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Daily Diary 1 (Day 1 to Day 10)

Page entries run from the bottom.


Day 10

3 Decemberr 2010

Coromandel to Tairua

Today was our hilliest yet with over 1,300 vertical metres climbed. After a slow start tinkering with our bikes and a huge breakfast with Guy and Julia we made our way back down the steep driveway. We would have liked to stay longer at their bush sanctuary but we had to move on. State highway 25 took us up and up and over to the east coast of the peninsula.

We stopped for a short lunch in Whitianga but couldn't afford to linger after such a late start. We carried on to a place just short of Tairua and were relieved to find the gate of family friends Reinhard and Michaela, signaling the end of the day - or so we thought. We still had over 200 very steep metres to climb to get to their house. If the ride didn't kill us, the driveway did and we proudly take our place as the first people to reach their house by bicycle - a rather peculiar achievement to conclude our day.

We had a tour of the gardens and the house, which Reinhard designed with so much thought and attention to detail, combining all his years of experience as an eco-architect. They had made such a lovely dinner and we were treated to some live piano afterwards. Reinhard told us of his eventful carreer since moving out here from Germany.

Too tired to blog last night but feeling very rested this morning after 9 hours sleep. Ready for another big day and to meeting Rotary Clubs of Waihi and Katikati along the way. Lets just hope our brakes cope with the driveway...

Xaver and Ollie



Day 9

2 December 2010

Ferry to Coromandel - Rest Day?

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 30.71
Metres climbed: 347 (some rest day!)

Another early start (by our standards), we left Ollie's grandmother's house and headed for the Rotary Club of St John's. They put on a great cooked breakfast and pretty raucus company for 7 o'clock in the morning. We witnessed the induction of a new member to the club and were then given a few minutes to sell our case. It was a case of preaching to the converted as their club had already decided to pitch in $500 for their section but we also told them a bit about our trip so far and about how impressed we were at the work that clubs in the area had put in.
Unfortunately we had to race off at 8 to catch our ferry. So much for a rest day, by the time we got on the ferry we had cycled 20kms at a brisk average of 19kmh but it was worth it as we stood in the queue - hot and sweaty but full and possessing two ferry tickets. We then had two hours to enjoy the many islands in the Hauraki Gulf, and even to catch up on a bit of lost kip.
When we arrived in Coromandel we were very happy to see Ollie's father Guy on the pier playing the role of photographer. He had been in touch with the local papers and was collecting pictures for them to include in their articles. What a champion! Coffee in the township was followed by a ride up Guy and Julia's driveway - our steepest hill yet (18% gradient) - and lunch, sauna, bushwalks and massage from Julia, a massage therapist, filled the rest of the day. Their heartfelt hospitality and bush covered property made us feel like kings. We reluctantly leave this luxury behind tomorrow to be reminded what else we are here for. Good old-fashioned hard slog.
80kms to Pumpkin Hill over some epic hills await us.
Xaver and Ollie

Day 8

1 December 2010

Whangaparaoa to Auckland

Stats for today...
Kms travelled: 66.63
Metres climbed: 906

What a day! We met Merv Huxford from Rotary Club of Orewa at Silverdale and rode through the East Coast Bays, picking up keen Rotarian cyclists along the way. By the time we got to Takapuna there were six of us, including Gay and Rob from Downtown Auckland and Sunil from Auckland Harbourside.

Rotary Club of Takapuna members were out on the street with posters, banners and buckets, talking with and collecting donations from passers by. Our presence gave them something to point at when explaining our mission.

Takapuna Primary School had organised a "gold coin donation" day and the Class Councillors and Principal Cindy Walsh met us to deliver the collection and ask lots of questions about our ride and about our bikes. They had a great time trying to lift our bikes with all their gear.

In Devonport we met a man whose sister had died of polio in the fifties. He explained the ordeal to us all, it was terrible to hear how quickly her life had changed from looking after two children with her husband to being trapped, immobile in an iron lung. she survived for two years in this way before she died.

