Mark a bit. Jake struggled with panniers on the rack. We messed with it for a good while then just switched panniers to the bikes. So we're partially carrying each others gear. We go on the road about noon. We cycled out to Kinloch and around the old neighborhood. Then down to the beach for a brief moment to call the US. Then back on to Whangamata Stream Track then out to Mangakino to a campsite next to the lake. On the way, I ended up slicing my tire open. Ugh. Luke was just talking about carrying an extra tire because of damage. Ended up on the side of the road outside of Whakamaru with some duct tape. Little paranoid as we are going on the Waikato River Trail tomorrow and won't be around towns for a bit. Beth called Pack and Pedal. Nigel had a 700x42 cross king in stock. Graeme said he could bring it out to me in Mangakino. Deserves a medal, or at least some extra $, when we pay him for the tire and tube. So I'll be installing a new tire/tube in the morning. The campsite is nice with a good view across the lake. Another camper warned us about locking our bikes as someone tried to steal theirs off their camper the previous night. So ours are locked up and bags removed.

Its a bit chilly with the breeze coming off the lake though. Tomorrow will be a challenge on the waikato river trail to around June's Landing or Arapuni. The caramel slice from Eruption Cafe was pretty good. Chocolate fudge topping, a brownie bottom, and a weak caramel filling. It was the only lacking bit. Jake rode well but the initial climb was a bit of a struggle.

21-04-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 0
Broken Chain: 1
BCS Calls: 1

Woke up to a brisk morning on Lake Maraetai. Tore down camp after fitting new tire and tube from the legend Graeme, the previous night's delivery service. Then into town for a bit of breakfast. Then we rode to Waipapa Dam, as I missed the turn to Maraetai Dam, on the road. We then proceeded to ride an interesting track of stairs, steep climbs, loose descents, and flowing track while looking at bush and lake/river. Was definitely a hike a bike. Doing it loaded was a mission. I flatted again at lunch time. Just a pinch flat as its hard to manually pump up to good inflation levels, but we were also off road so a little give is nice. We had some pb on tortillas for lunch. We then proceeded up a big hill, 250m climb or so. I ended up breaking  a chain link. Glad I have a few master links. Fixed it and got a hold of Beth. She booked us at Arapuni Backpackers. Well notified them that we may come. Good thing to as the campsite I found was on the otherside of the river South of town. Didn't appear that way on the map originally. It would have been 19km more to get there. Tomorrow the plan is to finish Waikato River Trail after breakfast at Rhubarb Cafe in town then onto Matamata, drop bags at holiday park then up to Wairere Falls. Then decide on Hobbiton the following day before heading up to Te Aroha.

22-04-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 1

We woke in our dorm and assembled our gear. We had planned on hitting the Arapuni Swing Bridge before breakfast at Rhubarb Cafe. Had a tasty Eggs Bennie, melting moment, citrius bar, and half of a caramel oaty slice. It was like oat crumble on top of a slice. Very tasty! Had an interesting conversation with the cook. He asked which direction we came from. I said South. He asked if we saw an American yesterday. I replied 'yeah, two. Us!' He replied 'That was better than expected. He must have taken my advice. He was on a road bike with those skinny tires.' I chuckled and said that wouldn't have made it. We spent a portion of yesterday pushing our bikes. After breakfast, it was time to get to Matamata. We had a bit of a hill after the Waikato River Trail that is where we saw the other tourist, who barely waved. The section on SH29 had a wide shoulder but the side road had little. We ended up on the side road to avoid traffic but it still found us. We got into town and had turkish, where some dude was giving the girls a hard time. I only want meat and BBQ sauce. I want the salad on the side now. Any way wankers. We then went to the holiday park and set up the tent and came back into town to schedule a Hobbiton trip. They were all booked for today. So we booked for tomorrow morning. Instead we wandered town and got a reservation for Osteria this evening. We went back to campsite and jumped in the hot pools. We ended up talking to a woman from Samoa. Said it was being developed by the Chinese and that their PM was being controlled by them. We then cycled back into town for dinner and back at night. I got to test out Beth's new lights. Very bright! Tomorrow is another night here with Hobbiton and Wairere Falls on the agenda. Monday night is Te Aroha at a holidy park for $33.

23-04-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 1
Tourist Count: 0

Another pseudo rest day. I woke up a bit before sunrise, but not Jake. We could have a late start as the Hobbiton tour didn't leave until 9:30. We ate in town and I had a good slice. The layers were proportionate and flavors worked well. The tour was different then the last time. Not so much detail of the history of the town or how things were constructed and how the property is now maintained. We were given ample time to take photos though. I want to compare thsi tour to my previous via the pictures I have. Afterwards, we cycled back to the holiday park and then out to Wairere Falls. We did both lookouts and a bit of the track along the top. Bit different from last time, no smokers on top only 4 runners who couldn't stop laughing. Tomorrow is another short ride, but looking at the Te Aroha summit track for 6 hour return. So it will be a long day. Then back to a good cycle after leaving the Te Aroha Holiday Park. We are doing Te Aroha to Paeroa and Paeroa to Waikino and back before doing Paeroa to Matatoki to stay with Kat and Garth. We'll have a decide if we are staying in Thames with Jason or at a holiday park futher up the coast. Even if we want the Thur 15:00 ferry, we should be able to cycle the 50+ km in the morning.

24-04-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

We left Matamata fairly early in order to get to Te Aroha to do the summit without light issues. We arrived at the holiday park just before 10. We set up the tent and ditched the bags then over to town. Had a really good pie at Kevin's bakery then proceeded up to the summit. The last time I was there was before Lake Waikaremoana with the troop. The track up was pretty and it was slick. The views up top were good. We took a couple breaks on the way up, but we were sweaty and thirsty. Only one was huffing and puffing. We have booked tickets for the ferry on Thursday. So we need to be to Coromandel a little before then. We are going out to eat with Maria tonight and staying with Jason in Thames or up the coast. We'll decide that tonight as well. As far as Auckland is concerned it may be a combination of places. Once Jake leaves it will be time to kick the tires and light the fires on this ride. It should be a quick trip up Northland and back down to either Auckland or Wellington. No real plans after Cape Reinga other then O-Rock at the end of May. We are talking about a trip back to the States in June. If that is the case, I need to get on getting my bike powder coated. Then assembled.

25-04-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 0
Flat count: 1 each

We went from Te Aroha to Matatoki via the Hauraki Rail Trail with a trip out to Waikino to see the battery and gorge. I got a flat just outside of the return trip to Paeroa. Jake flatted outside of Matatoki. We talked to a guy, Karl, from Te Aroha, who has done the TA in 2016 and plans on 2018. He is shooting for 10 days as last time was 13.5 with a couple day mechanical. We stayed with Kat and Garth, where we had a big meal and we chatted about the Pie Ride and their adventures. They are off to Germany with Duffy and Shane for Challenge Roth and an ultra. Then next year is a swim race in Vermont.

26-04-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 1

Garth loaned us his ute, so we drove around the East Side of the Coromandel. We stopped in Tiarua in the morning. I had a pie and a slice. Meh. Then up to Cathederal Cove. Prety cool. It was my first time there. Then over to Whitianga. Then back to Matatoki for our long ride to Thames. We stayed with Jason. We talked about his lack of riding, hunting, and future plans. Looking at Old Ghost Road, 42nd Traverse, and other rides. We saw a lady on a folding bike loaded up at dusk heading South out of Thames. Where to? I don't know.

