BAC New Zealand - 2015
February 7 - Napier to Waipukurau
A few things before I write about today's experience:
1. Someone asked about my comments in my blog about SH roads. SH stands for "State Highway". These highways are major thoroughfares between major cities in New Zealand. Most times they are the only road from point A to point B. That is why we ride on them. They have become "dreaded" because most of the shoulders are narrow or non-existent. They also tend to be rough because their surface is chip sealed with big chips. If you stray to the left, there is gravel or dirt. If you stray to the right over the fog line, there are rumble strips. Past the rumble strips is the road. Traffic has been moderate, but the speed of cars, trucks and buses and their closeness is very intimidating. Plus, the wind thrust from the large vehicles pushes us off of our line.
2. Ann does not ride a bicycle. She rides in the van with Asbjorn to the next hotel. Then they shop for the next social hour. She then sets up the goodies for the social hour.
3. The hotels and motels have been good so far. They are not four-star, but they have been clean. Hot water is normal.
OK. Today's experience:
The breakfast at our hotel apparently was too expensive, so David Williams worked out a deal at Cafe Devine which was a 15-minute walk from our hotel. We had a full served hot breakfast. We started with fresh-squeezed Orange juice and real coffee from one of those huge espresso machines. Then they served us scrambled eggs topped with a poached egg. There was sausage, ham, hash brown potatoes and toast. I tag this as our best breakfast yet.
When we mounted our bicycles we rode south along the ocean beach for about 10km. We were inland for the rest of the ride. We rolled through the towns of Clive and Havelock North and continued on a flat surface for about 25km. Then we were out in the country with cool temperatures, blue sky and a strong headwind. This headwind was in our face for the rest of the ride.
I was riding with John Gradwell, Andrea Kneeland and Germain Berube, the French connection (they are from Quebec). We began practicing a proper pace line technique. This helped a lot because we were going through rolling hills with the headwind. At about 30km the length and steepness of the hills picked up and we began to separate. We climbed about 100 meters onto an open plain. Tall hills were on both sides. The fields were filled with brown grass which was bent toward our direction because of the wind. Our little group had split apart. Somewhere along the way, Richard Hanke, Germain and I became a group and we rode together to a biker bar at km 55. Richard filled his water bottles and went on. Germain and I stayed there and ate our PB&J sandwiches. The biker bar had a dozen or so bikers in it. They were all respectable looking kind of like the ones you see in the Italian countryside. No Hells Angels here.
Germain and I left together and slowly rode the rollers into Waipukurau . The last few kms were back on one of the dreaded SHs. What a contrast to the country roads that we were on before.
This is my favorite ride so far on this tour. Traffic was light, the road surface was good and the scenery was beautiful. The only negative was the headwind. The pluses vastly outnumbered the negatives.
The rooms in the Fergusson Motor Lodge are pretty plain. They are all called suites for some reason. Our room has a queen-sized bed, a small kitchen area and a bathroom. Wifi is very expensive.
Our social hour was at 5:00 in John Gradwell's room. His room is a real suite with two bedrooms, a large sitting area and a kitchen. Speaking of John, the van had to go out and pick him up. His GPS went blank and he got lost. He said it was a good experience because he met some people who took him to their house for a beer while he called Asbjorn for a ride.
We walked a block to a pub with eight other people. For dinner, Ann had a warm Moroccan salad and I had pasta with shrimp. A shared fruit crumble topped off our meal. This was not typical pub food.