The red sky at night, shepherds delight saying didn’t really ring true this morning as we woke to a very gusty, grey Gizzy; maybe that’s what shepherds like, but it’s not what two cycling tourists who are already somewhat nervous by the road ahead, want first thing in the morning.
Today’s challenge lay on the 60km stretch of State Highway 2 from Gisborne to Morere, a road busy with traffic and logging trucks and although the first 30kms were flat we were faced with a series of long steep ascents and descents.
The gusty start set the tone for the day and after a bit of hanging around waiting for the rain to clear we said our goodbyes to Gisborne.
Just as the morning nerves where settling we were chased by two fearless Rottweiler farm dogs who miraculously avoided being hit by the oncoming traffic in both directions.
The increased volume of traffic is now something we have to contend with, and for the most part drivers are respectful and do their best to give us space, but of course there is the occasional one (usually a SUV driver!) that deserves our wrath and associated hand signals.
Today we had our biggest hills to date, the first a 4.5km fairly steep one up Kopua Hill (120metres) and a 3km downhill, before another 8km steep climb up to the top of Wharerata Hill at an elevation of 510metres. At times we resembled the hare and the tortoise, with Dave always taking the lead, but then me overtaking him on his rest breaks. We were certainly ready for our picnic lunch at the top, but we didn’t hang around for too long as the wind would’ve skinned you! Great views overlooking Poverty Bay and Gisborne.
If we thought the headwinds made it tough going uphill, they were much harder to contend with on the downhill. It was scary at times, impossible to hear the following traffic, and certainly a white knuckle ride as the gusts buffered the bikes on every bend.
It was a relief to arrive safe and sound at Morere, and even more of a pleasure to spend this evening soaking in the hot pools, especially since we paid only $2 extra each to have the entire place to ourselves! It felt indulgent and oh so relaxing despite branches being blown down left, right and centre.
Tomorrow we’ll move on to Wairoa and hope the winds die down.
This 9-week trip to NZ is not all about biking. We start by dropping the bikes in Auckland, flying to Queenstown to spend a couple of weeks and to run the marathon. Fly back to AKL and ride south to Nelson via Eastland & Hawkes Bay, before returning from Wellington to AKL by train.
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