27-04-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 2

We rode up the coast from Thames to Coromandel Town. We had a 3pm ferry. We saw a crashed ute on one of the sharp banks. We passed Die Hard Stream. I had a lamb curry pie from Food for Thought (an old council stomping ground) on the recommendation of Garth. Super good. There were several slips still being cleaned up, so it made it easier to cycle up the coast as we only had wavers of cars sporadically passing us. We ran into a bike packer on the top of the 1st hill out of Thames. He had an interesting setup to say the least. 2 dry sacks draped over the stem, a seat bag that went super high on his back, and bull horn bars. It was the bike's maiden voyage. He was already talking about changes. Go figure. He couldn't stand up on climbs and had to ride with hands next to stem for his brakes. No room for lights on the bar. Looked like a city bike without the touring gear.

We rode into Coromandel just before 2 and ordered some pizza. We had to dash as I found out the ferry was 10km back down the road. We made it with 15 minutes to spare. There was a French touring guy on it as well. The ferry was pretty smooth, but some annoying kids. We then rode to the hotel in Auckland CBD. It was pretty flash. We wandered CBD and ate some food from a street vendor and Acho's up in an arcade that drops out to Myers Park.

28-04-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

We rode to the ferry and to Banu's place. We then bussed back into CBD to go sailing with Peter.

29/30-04-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Played tour guide. Rode to Devonport and Takapuna. Then walked to Milford Park.

01-05-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 0

Did the Coast to Coast walk and Rachel's Birthday dinner. No riding!

02-05-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Jake left today. I fixed all my punctured tubes. Did some laundry. Wandered the North Shore. BCS is contracting me to do some training tomorrow. Then back on the road Thursday. I've started my route planning from here to Pararoa. Pararoa to Renewa. Renewa to 90 Mile Beach Holiday Park. These will be bigger days and then riding back to Wellington. Have to decide my route back.

03-05-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Contracted back to BCS to give the new BI dev something I never got, a conversation with the predessesor as to where things are and how things are done. Waste of time really as they could have looked at the documentation and asked questions to Koos and Jimmy where most files are. Things not covered like cubes aren't really being used.

04-05-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 0

Left Banu's a little later as I wanted the rain to clear up. I picked Paparoa as my ending point a few days ago. However, I started to feel like shit lsat night. I rode out on Albany Highway to Dairy Flat and then over to SH16 before joining SH1 in Wellsford. I know 130km would be long but I felt drained. Hard up hills, my head throbbed, and I was constantly blowing out snot. Ugh. The hills and snot were unrelenting today. The fever and chills came as well. I was looking for a place to crash before Paparoa, but they looked sketchy. So I resolved myself to a long, painful day in the saddle. I asked if there was a cabin, but I was out of luck. So I camped last night. It was warm out, but my fever/chills really caused me grief. Wrapped in my bag then off then back on. Sleep lasted until almost 8am. Food at Paparoa Hotel was ok. Supposed to be Southern American. It wasn't.

05-05-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Rode 6km and it hurt. The little hill made my head hurt. My snot hasn't stopped. It is a short day as I need rest. I ate at the Cafe in Matakohe before heading to the holiday park. I scored a sweet cabin for $50 and promptly passed out until 14:00. I read a bit, but should have struggled up the hill earlier as the cafes were closed by 16:00. So I'm having couscous, peas, and tuna tonight. Then back to bed. I aslo suspected I had a slow leak in my rear tire. Suspicions confirmed. Small whole only leaked under a lot of pressure. Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel better and can do some riding. Bad weather is on the horizon for next week. 3rd cyclone of the season. So if I feel good Dargaville or beyond. Otherwise, may stick around or limp to the next town some 15km away. Being sick sucks.

06-05-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Still very sick. No riding. No energy. Fever/Chills/Body aches.

Nice ladies at holiday park gave me veggie soup, bread, eggs, and a 'witches brew', lemon & honey. Spent the day sleeping and reading. The room smells awful. Like sickness. Have windows open to air it out. Going to ride to Dargaville tomorrow. More options for food and more throat meds.

07-05-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Felt like crap. Better than yesterday, but body didn't want to move like I wanted it to. Spent a good portion of the morning at Kauri Museum. It was pretty big. Lots of massive wood chunks and machines to harvest and cut the mighty trees.

The road to Dargaville had no shoulder per se and the white line was a rumble  strip. So I took the lane. I passed Tokatoka that looked like a cool place to visit. In Dargaville I got some meds and saw 'Going In Style' which is a fn little heist movie. Planning for tomorrow Waipoua Visitor Centre & Campground. Have to get more water as there is none there. Then up to Rawene for the ferry.

08-05-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Good sleep last night. Woke up before 7. Started to get all my gear sorted. Then off to find an open cafe. No such luck. Bought some groceries and back to hostel. Whipped up PB & toast, yogurt, apple, and OJ. I used the hostel's bike pump to get my tires back up to 80 psi. Front was 60 and rear was 50. It made a huge difference today in how it handled and speed. Riding lower definitely feels better but the speed was welcomed. The road out of Dargaville was pretty foggy so I didn't leave right away. As I only planned a few hour ride I could afford to wait around. There were a couple long climbs and a flowly descent into Waipoua Forest that I took easy. The campsite is right by the river, but the cafe at the visitor centre is closed. The sole worker had to go to Auckland. Should be back this afternoon. I need some change for the campsite fee.

Glad I brought plenty of provisions. I'll have to do lunch, dinner, and breakfast for sure. Should be a quite night as the place looks empty with only a single camper in the parking lot so far. Looking at the visitor centre most of the short walks are closed. I can only imagine the slips they must have gotten with all the rain. Tomorrow its back out to the road, it was gravel back to campsite, and up a big hill to see Tane Mahuta, about 10 kms away. Then riding to Rawene to either hunker down for the night or to catch the ferry across so it will be easier to ride to Ahipara/90 Mile Beach holiday park the following day. I'm almost 2/3 the way complete of the adventure. Then its all downhill back home to Lower Hutt.

09-05-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Woke up early this morning to leave Waipoua Forest in order to make it all the way to Ahipara with daylight. Ran into a British couple last night that commented on my campsite. I was right off the river. We got to talking about which direction I was heading. I replied North. The lady warned me of the bad road ahead of me. No shoulder, long hills. I said I've ridden from Bluff so I know about NZ roads. He commented that it shouldn't be a problem if you've done that. Anyway I was on the road just after 7. It was a long hill, but not steep so manageable. I stopped off to see the Four Sisters and Tane Mahuta before pulling over at a scenic outlook. Low and behold who shows up? That's right the British couple. They guessed I started at 6 in order to ride the hill and see the kauri (I was told it was pronounced like cody). Nope just after 7. They wished me a safe ride. I then ate in Waimamaku where I ordered an eggs bennie, hot chocolate, tea, and carrot cake. The woman asked where I was riding to. I said I want to make Rawene before noon and then onto Ahipara. She responded 'What the...shit that's far.' Had a good chuckle about that response. I then was able to turn over the legs and sustain over 30 kph. There was plenty of vert today and it was warm. Went through 4 bottles and several refill stops. Jersey was crusty with salt tonight.

Pulled into Ahipara Holiday Park just after 15:00. Set up tent and started communicating with Beth about tomorrow's plan. Low tide around 14:30, so riding around 10:30. Up the beach to Cape Reinga then back tracking down SH1 to backpackers. Looking at doing Eastern Side of the N. Island to Auckland. Then up in the air on what way home. West Coast, East Coast, or even the train. Options.

10-05-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0
Replaced Brake Pads: 1

Woke up like normal, around 6am, and had some pb on a tortilla. The fellow camper came over and talked to me. He was a 70 yr old dairy farmer from Ruawei, who plans on section walking the TA over the next 10 years. He did the section over 90 Mile Beach over 7 days and his pack weighed 16kg, 9kg being food and water. He said I should have no problem with high tide and stick to the car tracks.

Nope, I started about 20 minutes over high tide. It was brutal hike a bike through occasional surge of surf. Chubby is going to need a thorough clean when this is over. The decision was to wait closer to low tide to move on as I've only gone a few kms in over an hour. I could ride a couple hundred meters at a time. I'll probably never ride the beach again going North. It was a strong wind out of the NE all day with a slight rain but for 5 minutes.

