Monday, February 11, 2008

Slippery Start. More Big Hills. Disappointing finish.

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Today, I had the choice of Waihau Bay at 25km or Hicks bay at 70km, with hills. I could have never made it to Hick's Bay. It is beginning to get abit discouraging as the hills are getting harder to climb and I don'tthink that they are getting any steeper.

After last night's rain, it started out pretty muggy. The Maraehako Bay Retreat was right at the waterfront down a steep driveway, about thesteepness of our driveway on Waiheke (a 35% grade). Getting down yesterday wasn't bad, after two years of practice, but getting the bicycle and trailer back up was another story. The concrete was smooth and wet. I could barely go a step ata time without stopping to keep from slipping as well as move the weight of bike and trailer.

By the time I got to the road, I was absolutely drenched with sweat. It was the first time I had to stop and rest. Now that I was at the top, it was down the hill to the stream and then up the first hill of the day.This was repeated several times. There was a good section of flat road near the end of the ride. One more hill to go over and I was in Waihau Bay. The holiday park was about 5km further on at Omaio Beach.

There were a couple of camp sites beside the hotel at Waihau Bay. I probably should have stayed there. This is not one of the best I've stayed at., but I was seduced by the latte sign At least the showers are clean. It seems that the campgrounds out here on the cape are much more rudimentary than those closer to civilization. If there is a place to sit in the kitchens, you are lucky. The grounds are fairly nice with lots of big old trees, but there are quite a few permanent caravans and they are spread out all over the camp, so there doesn't seem to be a nice quiet area. I've actually snuck onto the porch of an unused rental cabin that has a table and chair to write this.

I actually started it by going over to the "cafe" and store at the entrance to the camp. I bought a soft drink and went out to the deck where the tables were. Unfortunately, the worse of Maori society was there, and they run the store; four very fat ladies and an even fatter man (reminded me of my brother Jeff only with a bigger pot belly). They had their backs to the tables in a rather grimy corner and were sitting around smoking and scraping out the dregs of those big tubs of ice cream that they sell cones from. It was most unappealing. I figured it was time to leave when the man and one of the younger women, his partner I expect, started loudly going on about their lack of sex.

Thank goodness for the scenery on my ride or that might have been the highlight of my day. I'm beginning to think that much of the East Cape may be best appreciated from a car window.

The other highlight was doing laundry when I arrived here. My riding clothes were so sweaty and grimy that they wouldn't even dry overnight (and that's only since Opotiki). It's been so warm that the only riding shirt I can wear is my ventilated LL Bean yellow one. It has gotten so stained that I can't get it clean and the back will probably have faded to white by the time I finish my tour. Everywhere else I've been the washers and dryers were $2. Here they are $4. Add in $2 for detergent and it was $10 to wash a half load of laundry--and that included throwing in my towel and sleeping sheet for good measure.

It is getting cloudy again, but coming from the opposite direction from last night. I hope it doesn't rain, as I'd really like to get a very early start tomorrow. The Lonely Planet guide lists two moderate climbs and one hard climb (all between 1 and 3km) between here and Hick's Bay and If I want to get to the Te Araroha Holiday park (where Ellen and I stayed last time around the Cape), there is a final 2.7km hard climb.

Then there are 3 short, but tall, hard climbs to get to Tikitiki on the next leg. I wonder where I can catch a bus? I am really beginning to wonder if I can make it to Gisborne. And the climbing to get to Napier is even harder than the Cape.

Amazingly, I already gone 592km, about half the length of the South Island, so I am on about the same pace, but I don't know how long I'll be able to keep it up this time. Part of it, I think, is that it isn't the same when you've already come this way, even by car. maybe it is that the East cape route, while beautiful, is otherwise uninteresting.

Today's Photos:

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