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Daily Diary 3 (Day 16 to Day 22)

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Day 22

15 December 2010

Lake Tutira to Napier
 
Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 46.01
Metres climbed: 383

 
The view of the lake from our little hill where we camped was very different from the display of coloured clouds and the rainbow reflected on the surface from last night. This morning the air was crisp and the fog was cool in our lungs. Our morning routine began with Ollie stirring first and packing up his things, while Xaver considered his reentry to the world. Our tent is rather small and can only handle one person moving at a time so we have naturally developed a pattern to cope with this. It made our usual preparations much easier that we didn't have to think about breakfast, as Martina whipped up some eggs and ham. By the time we were nearly ready to go, our two motorbike riding officials turned up to escort us up the Devil's Elbow and into Napier.

 
The gorge's name is well deserved and we took it in turns to set the pace as we followed and were followed by the motorbikes. It was the perfect day to have them as we needed all the visability we could get in the fog and the windy roads. Owen and Allen from Taradale Rotary Club ensured we had a wide berth and a safe passage. We met some more cyclists from Taradale at Owen's house and drank coffee while we waited for our time to move again. When we are cycling with Rotarians and meeting people in the cities our schedule is necessarily quite spaced out and it gives us time to talk to people. It makes a nice change from those days when it is just us and we have a goal in mind.
 
We met more cyclists as we went along and by the end of it we had an impressive turnout of around 12 cyclists and motorcyclists, plus some others who joined us at our destination. These included Deputy Mayor Kathie Furlong, Greenmeadows President Carol Charman, Taradale President Ian Maine and a photographer from the local paper. We only lost one Rotarian along the way - Bruce had a flat tire just after our ride along the cycleway and noone noticed until we had all sat down to have a bite to eat. The cycleway is a joint project between the Rotary Clubs of Napier and the Napier City Council. They are a welcome break from the traffic and roads that are made rough for cars. We had a smooth ride into town and quietly wished for more paths like these ones.

 
After the Deputy Mayor received us we were accompanied to President Carol's house where we are staying for two nights. We needed a bit of down- time before the meeting with Greenmeadows Club this evening but then we jumped into Carol's 1969 Ford Cougar XR7, all freshened up and ready to take the long route to the club room.

 
We met so many people at the club and felt instantly at home in their relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. They were particularly festive this evening as it was their last meeting for the year, although they may have just said this to convince us that they are usually very serious and straightlaced. We didn't believe them for a second and had a great time telling them our story and hearing theirs. Ollie learnt about some fascinating issues surrounding grape growing in the region, continuing our theme of hearing news stories at a local level and we met Franzi Weik, an Austrian exchange student who is attending highschool here in Napier and comes from a town close to the German border and in fact 20kms from where Xaver studies. Greenmeadows, apart from their wonderful support with the cycling today, putting us up for a few nights and inviting us to their meeting have raised $300 through a raffle and a unique activity in which President Carol was decorated like a Christmas angel and then further decorated with money. We don't mind how clubs raise their money, we are just grateful for everything they do!
 
The meeting was followed by a tour of Napier and surrounding suburbs in the Cougar - this time with the top down! As usual it has been a big day and it's time to hit the sack.
 
Xaver and Ollie

 

Day 21

14 December 2010

Wairoa to Lake Tutira

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 77.99
Metres climbed: 1,073


After bacon and eggs we all piled back into the truck and went into town to meet Anne from the Wairoa Sun newspaper. Terry, our host, did a great job looking after us and organising the interview and Rotary Club of Wairoa has pledged $500 towards PolioPlus.

Anne told us that St. Josephs School were having a triathlon just down the road so we rolled down there to have a look. After being introduced to the organisers we were invited to say a few words. This gave us a chance to tell the children and their parents about our ride and about polio. We also got involved in the race itself, taking part in the cycling leg and leaving the running and swimming to the keen young students. This was very fortuitous timing for us as it gave us another chance to spread the word and take part in local events. One of the parents commented that it was very well organised to have us there - we didn't let on that it was just good luck! Annette Pickering, a teacher at St. Josephs and a Rotarian as well, managed to arrange a spontaneous $100 donation for polio from the school, which was a wonderful and unexpected bonus.