I saw a few cars, buses, a single ATV, and a group of Asians looking for a lake today. I pulled up my map and there was a lake to the NE of where they parked but they were heading to the West to the Ocean. This happened while I was hike a biking up the stream. I made the decision to flag the final stop at Cape Reinga this evening. The rear brake was making a noise that indicated brake pad needed to be replaced. I wanted some real food. Trail mix, mango slices, and oat & fruit biscuits didn't cut it today. I also had only about 500ml of water left. So I went to Waitiki for accommodation and food at the take away. I had wedges, steak & egg burger, 2 sausages, donuts, 2 scoops of ice cream, and a ginger beer. I then took a shower prior to starting bike maintenance. I poured fresh water over the bike to get rid of the sand and replaced the rear brake pad. The cassette and chain rings are showing a lot of wear. The chain as well isn't looking too flash. So tomorrow I'm doing the 20ish km to Cape Reinga then come back here to pick up my gear and ride South until I get reception and find a place to stay after about 100km. So 90 Mile Beach is monotonous and very exposed stretch. It could workout if the wind and tide are favorable. Fighting tide and wind all day isn't fun.

11-05-2017
Pie Count: 2
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0
Flats: 1

Woke up just after 6 and got my stinky kit together. Actually it was the first time wearing the jersey and rain jacket. The bibs have a couple long days of use. The socks even more. The wet shoes stank a lot. The gloves a bit. I think I permeate a cloud of funk right now. Well not now as I've done all my laundry. The shoes can't be helped other then trying to dry them out with the heater tonight. The ride to Cape Reinga was a hilly one. I'm glad I didn't attempt with only my front brake with the return to Waitiki being after dark. My legs feel fried today and I kept cursing the hills as they were unrelenting this morning. Must have been clost to 800m of climb in 40km. Got back to Waitiki and gorged on 2 very good chicken & vege pies. They are up there for best pie of the trip for sure. The backpackers not so much. I think I impressed them with my appetite as I got 2 pies, 2 peach teas, a ginger beer, and a cadbury caramel chocolate bar. Everything other than the cadbury was consumed quickly. I typically keep a bar in my food bag as a reward for climbing hills, 2 squares at a time. I chatted to the ladies for a bit to get some feel for the road south of where I was. A couple hills and a gentle incline. Wasn't that bad other than the wind. Once again a day of driving wind to make it difficult. I finally got reception and a flurry of texts. I was looking to crash at Pukenui but things were full or closed, but Beth managed to book a cabin at Wagner Holiday Park. I just had to ride another 30km to get there.

Along the way, I got flat #7 and changed it on the side of the road. Then got into Pukenui and demolished a "big" pizza. The shop girl said we have boxes to put any you don't finish in as they are 30cm pizzas. I left there still feeling hungry. The trail hunger is real. Instead I cycled out to the Holiday Park another 6km and took a shower and did laundry. Now route planning for tomorrow. Either Manganui or Kerikeri but it depends on this rain. One is 60+ km the other 120+ km. I've run out of land to the North so I'm turning around and coming back on the East Side of the North Island to Auckland.

12-05-2017
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 0
Flats: 1

Woke up from the crazy rain last night to a clear morning. The weather wasn't supposed to be flash so opted for a shorter day. Beth booked me at Kahoe Farmstay. I helped an older couple from Palmy to load their chest freezer of snapper into their car. They gave me a couple frozen bags to compensate me. I then also helped them with a stuck knob and hoisting the motor off their boat. Glad I look strong I guess. I then rolled out from the Holiday Park heading South into the wind. This would be a grind most of the day. I stopped at a butcher/dairy and got a few things and ate 2 cans of chicken on tortillas for breakfast on top of the fruit I ate earlier. I kept riding and avoiding the buses, live stock trucks, tourists, and animals. I ate again at Awanui in a cool Kauri shop/cafe. The pie sucked. The slice wasn't good. The cheese stick was greasy and nasty. I instantly felt ill consuming a fraction of it. I ended up being a vomit machine for several intervals. I also flatted between vomit sessions. I stopped by Doubtless Bay on the recommendation of the farmstay. Great view up there even with the not great weather. Rolled into Kahoe Farmstay and had a good conversation with Lyndsey. Asked if I needed/wanted to workout. Asked if a I play football (yes soccer) as Stefano is playing tomorrow in Whangarei. I had to explain that I used to play, but no more. Even more torture they have a small field in front of the house. They host a New Year's Eve tournament for a long ass time as well. Once again she remarked that I must have played rugby. Nope. Cycling, soccer, martial arts, etc. Found out their garage is decked out for working out as their daughter (who is living abroad) is a PT. Stefano is a football nut and continues to play even driving a good distance for a 7's game.

13-05-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0
Flats: 1

Stefano made a big brekkie for me. It was super tasty. Rosemary in the sauted mushrooms. As I was gearing up, Stefano said that he is short a center defender for today's game. I asked if he kenw which position I played? No, just that I used to play. I said center defender. I was tempted to go play for the first time in a long time, almost 7.5 years. But I said I appreciate being able to walk and do other things with low risk of injury. Had a short ride to Kerikeri, where I flatted again. I need a bigger pump! Got to Kerikeri before noon. Had a quick shower, ate some Japanese and Mexican. Talked to Skog for a bit. Then tried to find a bike store. Oh its not really at 70 Kerikeri Road. Its on that block, but behind Repco and accessed from a side street. Wasn't open. So ended up at the Falls, a historic site, and trying to find out about the Circus Tents.

I'd never stay at this hostel again. The first room in the place is the smoking lounge. Yuck. My room wasn't attached to the main facility which gets locked at 21:00. Place was pretty dirtbagish. I probably smell like them, but would rather tent it.

14-05-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 1
Flats: 2
Broken Spoke: 1
Side Wall Damage: 1

Woke up early and planned to hit farmers market at 8:30 and get on the road. Nope. I had a flat right away. Looks like the patch rolled back upon inflation and just leaked slowly. So off the wheel comes, what is this? A broken spoke as well! Great way to spend your morning. I put my last good (non-patched) tube in and tape the spoke to the next spoke. Head to farmers market, a guy from Chicago (Wingless Angel BBQ) selling BBQ. Had the pulled pork with slaw, decent, but mine is better. Cornbread with butter, very tasty, and a beef cheek, egg breakfast sandwich. This thing was awesome. Also had a savoury crepe with ham, cheese, and spinach from another stall. Lots of produce but no real way to carry it. Looked at bike store, but not open.

So I limped out of town. Man do I hate SH1! Procession of cars, no shoulders, the white line is on an angle. I felt my rear tire roll down one of these embankments. Then the tire got squishy. Yup another flat. Also damage to the sidewall. Put a boot patch and electrical tape in tire and a large patch on tire as the tube had several abrasion holes. Back on the road, but looking for a way off of SH1. Stopped in Kawakawa to use the fancy art bathroom and tried to find a bike pump. More convinced that fixit stations need to be in every town with a trail to get people back into the thick of it.

Listened to Google Maps, a bit after turning off into Kauri up Vinegar Hill and ended back on SH1. Added a few extra km to my ride today but oh well! Going to stop first thing in the morning: tire, brake pads, pump, patch kit, socks, and spoke replacement installed. Depending on when that wraps up heading to Mangawhai Heads or to Wellsford for Monday Evening. Putting me in Auckland with friends on Tuesday. Hostel in CBD on Wed and then train home on Thursday. Its been an adventure.