Once in Auckland, we said goodbye to two more from our entourage and the four of us remaining made our way along the 20 km loop through the Domain, Mission Bay and ended up at Aotea square. There we were joined by The Leader of the Opposition The Hon Phil Goff, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, Auckland Councillor Richard Northey, and Rotarians from many Auckland Clubs to celebrate the completion of our first leg, acknowledge Rotary's ongoing commitment to polio and to wish us success for the many days we have ahead of us. A few words were spoken and we were very grateful for such a distinguished turnout.

We and a small party of prominent Rotarians then made our way to Government House, where Their Excellencies Sir Anand Satyanand and Lady Susan Satyanand hosted us for afternoon tea and made us feel very welcome. They were incredibly supportive of our journey and we were were equally appreciative for their time and interest.

We are overwhelmed by the events of today. We know that as well as the money raised, the support we received from so many distinguished figures will help us to propel the issues of polio into the minds of New Zealanders and for that we are extremely grateful.

Tomorrow we start the day early with a breakfast meeting at the Rotary Club of St Johns before catching the ferry to Coromandel where we will will spend the rest of the day catching up with Ollie's father Guy.

Hopefully we'll get some pictures from our Auckland leg posted to this page soon too.

Xaver and Ollie

Day 7

30 November 2010

Warkworth to Whangaparaoa (posted a bit late because of tiredness)

We woke up and rode the last few kms into Warkworth for a chat and a photo with Nichole Ganley from Mahurangi Matters - the local paper. In between questions and friendly conversation, Nichole warned us of the various hills we would have to climb before we reached our destination. We were unperturbed.

After the first major hill we were slightly perturbed and had a rest under the guise of applying sunscreen. Thankfully the remaining hills seemed to descend in difficulty and we rode over into Orewa tiumphant - if not yet quite finished.

We stopped in at the Orewa Medical Centre where Ollie's mum works as a nurse. These guys are on the frontline of polio vaccinations in New Zealand, inoculating young babies every day. They may even give us a donation too. Fingers crossed.

Next stop was lunch with Ollie's other family. Beautiful South Indian fare from the family of Ollie's schoolmate Ananth Gopal left us feeling very satisfied and not too impressed with the final 13kms to Ollie's mum's house. We got there with the feeling that we had made our first small achievement - Cape Reinga to home.

A very successful talk at Rotary Club of Orewa and the proceeds of their Sergeant's Session will go to PolioPlus. We meet Merv Huxford who has recently raised money riding across the North Island. He announced that he would like to give $1000 towards our fund raising efforts.

Xaver and Oliver

Day Six

Whangarei to Warkworth

29 November 2010

Stats for today...
Kms travelled: 101.23
Metres climbed: 941

We did our biggest ride yet today - 101kms, climbing nearly a thousand metres - and it was great! We left the hotel at 8 to get in some good riding before the sun gained force and the breeze was calmer too. We flew along the long flat straights to the Waipu turnoff to escape the busy highway. The increase in hills and tight turns was definitely worth it for the scenery and lack of traffic. Those trucks just aren't pleasant and on the side roads we find we have a lot of interested fans - big, hairy, mooing ones who stop chewing to watch us and who Xaver attempts to get to join us in our ride for polio. They usually decline the offer.

Lunch after 60 kms at Mangawhai Heads - we thought ahead yesterday and brought some macaroni and sausages with us, which we ate with great relish and which gave us plenty of energy for another round in the afternoon. We felt fresh after our break and set off in high spirits.

The local council had been kind enough to pave a road that took us well beyond our target town of Wellsford and nearly to Warkworth where we will meet Nichole Ganley from the local paper tomorrow.

We are staying at a lovely campsite cum sheep-themed tourist attraction, this time near bush and a stream. After a big dinner we have taken refuge in the tent to escape the sandflies and mossies because someone (ahem...Ollie) forgot the sponsored repellant, Goodbye Sandly.

Good thing we're nearly in Whangaparaoa where Ollie's mum lives so we can pick it up. That will be a big milestone for us as well.