It is in light of events such as this that we are glad we aren't racing through New Zealand, trying to get to the bottom in record timing. Our (still challenging) 80km per day average allows us the flexibility to snatch up opportunities for exposure when the arise. We found out about the triathlon at 9:40 and it was due to start at 10 and at 11 o'clock we were on our way again, this time headed for the beautiful Lake Tutira. We really owe a huge thank you to Terry Moys for seeing the opportunity in our visit and getting the ball rolling.

Our stay in Wairoa has reminded us of how powerful that chain of events can be when we are introduced to the right channels. This was yet another success for PolioPlus and for the Journey of Hope.

By early afternoon it was stinking hot. Humidity was high and our on-bike computer registered 37 degrees. It was still overcast, which we think added to the dampness in the air and as we climbed our way up the Mohaka hill with our heads pounding and absolutely drenched we wondered what on earth we were doing - or at least we joked about it.
I think secretly it is hills like that that keep us going and of course we love the downhill afterwards. Today's downhills were particularly scenic as the swooped down through valleys and gorges.

We stopped in the afternoon for lunch number two and who should turn up but Xaver's parents? We had a picnic in a cow paddock, much to the bemusement of the cows, and got back on the bikes, ready for the final two gorges and 20 or so kilometres. Around that time the temperature dropped 14 degrees and it started to rain. In the final climbs up the winding gorges it had dropped to 18 degrees and the rain was pouring down. It made all the difference to know that the campervan was waiting for us at the campsite and that Martina was cooking dinner.

Merv Huxford from Orewa had warned us that magpies might swoop down from behind and attack our heads. In the afternoon Xaver found out what that was like as a maggie clawed his helmet while Ollie yelled at it with little effect. We then followed Merv's advice that if you put sunglasses on the back of your head they think you are watching them and won't attack. Once we realised that the maggies had gone and we just looked a bit silly we got back to wearing them properly.

We arrived and had a swim in the surprisingly warm lake. The warmth is a problem, actually, and will cause an algae bloom in the late summer making it unfit for swimming. We were grateful for the good timing and enjoyed a cold beer and warm dinner afterwards. It is always very comforting to have family around and being on the road makes us appreciate them even more. What a great evening it was for both of us.

Ollie and Xaver

 

Day 20

13 December 2010

Gisborne to Wairoa

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 101.02
Metres climbed: 896


It was a very slow start this morning as we were waiting to get a wheel back from the bike shop with half the spokes replaced. It turned out they were all damaged so we needed to replace all of them.

So, after getting ready to go we filled in the time playing pool with Cilla and Charm, deciding the true winners from last night. Ollie and Cilla made a great family team and won the most games but Xaver and Harm won the final one - the only one that really counts!

We were finally off by 12. Saying goodbye to everyone was sad as usual but we were so lucky that they could join us again. It was heads down peddling again for a few hours when we rounded the corner to see some tourists next to their campervan taking photos of us. Xaver's face lit up - Ollie was not so quick to catch on. Xaver's parents, Martina and Bernd had finally caught up to us after following most of our route in their camper.

It was a very happy reunion for Xaver and his father, who hadn't seen each other since Fenruary. Martina has been improving her English in Wellington for the last month. Ollie had got to know them both in Germany so we were all very happy to see each other.

We had over 100kms to do in an afternoon but the hills were nowhere near as bad as people had warned us. The uphills were much more gradual than the downhills, which is much easier for us.



When we got to Wairoa after our last 30, speedy, kms we were met  by Terry Moys and his wife Lynn. We threw our bikes in the truck and drove 20kms out towards lake Waikaremoana. Their peacefull country home has a river running along the bottom so the first thing we did was jump in and tire ourselves out swimming against the current. We had a great dinner with salad picked straight from their two acres of edible landscape and dessert with peaches from their trees. We were dead on our feet so we fell into bed. Both asleep before we hit the pillow.

Ollie and Xaver

 

Day 19

12 December 2010

Rest day in Gisborne
 
Today was spent eating, ready the paper, playing pool and sometimes just sitting. There was, of course, the obligatory hour or so spent in a bike shop fixing things up and this time buying new handle bar add-ons to give our wrists a rest from their usual position. Ollie is chuffed that his are the same colours as his bike and he'll be even more chuffed in the morning when he doesn't have any pain in his wrist.
 