15-05-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 0

Had a mission in Whangarei of hitting the bike store: replace tire, replace spoke, get patch kit, & tire levers. Rolled into the Avanti store right at open and was sorted out quick. This gave me time to ride to Wellsford instead of just Mangawhai Heads. SH1 was not fun. The large shoulder would disappear and the bridges were narrow. I had to be cautious when crossing them as I didn't want to be pancaked. Once I turned off to Waipu the traffic died down. The hills appeared and I was treated to some cool views and a few good looking beaches. I ran into a grandpa pushing his grandchild in a pram while I was eating a slice snack. He asked where I was headed and that he understands my pain with cars as he rides a mtb in Auckland. Told him sections are bad, but the backroads are typically fine. Got to Wellsford after about 20 minutes of rain. The dinner at the restaurant was crazy. 3 massive pieces of pork belly. The hotel was good with a cool stone pebble floor shower. Tomorrow will be at Mike's and then a hostel by the train.

16-05-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Woke up early to go grab a bite to eat and some biltong, as I found a really good South African place in Wellsford. They even courier. I had a really good lamb samosa but wanted a pie. They had none though. So an omlete it was. The ride out of Wellsford on SH16 was hilly and windy, but less traffic than SH1 and more kms. I stopped for a while at Omeru Scenic Reserve and walked around for a bit and had a snack of biltong. I stopped on Kaukapakapa for lunch. There was a KKK burger on the menu. Say what? A bogan, dad/son, combo commented on the epic chops. Hey those are pretty unique? Something you don't see everyday. Hey how are the dickheads on the road? You partied all across the country? You cycle how far each day? How long did it take you?

Dropped my stuff off at Mike's and headed into Whangaparoa for a massage. Worked the neck and shoulders well and the lower back ok. Totally spent himself and didn't do much to the legs. Another massage will be had back in Wellington. Tomorrow is a short ride across Auckland to CBD.

17-05-2017
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Woke up to pissing rain. Since I didn't need to be anywhere I waited until it was done raining then I left after noon. I mainly took East Coast Road back into town. Man that is hilly and I don't recall that from my previous rides on it. Must be the extra weight I'm carrying that makes it difficult. Got to the ferry point and had to wait 30 minutes for it to appear. Then I had to flag it down as I was at North Cote Point and not Birkenhead. Went next to the hostel. Not very nice, lift was broken and I was on the top floor, but it was close to the train station. I went and had some ramen and later yakitori. Got my gear sorted for tomorrow's train ride. I'll be home for the first time in a while. My clothes smell funky, chubby needs work, and my gear needs to be thoroughly cleaned. When and where will be the next adventure?


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

More Photos

My adventure didn't start here, but it did go through it.

Sorry for the lack of updating. Its been a hectic couple of weeks. I've been riding with my brother and neglecting my journal. We have managed to get to Auckland and get him safely on a flight back home. I've managed to put in a few hours of work as well. Now time to get back on the road and reach Cape Reinga and return to Wellington before the end of the month.

It has been brought to my attention that I've not posted photos lately. I've been busy posting some to Instagram, but here are links to the unedited albums.

North Island Fun
South Island Part 2

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pie Ride: Rest of the South Island

30-03-17
*Rest Day*
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 2 (technically I saw them last night, but after journal was done as they rolled in well past sunset)

Plans for today:
Breakfast: I ate at Big Fig. It was very good. I had a Gozleme, a little flat bread with spiced lamb, pine nuts, and spinach
Massage: 1 hour of body work to loosen my tight muscles
Bike Store: brighter red flasher
Laundry: wash and dry my stinky clothes
Grocery: Get some supplies for the next few days
Exercise: Walk around the lake front - didn't happen
Blog: posted blog post and images
Bike Maintenance: cleaned drive train and inspected bolts and tires

It was good to rest, but the body wanted to ride!

31-03-17
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 4

Left Wanaka early knowing I had a big day out. 140km and a big hill. The early kms ticked by as my legs felt great. While heading around Lake Hawea a headwind came out. This made it a little difficult on some of the climbs. Being mainly tourist drivers I was given a wide berth by most. I had a shouting conversation with the 1st cycle tourist I saw over the road for 10 minutes. He had been riding for 19 days for the 1st time in 15 years. He was also wearing a huge tramping bag. Lake Wanaka was nice from the other end and I pulled into Makarora to determine if I was going to continue riding or stopping for the day. As it was not yet noon, I determined to press on. I ate lunch, talked to an American Tour group, and their bus driver. He warned me about the Haast Pass descent and the hill between Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers. He also recommended I tell other riders not to dress like ninjas and to get a mirror. The change from Otago to West Coast couldn't be more striking. Went from a grassland to a land of lush dense green vegetation. Haast Pass wasn't that bad and the summit was a car park for a lookout, some 30 minutes away. The initial descent was fine and I passed 2 German cycle tourists coming up. The later descent is terrifying. Super steep and brakes got a good workout. I could smell them as I fluttered the pressure. I ran into another cycle tourist, Adam, on the road to Haast. I rode beside him for a bit. We chatted about riding and living in New Zealand. He has been here for 4 weeks and has ridden most of the South Island. He only has a 6 month tourist visa so he is making the most of it. I then dropped him and put it back in the big ring. Time to hammer the last 30km to Haast. Strange little town with no mobile coverage. So I didn't know exactly where Beth booked me. SO I went into the 1st backpackers I saw and asked if they had a booking for me. My assumption was correct. I bought some data and could communicate via email and instant messenger with Beth about tomorrow's plan. Which is Fox Glacier, 120km away. There is about 900m of climb over the day, but it doesn't look that bad. The weather is supposed to turn later in the day so an early start is warranted.

1-4-17
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 2
Hitch Hikers: 2

Haast is a lazy town, but it has some cool things going for it. Lots of tracks and its on the edge of Aspiring National Park. The ride was a wet one. There was headwinds most of the day. Some mist. Some showers. All overcast. Ran into some Americans at Knight Point. I guessed Texas by accent, but from Alabama. The woman in the group called me fit as I'm cycling. I said or 'Insane'. The day was blotted with misty mountains and the occasional view of the coast. There were lots of tourists driving around and one wanker didn't yield when I was on the one lane bridge. After that I pulled into a cafe (60km) for lunch as my oatmeal has been burned off by then. They specialized in hot smoked salmon. It was very tasty. As I was leaving, there were 2 cyclists coming in. As it was pouring, I wanted to keep moving to get warm and they probably wanted some shelter and food. The road proceeded to gently climb for the remainder of the day I think. I stopped off at Lake Parangia and saw 7 Land Cruisers filled with camera happy Asians. Who then ran about taking photos. I don't know how they all fit in there. I ended up doing over 120km today and Beth booked a hostel for me as it is still raining. I'm going to look at the weather for tomorrow and may leave later if it helps. Otherwise, I was trying for Ross (130km) to start the West Coast Wilderness Trail.

-------------------
I don't know the guy, but I'm aware of him (Mike Hall). He was killed during a cycle race across Australia yesterday. Just made me think about close calls with vehicles here. Man vs Car, the car wins. I've been tentative around logging trucks but today I ended up riding off the shoulder a few times to give more room. Or just pulled over all together. My feeds were filled with the news and I couldn't help but thinking of him all day. He was instrumental in endurance cycling and can be see in 'Inspired to Ride'.

2-4-17
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 8
Hitch Hikers: 2

The hostel was funny as there are dirt bags who hitch hike and won't contribute to fuel, but asked me about skydiving and bungee jumping. The gall of some people. The eggs benedict @hobnail was especially good. The caramel slice was lacking a good slice/crust bit. The ride out of Fox was ugly. There was 3 climbs, that I was working hard to get to the top. Then I was scared on the descents as the roads were wet, curvy, and there was sun glare off the roads. It took 1:30 to reach the first sign for Franz Joseph then 1:40 to reach the town. The bus driver, from the day before, said it takes him an hour. I ran into 2 cyclists from Holland and he happened to break his brake pad on the last descent. He probably can't get a replacement until Greymouth. Which means, he'll have to be careful on Mt. Hercules, which was just brutal after my previous couple days. My legs can hammer the flats, but for the climbs my legs just feel dead. I passed through Wharatoa which seemed interesting, but Hari Hari had a cool tile showcase and a unique craft store. I'm camping at Lake Ianthe with the sand flies. The sunset was amazing. Tomorrow its onto Ross and then part of the West Coast Wilderness Trail before finally ending up in Greymouth then onto Barrytown, to make a knife. The campsite has 2 other cyclists and a couple camper vans at it. More cyclists showed up at twilight. It is time to stretch and get ready for sleep. Tomorrow I should get up early and head out as bad weather is on the horizon (3 days away).
Dad's Pie from 4 Square was ok.

