I woke up feeling the weight of this week in my legs. I've had a handful of days recently with 1km ascent and I haven't felt like my legs were in any way fresh since somewhere on the South Island. But on I ride because I can still turn the pedals, because I still have things to see and I'm running out of time and what else am I going to do?
It really does not help that I woke up and am immediately faced with a 240m climb in about 2.5km. I knew it was there so I stretched and spun lightly around the camp ground hoping to be a little ready. I gritted my teeth and watched my Garmin say 10% grade for oh too long. Leaving camp starts to take me inland so the view from my climb (picture below is about half way up) is the last of the sea I will see for a bit.
After this I drop down to Hick's Bay and the hills are no longer as tall but still just as steep. A head wind picks up somewhere around here and I'm finding I can't get my bike up 14% grades while fighting a wind so I am glad I can walk in these shoes. After fighting wind and steep hills through inland farm country for 50km I'm feeling a little down on my luck.
But finally, I make it back to the coast. I stop to catch my breath and stare at the sea and run into another cyclist going the opposite direction. Good to see I'm not the only one out suffering on these hills. There are far fewer touring cyclists here than on the South Island so sometimes I wonder. From here, the road hugs the coast for the next 200km and the views are fantastic. I am completely blown away by how phenomenal this area is. No traffic, absolutely beautiful weather and constant view of the sea. It may even be worth the week of hills.
The wind has died down and I'm pretty pumped about the scenery so I find some sort of second wind and keep pedaling. I make it to Whanarua Bay and that energy is gone, so I pull in to the cheap beach camp to set up here. I find a quiet corner, reasonably shielded from wind and the morning sun next to two older couples encampment and pitch tent. I'm famished at this point so before I even put things in my tent I walk to a cleared patch of grass to fire up my gas stove and make dinner.
One of the ladies, Sue, saw me and asked if I wanted to join them for dinner. I was kinda caught off guard, I figured they meant bring my food and eat with them but I hadn't even started. She asked what I was eating, beans, rice and Moroccan tomatoes I said, then she offered lamb roast instead.
I join her and her husband Richard as well as their friends Teresa and Doogle for a delicious top notch camp dinner of roast lamb, assorted veggies, wine and beer. There was even blueberry pie for desert. I share stories of my travels and we talk until its completely dark out. As I mentioned before I haven't unpacked anything but my tent so when we split for bed I had to try to set up by my flashlight until the batteries died. Perhaps I should have bought spares when the warning started, oops.
So the day started off with me suffering and being tired and ended in a beautiful coastal ride topped with a fantastic dinner with new friends from the other side of the world. So that's why I tour. Some days I suffer a little and some days maybe I suffer a lot but I'm out here traveling by the power of my legs, seeing new and beautiful places and meeting interesting people from around the world.