Tomorrow night we'll be going to the Orewa Rotary Club meeting followed the next day by our procession down the North Shore and loop around Auckland City before the welcome at Aotrea Square and  afternoon tea at Government House.

Ollie and Xaver

Day 4 and 5

Rest day in Paihia

Woke up to early morning sun over the bay. After watching the seagulls fight and the ducks checking if we had any food we made the 3km trek into town for breakfast. The staff were grumpy and pushy but the coffee was bottomless and it felt strange but good not to be cycling. We carried on to Waitangi to explore the Treaty grounds. Hours of wandering and perusing and imagining what must have taken place on this land and in these houses was finished off nicely with a beer in the garden. As usual it was great to take a break from the unrelenting afternoon sun!

On the way home Ollie jumped off the bridge with the local boys, who possibly didn't expect him to take up their invitation. We picked up some fish and veges for our BBQ dinner and mosied back around the rocks to the campground.

Not much sleep to be had as a group of travellers and locals made a fire right next to our tent and seemed to party all night. Negotiations with the rowdy bunch (which I did while wearing not much more than my underpants) were nearly successful but did result in a lot of awareness raising for PolioPlus and even a donation! Despite this we were grumpy in the morning from lack of sleep.

Paihia to Whangarei

More sun! Today we had a high of 35 degrees and plenty of huge hills. Bodies are getting used to it though and muscles are springing up out of nowhere to take the strain.

We noted today that we have only been passed by one cyclist. There have been a couple going the other direction but we expected to see more fellow travellers. Admittedly these roads aren't great for cyclists but we have been pleasantly surprised by the behaviour of all but a few motorists.

We joined a gang of motorcyclists at a backwater pub for lunch. They sipped pints of beer while we nibbled our tiny toasted sandwiches at $4 each. We rolled into Kamo, Whangarei in the late afternoon to stay in the Kamo Hotel where Don Armitage has kindly allowed us to stay for free. We did a food-shop for our big cycling day tomorrow and found amazing 2-4-1 pizzas to finish off the day.

We've got loads of great images but we're waiting to we get to a broadband connection at Whangaparoa to download them.

Stats for the Day – 73.2 km covered and 882 meters of climb. Big day tomorrow with nearly 100km planned as we head for Wellsford.

Xaver & Oliver

Day Three

26 November 2010

We finished the day pitching our tent in a beautiful camping ground just outside Paihia. Tomorrow is our first rest day and after the experience of the last three days we're very glad we built it in to our programme.

The problem with training for something like this is that you don't load the bike up the way it is on the actual journey - tents, panniers, clothes, food etc.  So you push your bike and yourself around and get lulled into believing you're fit and ready to go. But three days in our knees are telling us how foolish our confidence was. All that extra weight has to put pressure on some part of the body.  Tomorrow will be blessed relief.

We also know we'll get used to it (or at least our knees will) because we're doing some easy distance early and taking our rest days.

Fewer kilometres today (only 57.58) although we were greeted this morning by a great big hill (climbed 746 metres in the day), which took a gruellling hour to climb. Today was also the hottest day so far and the combination of hill and heat resulted in sunglasses full of sweat at the top. We shook them off and pressed on to Kerikeri. We lingered a bit there, reading the paper and giving our knees a rest knowing that the afternoon cycle would be shorter. Our bodies are slowly adjusting to their new life in the saddle but it can be a painful adjustment at times.

We do wonder about our bike distance and height computer too. It seems to be out by about 5% on the short side compared with Googlemaps - very frustrating.

A conversation with a road worker from Moerewa ''sleeping rocks'' immediately endeared us to the region and our spirits were high as we rolled into the Bay of Islands. We have another beautiful campsite under a pohutukawa tree and this time right on the waterfront. Tomorrow we will walk back into Paihia and Waitangi and do some exploring by foot or perhaps by kayak.

No Rotarians today unfortunately but we look forward to catching up with some as we get closer to Auckland.  We know they'll be looking out for us in Warkworth and also in Orewa.

Here's our pictures from today.

