Murchsion to Tapawera via Lake Rotoroa 97.12km 1338m Ascent. Time 7h20m. Moving Time 6h8m
At around 5am I was awoken to the clinking of Jasper’s breakfast bowl. At around 6am there was more clinking, this time it was Andy. “OK, I better get up,” I told myself and at 6:15 I did. It took me some time to get going, and I did not get away until 8am. Perhaps a little late for a Brevetter. Never mind. Today’s plan was to make it to Tapawera and if I arrived early enough then carry on to Nelson. With an 8am start Nelson was never going to happen.
I gingerly got on my bike noting the saddle rash with every pedal stroke. Off I went and it was not long until the gravel road presented itself (so much better than the hard top). Not long into the ride I was joined by the second Brevet rider, Brian I think he is called. (The leader had passed me as I slept in Murchsion). Brian kindly slowed down and chatted to me, our main topic of conversation was of course our bums! Brian told me he could only climb standing. After a while he wished me a good day and moved forward with his.
At one of the waterways on the Braeburn Track I stopped to allow a car though. The driver pulled over and engaged in a lengthy conversation. He was doing most (all) of the talking. He was about to retire, buy a campervan and travel. He was looking for a travelling companion. Although he did not ask me to be that companion, I decided not to volunteer.
I moved through Lake Rotoroa faster than sandfly speed to avoid those pesky little fellas and onwards to the Porika Track. I knew nothing about this track, and had not traversed it previously. I started my bike hike and after about 45 minutes I had progressed 1km. I consulted my map, my garmin, my food, water, time of day, and the fact I was alone with no idea as to how far behind the next rider was. By my calculations there was another 4km to the top and then I had no idea as to whether I would be able to ride the down the otherside. With the information I had available to me I made the very tough decision to turn around, walk down, ride out Gowan Valley Road and rejoin the course at Kawatiri.
Yes there were tears as I descended knowing that I was not going to complete the course in its entirity, yet I have one rule that I must adhere to, it is the golden rule and that is to come home safely, so I knew it was the right decision. That and the embarassement to myself, Scott & Jo (the organisers) if I had to push THAT button on the Spot Tracker!
My husband was later to say to me “Accidents happen very slowly in the bush”. Yes it is usually a series of poor decisions that lead to tradgedy. One which may or may not have happened if I had continued.
Towards the bottom I met the third placed Brevet rider, Seb. He enquired as to how I was and my plans. He confirmed my alternate route plan. Fortunately the tears had abated by the time of our encounter, although they may have shown as tracks down my dirt smeared face.
I stopped at Lake Rotoroa long enough to double check my course and provide nourishment for a few hundred sandflies. On reaching SH6 I took time out on the side of the road and pulled my phone out to let my husband know of my change of plans. No reception. “Oh well, he will work it out when he sees the tracking website,” I consoled myself.
At the intersection I met cycle tourist Kim from Alaska, she too was travelling to Tapawera, although via the highway not the back roads I was taking. It wasn’t long before she left me behind as I carried slowly on, my butt seeming to hurt even more. It was a struggle along the highway with cars and trucks. I was delighted to turn off and get onto the road less travelled. My mood picked up, although my bum still hurt. Seb passed me again and quiety said to me that I had made the right decision. A nice comfort from an experienced rider.
I rolled into Tapawera at 3:30 and decided to call it a day.
That night I rang Silas
“I got bad saddle rash, although the skin’s not broken yet,” I said adding “I’ve never had it before.”
“Have you done anything like this before?” Silas asked in a querlous tone.
“No,” my sulky reply
Silas promptly dealt out detailed advice of how to make the best out of a bad situation. I’m not telling you the advice, you’ll need to be a client to glean those gems.
“Can I pull out in Nelson?” I asked (shit did I say that out loud?)
“NO WAY,” the emphatic response
“So, if I pull out in Nelson you will never speak to me again?” I strategically asked.
A deadly silence came from the end of the phone. Followed by “I’ve riden for ages on many tours with saddle sores” As if to imply “toughen up b**ch – my interpretation perhaps not was meant or perhaps it was…..
“And you think,that helps me”, I sullenly thought to myself, “you’re a ffing super hero, I’m a frumpy middle aged woman,” I continued with my internal grump.
“You’ve had an easy day today, so tomorrow get stuck in,” Silas instructed.
My response “yeah it’s perspective isn’t it. Six hours use to be a long day, after 12 hour days it’s short day.” With that my sulkiness starts to dissipate.
The conversation then changed with Silas asking me if I had seen Greg Galway, another client, who had just passed Tapawera. I advised that I had seen two Brevet riders and had waved to them, although they probably wondered why the crazy woman dressed in a nightdress was waving at them.
Shortly after the conversation I started to pack my bags for the next day. Ffing awseome I found that can of whipass. I sent Silas a message informing him of the great find and that I was intending to pull it out the next day, and be damned with the sore ass.
Read the next post for Day 5