Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mostly Cloudy. Long Flat Roads. Te Aroha.

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There's nothing like a good night's sleep, and I've had nothing like a good night's since I've been on the road. I'm not sure that the Thermarest and I are cut out for each other. A couple of more tries and it will be time for a good hotel (or at least a clean cabin).

The Miranda Hot Springs campground is as clean and nicely kept as ever (as long as you don't have to stay in the Dog section). I had a nice quite shady spot under a tree, complete with a picnic table that I dragged over from an empty site--at least until a couple of Swiss cyclists camped next to me and commandeered it while I was taking a shower. They have bikes with panniers.

From MirandaHotSpr...

It is nearly twice as efficient to tour as a couple, rather than solo. Most of the load is shared. Basically, only clothes and sleeping bag, which are light, are the only things which are duplicated. I'm not doing the next tour, wherever it is, without you (It's either that or credit card touring).

When I got up this morning and was going over to the office, to get some yogurt from the camp store, there was a trio of motorcycles, packed for touring, outside one of the rooms, BMW 1200GS and two Honda Transalps. I didn't meet the riders, but they passed me heading south, this morning.

From MirandaHotSpr...

I rode from Miranda to Te Aroha, which turned out to be almost 82km (this includes the 5km detour when I misinterpreted the map and didn't realize the road turn-off I was looking for was actually on the other side of a bridge and it includes the 6km ride back to Te Aroha for food, since I forgot the campground was so far out of town).

The day was quite warm and humid, but it was mostly cloudy, which kept the radiant temperature down (and kept the roads from melting). I dressed quite a bit lighter today as well, wearing just my ventilated hi-viz riding shirt, rather than the New Zealand Merino one I'd worn the past couple of days (duh, no wonder I was dying). The ride was mostly on very flat roads through the Hauraki Plains. It is mostly cattle country with a bit of corn, for the cattle I expect.

From MirandaHotSpr...
From MirandaHotSpr...

Aside from the cows, about the most interesting event was the hare in the road. (I don't count going the wrong way interesting). I was riding along and there was a hare loping up the road in my direction. It didn't notice me until I was almost on it, at which point it hopped off the road and continued in the same direction, only much faster. As I was moving at about 20kph, it ket running, faster and faster until it about doubled my speed, but always in the direction I was traveling.

When it was far enough away (in its mind), it would stop until I got closer and then it would tear off again in the same direction, up the road and parallel to it. This continued for about 2km until we reached an irrigation ditch where it finally bore off away from the road.

The ride was about 25km more than I had estimated and about 35km m ore than my legs really wanted. At least the roads were flat until the last 15km and it stayed mostly cloudy. I had hoped to stop at a dairy or takeaway for lunch and kept looking at my AA map for places (yellow dots) that seemed like towns, but they were all just yellow dots on the map.

Fortunately, I had stopped at a dairy at the end of the road from Miranda and picked up an extra 1.5 liter bottle of water and I sure was glad to have it. I went through just about all of it before I reached the next store, just outside of Te Aroha, where I was able to guzzle down a sports drink, have a sandwich, and a cookie before going the last 10km to the campground.

So far, the riding has been very different from the North Island and it seems that it will get even more different. On my South island ride, I could count on finding a tea room or dairy or at least a petrol station every 25km or so, so I had a chance to rest and refuel. I think that because it is so much more crowded on the North Island and and there is more traffic, the small spots (yellow dots) that would have had a store have disappeared and people just drive to the bigger towns.

In looking at the map, trying to plan a route that has days that are not to long, but still end with a campground or hostel (none yet), I haven't been able to find short routes. The campgrounds and hostels are completely clustered in tourist areas, where there was always something, even in the smaller towns on the South Island (maybe it is generally more rural touristy).

After I got to the Te Aroha Holiday Park and set up my tent, I had to return to the town, about 3km away, to get some food as there were no shops nearby, not even the most rudimentary camp shop. By the time I got back to town, it was after 4pm. I stopped and got some fruits and veges at the local Fruit & Veg, by-passed the butcher and went to the Woolworths supermarket. I wanted to get more groceries and some meat to make a curry (from a can), but the Woolworths only sold portions that were much to large (my refrigeration is non-existent, so saving any is out). I got my other groceries and headed back to the butcher only to find that the main street in Te Arhoa closes at 5pm (it being 5:05 at that point).

I had an onion, a carrot and a packet of tuna, so dinner was carrot and tuna roganjosh.

Tomorrow it's off to Matamata, a town I don't think we've stopped in before, but it is a much shorter ride.

Here's today's album, not very interesting:

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