3-4-17
Pie Count: 2
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 2
Hitch Hikers: 0

Packed up early from Lake Ianthe and started me way to Ross. Few little hills to wake the legs up a long with some mist to start the morning. Got into Ross and searched for food. Had a pastie and a peppercorn steak pie. Meh. Not enough filling and the crust was hard. Stopped by Roddy Cafe and Museum afterwards for a 2nd pie, steak and cheese. Didn't taste any cheese and the filling reminded me of spag. sauce. Not a winner. Wondered the museum for a few. It was mainly Harley Davidson stuff. Then onto the West Coast Wilderness Trail. Just have to look out for the orange signs. From Ross to Hokitika, it was a combination of paved and gravel roads with some trails and a boardwalk. Not all that enjoyable. Grabbed a photo on the beach with the Hokitika sign then got fluids at New World, where I ran into 2 Brits heading out on the trail. Never saw them again. The trail from Hokitika to Kumara (where I'm staying in the Undertakers backpackers, it was the residence of the town's undertakers) was more gravel than paved roads with some trail. It was a warm affair. The sun was out and you were pretty exposed. This was more fun as there was some flow to the track and would be fun at speed on an unloaded bike. I'm sure the mtb riders, I saw thoguht I was nuts rolling past Cowboy Paradise loaded up as they were eating and drinking. I got bad news that the knife making in Barrytown wasn't going to happen, but there is another place in Wakefield that we are contacting for a Friday Session. If all goes to plan, I will be in Wellington by Sunday. Just seems like I just started riding down here, I guess it will be over 2 weeks of riding with a couple days off. Tomorrow I head to Reefton. No longer going to Westport as the knife making isn't going to happen.

4-4-17
Pie Count: 2
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0

Left Kumara after some oats and a good sleep. A German mom and daughter showed up late, but I ended up chatting for a bit in the morning over breakfast. The trail to Greymouth wasn't all that fun. Just wandering through industrial parts and the wind was awful. It was a crosswind coming from the East, which would later become a headwind once I turned toward Reefton. The beach looked drab as well. Greymouth had a decent pie even though the girl didn't recommend the Nacho Pie, when I ordered it. Stop in to Do Duck in Bakery. The Nacho Pie reminded me of the mad mex pie from One Tree Bakery in Mt Maunganui. I wandered around town for a bit then left, but not before I bought some new brake pads, as I knew it would be a struggle today. High winds out of the East, no shoulder, and lots of trucks. I slagged through it. I did manage to stop at a few places, an old mill site, a rest area with a train engine, and the most amazing campsite, Slab Hut. It had a wood fire oven and 2 wood BBQ. Right next to a stream which you can gold panning at. Beth stalked me when I diverted to the campsite to go to the bathroom. I was already booked at the Old Bakery Hostel. This place is ran by a busy fellow who also likes to chat. He was running around all day as he's a reporter. He recommended the bar down the street for food. I got a good feed for $52: soup, garlic bread, T-bone steak with fries & salad, a ginger beer, and a cream freeze sundae. I got a few weird looks as I was ordering. After that I came back and swapped out the front brake pad. It was worn down and glazed pretty bad. Tomorrow I'm off to Murchison then Glenhope then Nelson. Hopefully the rain will come late. Just going to eat in the morning and get back on the road.

5-4-17
Pie Count: 2
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 0

The stay at the Old Bakery Hostel was good. Only 1 other guest and she was being sponsored by the Council as her Council flat needed fixing. I had a 3 person room to myself and free wi-fi for $25. So I ended up watching/listening to youtube most of the night instead of my mp3 player. The fire kept the building surprisingly warm all night even with the backdoor open all night. I rode into the main street and had a pie for breakfast. It was ok. Then it was on to the 85km ride to Murchison. The road started with a little hill then a long downhill section. No so many trucks out this morning. It was just a bit cool so leggings were on and after not too long so were the sleeves. The scenery was a blend of hills and farming. I stopped for a long time in Inangahua at the General Store and Cafe. I had a slice which was ok and a tea. I got to talking to the owners about pies and pie ride and they said that there is a place in Havelock known for their mussel pies. So I've got to find it. They then said theirs are World Famous as well. I had to admit that their sausage roll threw me for a cinnamon roll when I first walked in. So I went back up to the counter for another tea, a steak and cheese pie, and a sausage roll. The pie was very good. The filling was flavorful and the pasty held up and was still flaky. I would have liked the pasty to have been cooked a little more as it was a little doughy. However, the sausage roll shaped like a cinnamon roll, and not like a log, with BBQ sauce is a winner. I'm not typically a fan as its ration of meat to pastry is off in my opinion. This felt right. I could have eaten a dozen. The owner said that truckers will call ahead to have them save rolls in the back for them as they sell out. After leaving there I passed Lyell cemetery, which over looks the gorge. Very nice final place. Then Chubby had to tease me by posing with the Old Ghost Road trail sign. I would have loved to ridden it right now, Greta and Thomas from Taupo are riding it tomorrow, but better suited for a lighter loaded and a different bike. The ride through the gorge was pretty bad. Lots of trucks and no shoulders. Almost had an incident with a truck on a descent. He had given me room, but then an oncoming van made him reclaim the lane. I hit the brakes at 60kph and put it in the grass shoulder. I was a bit shaken but had to continue to Murchinson. This is the type of ride that ages you. The gorge being beautiful but probably ride when fewer cars are expected. The turn off to Murchison picked up more traffic and I spent a lot of time pulled over to let people pass. Then there was construction so long queues. The Lazy Cow is a quaint little hostel on the edge of town had a homey feel. I made use of the jacuzzi tub to massage my weary muscles. The dorm has 2 Germans and 2 yanks. Ben is from Oregon and finished the TA recently having taken over 4 months. The pizzas there are pretty good. I would recommend them. Tomorrow is a shortish day to Glenhope about 40km. I have to bring all my food as there is nothing out there but it is a mecca for bike packers. Then its 80+ km to Nelson. The weather held out today, but was a little chilly.

6-4-17
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 0
Hitch Hikers: 1

Talked to 2 guys this morning. Both live in Texas, but one was born and raised in Blenheim. They are scouting out spots for their scout troops. So they asked for track recommendations. I said Great Walks for beginners and then start looking at Hollyford or Copeland for more experienced groups. Then the Dusty (doubtful sounds area) for advanced. We then talked BBQ for a long time. So Bri got accepted to Grad School. The American guy, Ben, mentioned he got in as well. So I was giving him the pros/cons of MN.
I ate at the local Tea House in Murchison and the pie was awesome. Big chunks of meat, flaky yet portable crust. It ticked all the boxes. The stack of blueberry pancakes were pretty awesome as well. It fueled my short distance, but lengthy ride. I ended up pulling over for traffic a lot and I stopped at all look outs to see what was there. The Hu Ha Farmstay is pretty cool. Big open floor with a couple rooms with various bunk configurations. There is a friendly dog and wandering chickens. It being a farm, there are other animals, but they are fenced in. At the moment, I'm the only person booked in. Tomorrow I got 84+ km ride to Nelson then on to Picton. Lets hope the weather and traffic cooperate.

