BAC New Zealand - 2015
February 10 - Masterton to Wellington
We had a good hotel breakfast. The only difference from other days was the BBQ beans with the scrambled eggs. We had to make our own instant coffee, but Ann and I passed on that because there were no cups. Eager cyclists got there before we did.
I started cycling at a leisurely pace. The sky was bright blue and the wind had died down from yesterday. After about 10 minutes, I was passed by the rabbits. Richard Hanke, the winery owner from the San Jose area, and Paul Ciano, the chiropractor from the Los Angeles area, are very fast riders. The only time the rest of us see them on our routes is when they start later than everyone else. They arrive at our next lodging hours before we do. Richard takes lots of photos while he is pedaling and has shared them on his Flickr account.
Today was the big hill day. When David gave his route preview, he warned us that it was a steep, winding hill with almost no shoulder and lots of traffic. (It was on another State Highway). The climb was about 1700 feet in about 7 miles. There were lots of left hand blind curves with no shoulder. I was a little worried about vehicle traffic and had a few close calls. But drivers generally were very courteous. Even the huge lumber trucks didn't harass me.
I reached Rimutaka Summit and took a rest. I had a brief conversation with a women who was being filmed for what I suspect was a TV show segment. She told me that in World War I, there was an army camp in the valley below the side of the hill that I just rode up. Several thousand troops marched over the summit on dirt roads to reach Wellington and to be shipped out to fight in the war. It must have been a tough hike.
I ate a snack and put back on my warmer gear for the descent. And what a descent it was! I couldn't reach a very high speed. (Older cyclists need to be conservative). I kept ahead of a big truck until the road leveled out, though.
I stopped at a convenience store and ate my lunch with Clarice Sackett, Janet James and Lance James. After that I rode on alone into Wellington on the busy highway without much to see until I reached the harbor. I had trouble finding the correct turns once I reached the city, so I improvised on an interesting bicycle/pedestrian trail and finally reached The Bay Plaza Hotel.
Our room was on the tenth floor. It is small but it has all of the essentials - a bed, a bathroom and hot water. We have a good view of the hill and all of the houses behind the hotel.
Our social hour had nothing significant except the goodies that Ann and Asbjorn prepared. The liquor laws didn't allow to use our own drinks in hotel meeting rooms. I suspect that the hotel lobbiests snuck this through the legislature. So John gave us a chit and we used it to order a drink from the bar.
After cleaning up the meeting room, Ann an I walked to Courtenay Place, a street near our hotel where there are dozens of bars and restaurants. We settled into Sweet Mother's Kitchen , a New Orleans/Cajun restaurant. I had root beer beef spareribs with mashed potatoes, a Moonless stout and rhubarb strawberry pie. Ann had a tuna entrée and bread pudding. The restaurant was very busy when we got there. We sat at a long table with several other people. Our tattooed waitress was very efficient. We were the oldest people in the restaurant by far.
We have learned that New Zealand restaurants have taxes and tips built into their prices. We don't have to be worried about tipping. The price on the menu is what you pay. They have also solved the separate check problem. When we finish our meal, we go to the register, tell them what we ordered and then pay our bill. Of course they know exactly what was ordered at the table, so it balances out after everyone pays.
We walked along the harbor to settle our meal.