Monday, April 1, 2013

How did I spend my Easter? Cyclecamping

Current set-up

I spent 4 days riding my bike and camping around the Waikato region and you can see my SPOT progress here.  I forgot to turn it on the first day and I'm new to the site so I believe they disappear after 7 days.  So I packed up on mid Friday morning and headed out after lunch on my disc trucker to do some cyclecamping.  My intentions were to go South to Matamata and then cut West to Raglan, but realized after closer inspection of my map that I would be on busy highways most of the way to Raglan.  Not so much fun, so I deviated and went further South to the Waikato River Trail instead.  I didn't get to ride much of it as it is designated an advanced mountain bike trail with lots of switchbacks and lung searing ascents.  Instead I poked around on country roads and enjoyed nature.  I talked to several guys who just got done doing the majority of the trail and they said not to attempt it with my current set-up.  I'll have to come back down with my mountain bike and blitz the trail to make up for lost time.
Hauraki Rail Trail
The first day I rode from Thames to Matamata and stayed in the Opal Holiday Park.  I took the Hauraki Rail Trail until Te Aroha then I took a country road past the Wairere Falls and came into Matamata from the East.  I rolled up to the holiday park looking for a place to toss my bivy bag.  I was shown a spot next to a large RV with 2 televisions that were on all night and buckled down for some rest.  I had spent roughly 4.5 hrs in the saddle and I needed to recharge for the next day.  It was during this time that I decided not to push to Raglan as I would have to ride the shoulder of highways the entire way and go through Hamilton and Cambridge to do so.  The distance was doable, but drivers here aren't the most observant to bikers.  I know from personal experience.
A place Skog and I scaled while he was visiting.

The 2nd day I went from Matamata to the first leg of the Waikato River Trail in Arapuni then took country roads to Putaruru.  From there I was going to head down to Tokoroa, but my guide said there were only hotels there.  So I headed back North along Hw1 to Tirua where there is supposed to be a backpackers but I learned from the ladies at the iSite that there is a campground in Okoroire just 6km away.  I did the short little peddle out there and was pleasantly surprised with the sweet spot that I set up in.  I also came across 2 other cycle tourers camping from Rotorua who just spent the last couple days doing the Bay of Plenty.  We talked about different trails and bike set ups.  It was recommended that I do the East Cape, so Tauranga to Gisborne in the near future.

A quick turn off of Hw1.
 Day 3 started early as I was awakened by mosquitoes galore and by hunger.  I was eating food at basically every stop as I felt like I was famished.  So before breakfast I rode 23km to Matamata where I had to chuckle at all the tourist buses that showed up and people scrambled out to take photos of the Hobbit-esque iSite.  They would descend in droves and just stand in the middle of the road taking photos as cars wanted to get past.  I have no problem being a tourist nor taking photos, but you have to be smart about it.  Speaking of photos, I have to apologize for the quality as I was trying out shooting from my handlebars.  I had asked for a gorilla-pod for X-mas and I have taken to slapping it on the stem and just hitting the button when I feel like it.  The exposure on the camera is acting a little weird as well.  Lots of photos are turning out dark.  From Matamata I headed back up to Te Aroha via the back road and came across a Kiwi touring back to the South Island.  He has been away for several years riding across the States, but we chatted in the middle of the road for probably 20 minutes or so, only having 2 cars come past during that time.  He was an interesting fellow and we talked about being on the road and our next destination.  I had decided on my way home, that I was either going to stay in Te Aroha or Paeroa, even though I could have made it back to Thames as I stopped riding at about noon.  Instead I ate at Ben's Roast again and wandered up to the YHA.  I made up my bed and then guarded it from any scoundrel that would claim it as their own.  There was a girl from Malaysia, but she just locked herself in her room and didn't want to converse so I just read.  I'm glad I opted for the hostel as it pissed down rain for a long time last night.  Not to mention my body is covered in itchy mosquito bites. 
Some of the Waikato River Trail
Yes that is a giant slide.
The place I crashed in Okoroire.

My humble set-up to sleep.  I didn't have my pillow out yet.

Day 4 started early again as I had some weird dreams.  I do advocate reading the Felix Castor books, but as they deal with the dead (ghosts, zombies, geists, and were-things) you might have some vivid dreams.  I know I did.  So I was out making breakfast of spaghetti and tuna for breakfast and then setting off for the final 60km of gravel trail.  It was a very humid morning and it didn't take any effort to break into a sweat.  I only overtook 4 people on my way back and a couple ladies asked where my accent was from.  I slowed down and talked to them for a couple kms and then parted ways.  I saw plenty of people just outside of Thames as I waited for them to cross the bridge and then for a family to get organized in the middle of the path.  I slowed down and deftly maneuvered between kids and downed bikes.  I got back before noon and had a bite to eat at a local cafe where I finished the last 20 pages of my book before summoning the energy to ride up the hill to the current house.  My legs were a bit sore and not looking forward to the steady climb.  After cleaning my bike and doing my laundry, I had to head back down the hill to the grocery store.  Ugh my legs are tight and a swim in the morning will probably do them well.
Tauranga is on the other side of the Kaimai Mamaku Forest.

Doing this just solidifies that I still want to do my tour.  Just have to train Beth up and we can do it together.  Save up a fair chunk of cash and set off in a couple years time?  See what I can do. 

More places to explore.

Cyclecamping Gear:
Sleeping bag
Bivy Bag
Cocoon Pillow
Camp Stove (didn't use)
Fuel (didn't use)
Cooking Pot
4 pairs of socks (2 unused)
2 pairs of padded shorts
2 pairs of shorts
2 wool t-shirts
1 tank top (didn't use)
1 long sleeve shirt
1 pair thermal pants
1 pair of gloves
1 bandana (didn't use)
shammy towel
3 cycle books/maps
food stuff
1st aid kit
2 tubes
tire levers

Next time things:
Sleeping pad (it is coming over with Beth)
mosquito spray

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