Chatting with Martin as he is doing the TA2018 and asked about my setup. I typed up an email about the bike. I'll be able to give a better review at the end of the next month as I'll have done a lot of the course in reverse. So far the bike is handling everything I've thrown at it without a problem. If I were to do the TA I would opt for a frame bag and maybe a seat post bag to centralize the weight and minimize the width bulk. Doing this would also limit the amount of stuff you could carry. So you can't just bring it just because. The bike setup is not that good for single track as its too wide.

7-4-17
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourist: 0

Woke up on a cool farm stay, where I ended up the only person there. I listened to several of their records the night before and stretched in front of the fire. I heard them adding a log to the fire this morning at roughly 6am. This let me get going early on the chilly morning. It was probably 9 degrees in the shade and probably 5 more degrees in the sun. My legs felt great right out the gate. It was a combination of short distances and then stretching and massage. The first test was a 200+ meter climb to Hope Saddle. I seemed to fly up it and then I was able to hammer at a much more road pace then my previous days. The kms just flew by, but I slowed down as the area started to smell like autumn. The road became the Great Taste Trail right before a big hill and I got to rip gravel again and go through the 5th longest tunnel. You need to have a light as its 1300+ m long. After that the trail bounces back and forth across the road and even disappears all together. I think I would opt to ride the road if I did this again. I stopped in Wakefield for a pie and a slice. The pie was stuffed, but it fell apart after the first bite. The slice was bad. No blend of flavors, just a thick slice. I talked to Jake for a while about his trip in a couple weeks. He is going to have the bike sent to Taupo for pick-up rather than trying to bus with it. We are still talking about some logistics, but I'll be back in Wellington this weekend and we'll hammer them out. Nelson has some cool cycle ways around town, but just picking one I ended up having to Google directions as signage wasn't always thaty great. I'm sure if I rode them more, they would make sense. That being said, there are a ton of bikers here. Anything from commuters, roadies, mtb, kids, recumbent, and just errand runners. I ate at Catalina's Cantina and it was tasty. I would definitely go there again. Tomorrow's plan is to ride to Havelock and then decide whether or not I'm going to push on through to Picton that afternoon. The ride should be just over 110km with about 1300m of elevation. Today I sat in a 'hot' tub and massaged my legs for a good while. Hopefully tomorrow they will feel like they did today!

8-4-17
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 4
Hitch Hikers: 2

Woke up early in Nelson and was rewarded with re-breaking my toe. I originally did this dodging a Banu hug before Northern Circuit. I did it this morning by kicking the kitchen bench while making breakfast. Ouch. I felt sorry for an English girl this morning. There was some sleazy dude, who called himself 'monsieur chocolat' or Mister Chocolate and put on a British accent. He even told her it was fake and that it was a bit rude to do so. He asked for her name so he could Google here. When he finally left, I said that was a bit creepy. I then talked to a Belgian kid who is traveling around named Witze. He'll soon be following my adventures via Strava. He is a triathlete and is contemplating cycle touring here for a bit. After my 8 slices of toast I hit the road just after 7 am. The first few kms felt really good then the big climb sprung up. I just kept spinning and spinning. If I stood up my toe throbbed. Body was sweating hard and my clothes were soaked by the time I got to the top. Now they were damp and cold and the descent was awful. I had to switch to a wool top and ride glove-less. The views were of mainly pine trees but also of logging and construction. I stopped off in Rai Valley for a quick bite to eat and then continued up the climbs. Having pulled into Havelock, I looked for the mussel pie, but didn't find it so I opted for a burger. The waiter was from Indiana and asked about the Surly. I made the decision to push on to Picton as it was roughly noon. The ferry was scheduled to leave at 6:45. Plenty of time to hit the Queen Charlotte Scenic Route. The 2nd time hitting the road was so much better. No car sickness. Of course, I wasn't being whipped around turns by Lance (from the dive trip). I hit a lot of look out points to snap pics. At one, I talked to an older lady, who happened to live on Whites Line East before getting married. Her son still lives in the area though. Then 2 French cyclists popped up. They were heading to Havelock so I gave them some info. Oh that reminds me I met 5 people from Colorado doing the TA Northbound. I talked to them for a bit and they wanted to know more about the trucker as they want to give cycle touring a go next. I received a message from Constantine about 'saving' a bed for me at a hostel in Picton, but broke the news that I would be sleeping at home tonight. I've offered our couch to him tomorrow night though. While waiting for the ferry I had a chin wag with the workers loading the rail freight. On the ferry, a girl, Holly, and her mom, Laurie, asked to sit across from me. We talked the entire ride about life and travel. They are/were from Michigan. Holly having just worked in Melbourne. I recommended a few things to do and gave me contact details in case they had questions. I've got a 15km ride home. Where a shower, shave, Beth, and a bed await. The next couple of days are filled with tuning up the bike, job interview, eating, repacking, laundry, and resting up the body. The next leg will be solo up to Taupo where Beth might take me gear and travel with me over Easter weekend. Then it will be 2 weeks with my brother, Jake.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Photos are coming

I'm adding photos that aren't on Instagram to the link in the upper right, but to whet your whistle:
NZ South Island Pie Ride Part 1 I've got more images than can go into an album and I've got to modify the backup folders as I've gotten duplicates with items that have been posted to Instagram.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pie Ride Week 1 Recap


Pie Ride 2017! Recap
15-03-17
Riding from Bluff to Cape Reinga. How hard can it be? Its only roughly 3,000 km across 2 islands that are nothing alike. There will be paved & gravel roads as well as off road trails that will transport me across plains, mountains, National Parks, beaches, and a couple ferry rides just for good measure.
Excitement is definitely creeping into my last few days of work. People seem shocked that I don't have a job lined up and that I'll be setting out next week to cycle the country. It has been funny to tell people and watch their reactions when I tell them I'll be cycling the length of NZ when they ask me what I'll be doing next. You have to do these things when you have the means either physical, mental, or financial. As you never know when the opportunity will come again. Who knows maybe I'll start organizing, ok Beth would organize, and leading back road tours around this amazing country filled with quite back roads and stunning views.

23-03-17
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 4

The flight from Auckland to Invercargill was fine even though I had to rearrange my bags and bike box. Too much weight in one. Should have been a sign. I've been thinking of naming the disc trucker "Chubby Side Action." She has a wide backside and takes a lot to get up the hills. Nothing close to any of my other bikes. Putting the bike together was straight forward, as I only removed seat post, pedals, handlebars, and front wheel. Getting the bags weighted and set up too longer. I ended up riding around town getting supplies: food, gas, money, and used a pump from local bike shop. Then set out on a harrowing 30km filled with poor visibility, cold rain, and a ton of logging trucks that didn't want to give you any space. I got to Bluff a little shaken. I think that this was the worst section of road I've ever ridden.

I cruised down to the campground. It looked fairly meh. Wide open space on a slant and a not any tents on site. I continued past to Sterling Point and talked to 2 kids from the US on a working holiday visa. I then found a backpackers for the same cost as camping. So I had a roof over my head instead of nylon. Met some interesting fellows: 1 from Germany, who just completed the Te Araroa, and 2 guys from Canada, but 1 is a dual citizen. The other being Kiwi. They are doing a farewell circuit as he is moving to Brisbane to work and be close to his boy.

This morning I was up around 6 and expected some sun to pop up around 7. Nope, it was 8. So I packed the bike and headed back to Sterling Point. I then stopped for pancakes before leaving town. Highway 1 wasn't bad and only about 10 trucks passed me. Then I turned off and the GPS told me to take some gravel roads that ended with fences. All in all I think I rode 30km of gravel today. Thankfully my tires have a little squish to them. Good old Chubby Side Action! The road meanders through several farms and the animals typically answered my calls. (As Beth can attest to, I talk to all sorts of animals) There were definitely some cool locations like Lignite Pit Cafe. They had a walking garden that looked cool, but it would take hours and cost money. So I opted for their Steak, Onion, and Guiness Pie. Which was very tasty and a particularly flaky crust. However the cow puff pastry put it over the top. The roasted potatoes were very good as well.