Xaver and Ollie


Day Two

25 November 2010

We started quite early to try to beat the wind and ended up succeeding for most of the day though the wind did kick in again later in the afternoon.

It was also a much less hilly ride today with only 675 vertical metres being recorded on the bike computer.

The scenery of Ninety Mile Beach gave way to hilly farmland and coastal towns. Red-gold sand and ocean brilliant blue in the sun.

It was sad to see my Mum and Brett finally depart for home and  leave us to our Journey.  They’ve been great support and company at lunchtimes and at the end of the day.

We are on our own now, bringing a change in the mood - a greater feeling of adventure.

After a long and relatively flat ride of 77.95 km we reached the camp ground at Whangaroa where we found a lovely tree to pitch our tent under and a trampoline to work out the muscle strains of the day. Also looking forward to a shower and some Deep Heat for the knees.

Unfortunately we didn’t meet up with any Rotarians  today but most people we come across are very friendly and interested in what we’re doing. But the reaction we got from one chap was a bit strange.
Apparently he’d cycled through Afghanistan.  He saw no polio and thinks there are bigger problems in the world people ought to worry about.  However, not wanting to sound totally negative, he told us we should ring President Obama and get some of the money the US is spending on the war there for our cause.  Unfortunately he didn’t have President Obama’s number so we had to give that suggestion a miss.

Tomorrow we head for Paihia via Kerikeri where we’re going to have lunch with the Rotary Club – we can smell it already. Then we have a rest day on Saturday at Paihia to make sure Xaver sees some of the jewels of our historical crown.

Sunday gets us to Whangarei and we really start to pack the Rotary activities in.

Best wishes to the Rotary Club of Feilding which is having its sausage sizzle in the main street on Saturday to raise funds for PolioPlus. If you’re passing through or a Feilding-ite please make sure to go and get a great BBQ sausage.

Oliver & Xaver

Day One

24 November 2010

Started early from Rangiputa where we spent a last night before lift-off in a neat little bach on the Northland coast.

After a great breakfast cooked by Mum it was into the car for the two-hour trip to Cape Reinga and the start of our Journey of Hope.

Xaver and I first talked about a major cycle tour 6 years ago while I was in Germany on an exchange arranged by my school Kristin College in Albany. We never thought about much more than the ride then.  Adding this extra dimension of doing it for polio has been huge – both in terms of the issues we’ve had to take onboard and the level of extra work we’ve had to do.  Doing it for ourselves would have meant less phone calls, less Rotary meetings and less preparation.  But that’s exactly what makes it worthwhile.

We’re not doing this just for ourselves anymore – it’s mostly about helping people to understand how important polio still is, and will continue to be, if we don’t take the opportunity to eradicate it and end polio now.

Literally, no child is safe until this disease is eradicated.

So we hit the pedals at 10 a.m. after final pictures were taken and a DOC guy who was planting there gave us $5 for PolioPlus.

Our support crew headed down the road ahead of us and hit the beaches! How supportive is that?

Great weather but we had a headwind for most of the day.  That was a surprise because we had carefully worked out our route to cycle downhill and with a tail wind.  After all northerlies are supposed to be the prevailing winds and we had a southerly all day.

So our rate of progress was slower than expected.  The cycle computer tells us we averaged a tad over 15km an hour.  The unexpectedly hilly terrain probably had a bit to do with it too we actually climbed 1043 metres during the day.

So by the time we reached our finishing place at Lake Waipareira at the end of the day we’d covered 83.66 km and taken 5hrs 25 mins doing it (without any stops). The body was feeling a bit tired and some bits were quite sore.

Had lots of friendly waves from the locals and tourists as we went along which kept our spirits up.

Tomorrow should be slightly easier as we ride to Whangaroa which is 80.7 km according to Google Maps.  Hopefully we’ll be in touch with the Rotary Club of Kaitaia on the way. The weather forecast looks pretty good though the wind is supposed to swing to the south-east.

We’ll be in touch again tomorrow.

Oliver and Xaver

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