We drove around Gisborne, exploring a few beaches and the town centre. Ice-cream was a must on the way home then we went back to tinker with the bikes and get ready for Christmas carols down at the local dairy (typical Gisborne). These were performed by the local ukulele band Ukes on Utes and they had many twists to offer to the usual tunes. This was great for Ollie especially as we won't be with his family at Christmasm, although this didn't stop us sneaking off at half-time to do some body surfing at the nearby Wainui beach. The waves were just too tempting and sunlight was running out. Xaver had a great time learning how to do it (there aren't too many waves in southern Germany) and the few waves he mastered were exhilerating.
 
We brought some pizzas back to the house and played a bit more pool - this time in teams with Cilla and Charm. People's competitive streaks were revealed but there was more laughter than anything else.
 
A good sleep and a cooked breaky in the morning should see us right for what will be a challenging ride to Napier. We are just so lucky that Cilla and Brett could make it down for the weekend and now slightly recooperated we feel sure we can handle whatever comes our way.
 
Ollie and Xaver

 

Day 18

11 December 2010

Tokomaru Bay to Gisborne
 
Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 90.28
Metres climbed: 879

 
This morning's sleep-in was disturbed by the thought that we weren't really supposed to be camping where we were. We had a contact in Toko but they weren't there, so after a bit of asking around we realised they weren't coming back anytime soon so we camped there anyway. We made porridge in a not-so-vigilantly cleaned pot from last night's dinner and subsequently had to mask the bitter taste of burnt risotto with plenty of syrup from our luxurious tinned peaches. We finally got our stuff back over the fence and went back into the town to get some water.
 
Again we were pleasantly surprised by the amazingly warm hospitality of the locals here. While the young lad at the dairy filled our bottles with ice-cold filtered water we got talking to a van-load of Maori wardens up from Gisborne, there for the opening of the local pub under new management. "Mean! Oh Too much!" she said in response to what we are doing. Those guys do a great job for the local youth and it seemed like she spoke their lingo too.
 
We had a tough morning, due to both the hills and the onset of a cold or hayfever. The thistle seed that floats through the air at this time of year is a surreal sight and much prettier than we are when it gets up our noses. We knew that we would bump into Ollie's mother Cilla and her partner Brett at some point as they had come down from Auckland to play support crew for a day and spend some time with us on our rest day in Gisborne. We were really looking forward to seeing them so we pur our heads down and peddled on - not forgetting to watch the breathtaking hills and valleys as we rode of course. The downhills are the best for that.
 
We overtook a couple from the U.S., who are cycling the world bit by bit. Their website www.hikingbikingadventures.com tells of their various adventures. She was born with emphysema (not smoking related) and so has limited lung capacity but still she is cycling and hiking. What an inspiration! She and her husband Mike joined us along with Cilla and Brett for a coffe in Tolaga Bay and we swapped stories and chatted. We then went down to the famous historic wharf for sandwiches and a wander down its enormous length. It is New Zealand's longest wharf.


 
The afternoon was meant to be easier but it wasn't. Brett's count of three hills was actually more like seven or eight and because we were headed for the house of our good family friends Digby and Charm, with all the comforts of a real house, we were not inclined to stop for trivialities such as filling water bottles. We got there tired and thirsty, but a nice cold beer soon solved half our problems.
 
One thing about cycling is that you get the full experience of the road. We have already mentioned the seed in the air but the weather is another thing. From the burning sun to the chilling rain, we get it all first hand on the bike and we really know it's happening. Our biggest focus this afternoon was wind. Unless you're driving a Fiat Punto you don't really pay much attention to the wind in a car but on a bike it's different. Up one hill we were leaning over so much into it that we could have had a wee snooze (which we didn't) and down the other side you have to concentrate on keeping everything together in case a gust hits you from the side.
 
There is never a dull day on the bikes and today was especially exciting because it signified the end of our epic tour around the East Cape and the promise of comfort and rest for a day or so. It was so good to see Cilla and Brett, and Charm and Digs as well. We sat down to an enormous roast dinner feeling very happy about things.
 
Ollie and Xaver

 

Day 17

10 December 2010

East Cape to Tokomaru Bay

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 110.93
Metres climbed: 1,320

We woke up at five and only pushed the snooze button once! It had rained a fair bit during the night so we were very happy to find a clear morning sky and streaks of red on the skyline. We left most of gear as it was and rode the six bumpy kms to the hill where the lighthouse stands.



