A few years ago Our Rider performed one of her more impressive scenic diversions. When heading for National Park to ride me along the 42nd traverse, she found herself near Awakino, which is on the west coast. Many a person can tell the tale of missing the turnoff to the central plateau and ending in New Plymouth. But what was amazing about Our Rider’s diversion is when it was noticed that they were not where planned rather than retrace her steps, she turned on Garmin and asked it to get her and her friend to National Park. Only thing is she forgot that she had set the route mapping to “avoid main roads.” So we ventured in the dark a long lonely back country roads. An Alfred Hitchcock story waiting to unfold.
Ever since, Our Rider has been curious to see Awakino in the daylight, so a route was planned along a very remote barely used road from Marokopa to Awakino.
The day dawned with near gale force westerly winds, although to start with it was to be at my tail, which was quite fortuitous as I started up the false flat, which I came down yesterday. Although I there was no plan to re-climb the wonderous descent of yesterday (thankfully).
I noticed that despite a tail wind we were not travelling at great speeds and Our Rider’s heart rate was quite lower than she would expect it to be. Obviously the previous day’s travails had taken stock. Oh well we continued with the odd grumble and moan (I much prefer it when Our Rider sings), then the road started to go up more steeply. We caught a glimpse of the wagon where the road turned from gravel to tar seal and we pulled up alongside.
“I thought you might want to change bikes,” Biggest Fan said.
“I’ve got a better idea,” Our Rider responded. “Let’s pop TVF in the car and lie Jan on top” That’s what she said!
Well I was not going to complain about Jan being on top of me. Not one tiny bit! So I hastily jumped in the wagon as did Our Rider and we proceeded to the top of the hill. As we were uncertain as to whether the road would turn back to gravel I was the stead of choice for the descent. Lucky Lucky me:) Then I heard it, the strains of our Rider’s voice “I’m on top of the world, looking down on creation….” “woo hooo,” I sung in harmony with her as we enjoyed the long winding descent towards the turnoff to Waikawau Bay.
Gordon, the adventurous travelling bear, became exceedingly excited at this point as he knew we were going to the beach. He is a bear who travels very light, in fact the only item of clothing he takes with him is his red heart swimming trunks. So a beach is the perfect destination for him. What added to the excitement was the tunnel that required navigation to gain access to the beach.
Biggest Fan observed that this tunnel would make an excellent wind tunnel for training, with the westerly gale funnelling straight through.
Gordon was not deterred by the precipitation and lack of sunshine and enjoyed his brief moment at the beach.
Travelling back to the main road we spotted what we initially thought was a zebra. however, closer inspection revealed it to be a horse in checked not striped pyjamas.
Outside Whareorino School it was time for me to hand the pump to Jan for remainder of the journey to Awakino.
I (Jan) set off along the road with the wind at my tail and I too noticed a certain slothful style to Our Rider. “I’ll have words to her”, I muttered to myself, “she really needs a concrete pill.” We started on the next climb up and up (extremely slowly I might add) and we saw the Wagon conveniently parked. Our Rider forced herself out of the saddle and continued past the wagon with that vacant look in her eye. “Thank goodness,” I cried, with my pride intact “the concrete pill worked.” I really could not face another session in the Wagon with TVF on top!
We continued up and with every pedal stroke the gradient increased. When it hit 16% we disturbed a duck who attempted to become airborne while waddling up hill! I discovered that Our Rider propels me at duck waddling speed! My pride took a severe dent.
After what seemed an eternity in hell we finally made the summit and down we went and down some more and more again. Down to the River, Down to the River we’d ride (good old Bruce Springsteen). It was a real shame about the head wind.
We made it to the state highway for the last 5kms to Awakino. Where we discovered that the valley we traversed provided some protection from the wind’s full fury, which was unleashed directly on our heads. It seemed more likely that we would end up in Te Kuiti (the opposite direction from Awakino) and with Biggest Fan looking concerned we turned around and headed back up the valley to another pleasant evening listening to the storm rage at the Fern & Fossil.
So despite our best attempts, Our Rider has still to see Awakino in the daylight.