Slope Point is lots of gravel and some climbing. The backpackers is nice and the dorm slept 4, but is located off the kitchen and lounge. I may ride some of the day with an 18 year old German kid, Constantine, tomorrow. I have passed him twice already. Slope Point is scenic and today was very cold as there was a windchill. However, sitting at the table the sun is now out in earnest, something I've not seen in days. Tomorrow's plan is to head toward Balclutha, but may pull up short to do some exploring in the Catlins if we see some accessible trails.

FYI: if you stay at the backpackers, which is changing its type of accommodation in April, don't pet the cat unless you like getting swatted once you stop. The cat thinks it owns you afterwards. You've been warned.

24-03-17
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourist: 0

Constantine and I left Slope Point around 8:30 after a pretty good sleep. The French guy in the dorm was fascinated with the TV Series Arrow and watched it into the night. He left well after us as he was just getting up when we hit the gravel. We worked our way back up the gravel hill to be passed by a tourist bus. We then went to Curio Baywhere we caught our first glimpse of the sun. It wouldn't make an appearance again until the cycle day was basically over. We stopped at Niagra Cafe and had a warm drink to take the chill off but the sweat got cold. The blueberry muffin was awesome though. The frosting was just like Toaster Strudles. We continued on the windy scenic road and were treated with some steep climbs and blind corner descents. The highlight of the day would have to be seeing 2 ladies at 4 Square, a supermarket chain, who said they passed us 3 times today and they kept wondering how we were keeping ahead of them. Simple we didn't go to every lookout point. The SPOT Tracker is fun because Beth keeps texting when I stop or if there is a big hill we are working on. Tomorrow I'm heading to Lawrence in order to break up the travel to Middlemarch. I've reached out to 2 Warmshowers hosts. One for tomorrow and one for 4 days from now at the end of the Otago Rail Trail. How does Sofiane travel so light? I know I could dump the computer, cook set, possibly a layer or 2. Then there is the tent and sleeping gear. Maybe travel in warmer times of year. Autumn in New Zealand is chilly. Wind all day and maybe cracking 12 degrees by 4pm. Then it drops right off at dusk. Will be interesting camping tonight.

25-03-17
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourist: 0

We left the camp ground fairly early and made our way to Kaka Point. The sun was peeking out and the coast looked pretty spectacular. We opted for this route as it was a little less climbing, but a couple of km longer. Constatine was making a solid push to Dunedin. My plans changed as well as adding 30km to the ride to Middlemarch would have been crazy, since a good portion is steep, steep gravel. So I went to Lawrence instead and was treated to 40km of gravel grinding. The views from up top were pretty but you get to see how the land is used. Lots of farming and logging. I ran into a lady by Greenfield who asked if I needed help. I was just taking a picture of a random monument. I said nope. I'm heading to Lawrence down this way. She said I must be pretty keen then as its all gravel. I said I knew. I saw a few cars on the gravel, but it reminded me of the gravel ride Bri and I did a few years back. I almost got stung by a bee too! I made sure to zip up my jersey all the way after that. I made a stupid mistake and didn't fill my water bottles when I had the chance. I rationed my last bottle until 30 minutes before I was back in a town. Wouldn't have been an issue, bu the sun came out this afternoon and I was sweating pretty good. However, the wind still cut through your layers. So I kept my vest on and would open it up during the many climbs and zip up for descents and flats.

I'm at a little holiday park in Lawrence for $14 a night. I grabbed a hot shower and hand washed my bibs. Hopefully they are dry in the morning. If I wanted to piss people off there is a fire going in the kitchen that would possibly dry them right quick (I ended up drying them over the fireplace). There is a Warmshowers host in town, but was unable to host on short notice. I did contact another at the other end of the ORT, but still haven't heard back. The plan for tomorrow is to wake up early and do some gravel grinding. The nice lady at the i-site (on my 2nd visit) told me to watch out on the gravel road during the week because of logging trucks. Tomorrow being Sunday I should be golden. Then I grab the highway and meander into Middlemarch. Then I decide 1 or 2 days on the ORT. It depends a bit on the host really. Otherwise, there is a campsite just outside Clyde, where Constantine used to live. He recommends the seared beef at Paulina's, where he used to work. We'll see how that goes.

Oh the GoPro mount broke this morning and the lens on the case got scratched pretty good.

26-03-17
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: 3 (albiet in Middlemarch)

Talked to an interesting guy last night at the holiday park. It is leaps and bounds better than Middlemarch's Holiday Park. He and his wife bring their caravan over for 6 months out of the year. They are thinking of relocating to Lawrence from Gore. It is a little town with lots of quirks. Statues of people all over the place that look like Fisher Price toys. He happens to do interiors. So he has worked on almost all the buildings in town. I would have to say that the amount of hills, tramping, and other things in the area it would be a cool place to visit for longer. Had a nice little breakfast at the only open cafe. I opted for banana french toast with bacon and a mince pie. Constantine had asked about the pie ride and how I rate pies. It comes down to portability: does your crust handle well, i.e. not break apart. The taste of the pastry and is it flaky, but will sufficient body to hold the contents. Does the top stay on? Filling: No gaps between filling and crust. Tasty as? Thinking of a 5 pie rating that will be flushed out over the coming weeks. Something similar for caramel slices.

Today's ride was bound to be wet. The weather forecast didn't look pretty and it didn't disappoint. It started hard about 6km into the 80km ride and didn't let up. Just so happened to rain when my Garmin ran out of juice and I ran out of sealed road. Thankfully it was Sunday and no logging trucks were zipping around. I think you could put a point to point gravel grinder and it would go gang busters as its a challenging area. The area was a blend of forestry, farming, and a big lake. I was rather excited to ride over the lake as I saw it from the plane the other day. Then once I got back to paved road, I was able to ride a little faster, but I did end up pushing my bike up another steep hill. The texts from Beth said things like character building, but I was not amused at the time with the weather and steep roads. A total of 4 times I had to push my bike. It was slow going while riding around Lake Mahinerangi. I did manage to spot a small fishing village that hired out lodges. Perfect for Peter. I went from Clutha to Dunedin Region and the colors on the trees changed to Autumn. I stopped at Clark's Junction for a bite to eat. I had been in the saddle for 6 hours and chilled to the bone. I had managed to drink only 1 bottle, nibble 2 squares of chocolate, and 2 mouthfuls of scroggin. So I was hungry and cold. I ended up sitting next to the fire and placing my rain gear next to it to dry out as well. I had a massive steak sandwich, hot chocolate, and a ginger beer. After that it was 30m to Middlemarch. Only 597m of descent and 273m of climbing left for the day. Would be fun not fully loaded and on dry roads. However, the scenery changed once again and I was busy pulling over snapping photos. The landscape is dotted with rock formations and the clouds were low while I was descending into Otago. Beth saved the day by booking me accommodation as I didn't want to tent in the rain when I've been wet all day. The place is what they describe as rustic. That is an understatement to say the least. Room doesn't have a heater, but I had 4 blankets and it was dry. I'm washing and drying my clothes so they'll be fresh for the next couple days. Tomorrow I'm staying in Lauder (108km) in an old school. They have a spa which will feel nice. Then on Tuesday, I'm actually using Warmshowers as a guest. Then its on to Wanaka where I have to look at VodaFone in getting my number back. Well that is about it. Body is feeling a little sore, but I've been stretching at night and massaging my legs. Most kms I've done in awhile but enjoying all of it as its just part of the experience. You know riding New Zealand by bike, back roads, and I'm challenging myself. As Beth said "Character Building. The tough days just make you stronger."