As we came around the last corner we saw East Island and the sky was brilliant so we stopped to take a photo. As we stood there the sun peaked over the centre of the island, giving us a wonderful second sunrise as we had missed the real one. This was nearly as good. We walked up to the lighthouse and took some more photos, breathing in the fact that we had made it from the northernmost to the easternmost points of New Zealand.

Back to camp to pack up and have some porridge, followed by the return trip to Te Araroa to pick up supplies. Outside the store was a truck with about five children aged 4 to 7 on the back. We had a chat...

Girl: Hello
Ollie: Hey guys, what are you doing?
Boy: Nothing, just hanging out. Are those your bikes?
Ollie: Yep
Boy: Woah, are you a biker?
Ollie: Yeah sort of. We just road here from the far north.
Boy 2: Woah, do you live at the north pole?
Girl 2: Do you live with Santa?
Ollie: No I meant Cape Reinga.
Boy: Oh, where do you come from?
Ollie: Auckland.
Xaver: Germany, but we live in Wellington.
Boy 2: Didn't ACDC go there?
Ollie: Yeah I think so.
Kids: Ok bye.

Love it.

We had a late lunch in Ruatoria and then carried on towards Toko, as the locals call it. There were some big hills and there were no clouds to protect us but we ate more regularly than yesterday having learnt our lesson and the 111 kms ticked over smoothly - except for a broken spoke in Te Puia Springs, where we had more children asking us questions about our trip and our bikes. The people we have met here have been very friendly and the drivers are considerate too.

Back on track the last nine kms to Toko were literally downhill all the way and we cruised along the beautiful beach until we reached the place we are camping. Just had dinner with a view out over some palmtrees and the bay with a clear sky so we can see all the stars.

Xaver and Ollie

 

Day 16

9 December 2010

Te Kaha to East Cape

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 96.13
Metres climbed: 1,108


We woke up this morning to a surprisingly dry tent considering the rain we had last night. We made use of the drier that was available so that we could start the day with dry clothes. What a luxury! We met a guy on what sounded like a boot camp where they were doing all sorts of things such as hunting and fishing for 6 months. He couldn't believe what we were doing' but his schedule sounded just as gruelling as ours. A bit of porridge with nuts and we were on the road, fully expecting a day of hills.

The hills weren't too big but we hadn't eaten enough and lacked energy. We slogged along until we reached a beautiful wooden church, right on the water. A horse was tethered to the fence as her foal roamed freely. We slumped onto the grass and nearly fell asleep in the sun.

A few miles on we came to the shop where scenes from the movie boy were filmed. We were more excited about this than the girl behind the counter, but she was very nice and gave us some oil for our lunch. We bought some baked beans for backup - the can was rusting on the outside and they said best before 2002. We were tempted to keep them as a relic but needed them for dinner.

Xaver officially had the first puncture of the journey and while he fixed it Ollie left him alone without the tools to find a nice spot for lunch. Xaver eventually solved the problem with help from a passer by and we finally got a proper meal, which left us feeling sleepy but better than the morning.

As the road left the coast, the hills became mountains, the cars became scarce and the weather darkened as if by some connection to the land. As we descended from high passes down the side of valleys, our breath was taken again and again by what we saw. This is a remote and stunning part of New Zealand and we are so glad we came out here.

A milestone was reached today. After reaching Whangaparaoa, the namesake of Ollie's hometown, the clock ticked over 1000 kms for the journey so far. Thanks to one of our supporters from Leimen, just outside Xaver's hometown of Heidelberg, who have supplied us with chafing cream, we have ridden 1000 kms without sore bums. That seems to be people's first question when they meet us. Thankyou Eule's Gesaesscreme.

As we rolled into Te Araroa we quickly realised that the shops were shut and we had passed the last campground for tenting 5 or so kilometers back. We decided to keep going for another 15kms but on mainly gravel road and away from our main route. Our plan is to get up very early tomorrow and catch the sunrise at New Zealand's most eastern point - the East Cape.

As we arrived at a basic, but definitely appreciated campground, the only other inhabitants greeted us and gave us a small gift of hot water to warm our dinner and whiskey to warm our bellies. We made a concoction of mash and baked beans while the clouds and darkness closed around us - the first drops of rain starting to fall.

Ollie and Xaver

 
 
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