27-03-17
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 0
Cycle Tourists: Too many. It being an awesome time of year.

Woke up last night to my motion detector light and noises outside. Does someone want my clean clothes? Well have fun getting over my bike which is in front of the door. I'm pretty sure some animal ran past the sensor and then the horses next door were making noises. Either way I was up for 30 minutes listening to nothing happening. The holiday park was dry, but the 'cabin' slept 4 which would be pushing it unless you were really close. There wasn't a heater, but with 4 blankets I didn't get cold. Beth booked this on my ride and the owner had to run to Dunedin. So I never saw anyone or paid. Beth just did a bank transfer to them, which works for me. I was out early as I knew I had a longer day in the saddle ahead of me. It the winds played up a really long day. I ate at Kissing Gate Cafe again, the last time being in January, and had a large breakfast. Most days I'm only really eating twice. Something small on the ride, but haven't been that hungry. Too cold typically to stop.

The morning started out with some mist and a slight breeze. I thought to myself to snap some photos to ask Irish Rachel if this reminds her of home. The km's flew by and I passed a couple who were eating at the cafe when I arrived. He commented 'I wondered when you would pass.' It was maybe an hour into the ride. Starting in February, there has been an Arts on the Rail Trail happening. This means that it wasn't the exact same ride as January. Which was nice! There is a new permanent sculpture of the planetary system along the trail. Before half way the sun came out and I got to remove my layers. Yeah for warm sun! I pulled into Waipiata for a quick snack of Ginger Beer and 2 lamb kebab skewers while refilling my bottles. I really only wanted fluids but thought I should have some food as well. Beth and I texted at the stop. She told me only 28km then down hill. Sometimes it is nice to have someone relaying logistics to you. I'm typically a play it by ear kind of guy. Like the last 2 days I was pretty sure there were gravel roads as Google didn't list them for car directions. It all worked out. Even at the Lauder School B&B, which is awesome by the way, the host was amazed that I went over the hill from Lawrence. Time to capitalize on back road riding!

There were too many groups of cyclists today to count, but it is proof that the seasons don't stop people from riding the trail. I actually preferred this time. Not very hot. Leaves changing colors. Autumn smells and apples in the trees/on the ground. I also got to the high point of the trail without much effort. I had just passed the lodge that I recalled being by the high point. Then I cam across 2 Aussies snapping photos at the marker. I snapped a few for them and proceeded to bomb down the hill. I stopped in a cafe in Lauder for a drink and a quick snack while asking for directions to tonight's accommodations. Turns out the Warmshowers host is a teacher who taught Esme's kids years ago. Small world New Zealand strikes again.

My room is the play hut. It sleeps 2 and the spa is right around the corner. It was a welcomed treat after the beating I've been giving my body. The plan for tomorrow is to ride to Alexandra and to stay with Kevin and Jenny from Warmshowrers. It will be my first time staying with a host. Esme said that Jenny is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to cycling. I may want to ride further on a different trail if their schedule doesn't work out and I need to show up later. Then it is on to Wanaka to sort out VodaFone and possibly some body work over the 2 nights I plan on staying before heading over to the West Coast.

I'm debating sending some stuff back home as I've not used it yet. I figured if I've not used it next week, it is either getting sent back or removed when I go through Wellington. I know for sure I can remove the 3rd water bottle mount unless I start carrying stubby bottles. My adventure tires rub the bottle top. The bike is handling better but I've had to repack the bags more evenly. In the left, I have books, cook gear and food, and warm/rain gear. In the right I have my clothes, toiletries, and electronics. Then sleeping gear minus the bag in a dry sack across the top of the rack. The sleeping bag and daily essentials are on the handlebars. I've taken to stashing 2 filled water bottles on the top of the panniers as I ran out the other day. Then for emergencies, I have 2 liters in the tent dry bag.

The key to riding daily is nightly stretching and adjusting body position throughout the day. Today I even stopped for 10 minutes to stretch out my hamstrings, hip flexors, back, and glutes. At night I put my legs up in the air for a spell and do rotational stretches as well as calf and quad stretches.

So Kiwi: A bloke opens the door to the pub and states "So there are 20-30 sheep on the main road." The owner grabs the phone book, "we'll get it sorted". He mutters to himself "who lives down there? His name is Steven? James? What is his surname? Oh Ross." The cook calls the number as the owner manages the bar. She explains the situation about the sheep on the loose and ends the call with "If they aren't yours can you call further down the road?"

28-03-17
Pie Count: 0
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: Too many

Woke up and talked to Bruce, the other half of the Lauder School B&B. Talked more about the area and what to expect for the day's ride. The ride to Alexandra was fairly quick. Views were a little different than January and  Bruce said that April/May is the best time to ride and stop by vineyards for Autumn colors. I did a little shopping in Alexandra before heading out on the 1st 3rd of the Roxburgh Gorge Trail. It follows the Clutha River and has massive steep walls almost as soon as you leave town. The 2nd 3rd is a boat ride down the river to the last section that then joins the Clutha Gold Trail to Lawrence. It would be fun to come do these as a circuit of trail rides. My legs were ready for more tomorrow, but my bum has finally started getting sore. So it will be good to take a day off in Wanaka. I'll get a massage, sort my phone, and do some laundry. I also road parts of the River Trail, which is a different path from Alexandra to Clyde, which is more technical than the flat rail trail.

29-03-17
Pie Count: 1
Caramel Slice: 1
Cycle Tourists: 1 (@ camp ground none on the road)

Woke up early at Jenny and Kevin's as they were going to be out the door by 8. However, their plans changed and they kept feeding me more food. Its not often that I turn down food, but I was stuffed at dinner and at breakfast. This wasn't as bad as Ravi, but was more than I was comfortable with. They snapped a quick photo for their guest book and I was off. Speaking of their guest book, they ask for recommendations from their guests. Something I'll add to ours. I took the back roads to Clyde and went past a cemetery, which looked cool in the fog. So I took a couple pictures. The road to Cromwell was really foggy. I say visibility was about 10m, so I opted to stay off the highway for a bit. I stopped at a cafe and had a forgettable slice, but their carrot cake muffin was tasty. The road to Cromwell cleared up so I left. The road travels past the dam and Lake Dunestan and gently climbs before arriving at Cromwell. It was rather picturesque today with the fall colors, remaining mist, and still lake. A professional photographer was going up and down the road taking photos even.

I asked in Cromwell at the i-site which was the best route to Wanaka. Google said that 8a was a little longer, but less elevation. She said 6 as the shoulder and road were very nice and didn't have confusing turns. So I went down 6 and I was able to stop in Luggate for a late lunch. It was a small pub only about 15km away from Wanaka. The views from Cromwell to Wanaka were a mix of orchards, vineyards, and mountains. It was easy to get distracted. Luckily there was very little traffic. The pictures I grabbed don't do it justice. Wanaka still makes me angry though. Upon entering the Holiday Park, I heard an out of tune ukelele right where I'm supposed to pitch my tent. Don't push your crappy music on us bro. It didn't help that I spent most of the afternoon getting my phone sorted. I still wasn't authorized to take my number back even though the SIM card I gave them as now active with my number. A quick email got them to call support, which only put it in the notes field. I then had to sign up to a plan, only to cancel it, to go to prepay. Ugh. I hate phones. However, it been a good week of riding, but its time to push a bit, not that I'm on the road.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Update from the pie ride

I'm in Lawrence which wasn't planned nor was riding with Constantine, a German guy, I passed twice.  So on day 2 and the morning of 3 we rode together.  Meant my pace was slower and his faster. It also meant I didn't get to Balclutha until this morning.  Then the long ride to middlemarch didn't seem feasible on new touring legs.  So I went for a stunning gravel ride to Lawrence leaving me about 80km to Middlemarch. Then onto the Otago Rail Trail.