Another Day, A Lot More Hills!

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Okay, so another day of biking is in the hole. I crammed in an astonishing 76km into this day, trying to make up a little percieved lost time, but have decided that I can’t really make up any lost time. There are just far too many biking challenges up in these parts. After a heavenly sleep in Helensville, I slept in until 8am. I had a 7am alarm, but when it went off, I was soooo cozy, that I opted to bump it by an hour. It was a good call. When I finally got up, there was a nice breakfast basket waiting for me in the common area. Two yogurts, two little bags of cereal, a banana, a kiwi, and some bread and jams. Talk about a power breakfast. I ate it all save the Kiwi. I also had some extra groceries from the night before, and decided to just take them with me as road snacks. Read on for more about torture day #2.

After consulting various maps and guides, I still had no idea where I would end up this day. There were no BBH hostels in the range I was hoping for. There was one, but it was a bit too close, and the next closest one is still another many kms from where I write this. SO where am I? Kaiwaka. Not really mentioned in any of my books, but it had a hotel, right when I needed it. I saw another massive hill looming, and just didn’t have it in me after 6 hours of struggling through the hot day. It was also already 5pm again, and on Sunday, everything closes up early, so if I didn’t stop, I might not get fed, and that simply wouldn’t do. Anyway, I guess I should rewind a bit.

Helensville. Yup, left there around 9:20 with high hopes. I’d been warned that I’d have a challenging day, but looking at various profiles, I certainly saw a few big climbs topping out over 200m, but that didn’t look that bad on paper. How wrong could I be. Once again, when you factor in a 70lb load, all conventional biking wisdom flies out the window. Also, pain is amplified, and I’m already battling a bad knee on my left leg which has me concerned. I guess tomorrow I may have to start my pain medication already 🙁 I’d hoped to avoid Vitamin I for as long as I could, but this is just too difficult.

What else can I really say? Well, the scenery is certainly beautiful, and I’ve seen lots of cows, sheep, dogs, chickens, etc. It certainly is true that once you’re out of Auckland, things get rural very fast. However, seeing as I’m not that far out of Auckland, it seems as though all the Aucklanders were out for scenic drives up the coast. The roads were total shit. Too many aggressive cars, crazy motorcyclists, and huge trucks for a wee lad from Canada used to a nice wide shoulder. By the end of the day, I was secretly wishing they’d all crash. Terrible thought I know, but the amount of effort I had to put into each km was just that great. I swear what would take them 10 minutes to do could take me up to 1.5 hours! My average speed today was a measely 13km/hr. I’m not going to get anywhere that way. If this post sounds a little negative, it’s just my current state of mind.

Let me put the day in perspective. I got up early, packed up my gear, then hit the road. I spent the entire day battling my body, my bike, my trailer, and the traffic in the searing heat. At the end of the day, my reward was a roadside hotel which cost me 50 NZD. I’m all alone, and sitting in my room writing this post. My knee is in searing pain, and I just looked at some upcoming ride profiles. Tomorrow will be relatively okay, then the day after that, I have a climb easily twice as high as any I’ve done!!! I was expecting some kind of truly zen-like experience, but I just haven’t gotten it yet. Now, I was warned this was the toughest biking in all of NZ, but it’s really getting me down. I’m seriously contemplating ditching the bike when I return to Auckland, buying or borrowing a backpack, and doing the rest by bus / hitching. After all, I’m supposed to be here enjoying the trip, not suffering the whole way. That wasn’t the goal. The notion of biking it is very romantic, but it’s just not practical.

Okay, I know, my tone sucks. It’s only day 4 in a row of biking, only two of which have had a load, but just try to picture it in your mind, then make it about 5 times harder. I’m no wimp, and I don’t give things up, as anyone who knows me can attest, but this is wearing me down. By the time you read this, I’ll proabably have more posts, and things may change, so who knows. One thing for sure, I’m definitely paring more weight down in Auckland. Everything that can be jettisoned will be. I’m also going to investigate more destination biking, not biking to bike. After all, with these efforts, I just have no time to do anything but bike. Maybe I’ll do 1/2 and 1/2. Bike the North Island, backpack the South Island. Nifty idea. I’ll hold on to that for now.

Now where was I? Oh, does it really matter. I think you’ve got the idea how the overall day went. You can check out my map to see the journey of pain. Weather was good again today, but they’re calling for rain over the next couple days. Ha ha. Can’t wait to see what that does to my spirit ;-). Anywho, I’m off to re-pack my things, so that I’m set to go early tomorrow morning. I’m also planning a strategy where I take a full hour off in the middle of the day to rest. I think what I really need is some more substantial human contact as well. The last 2 nights have been very solitary, and although writing this out is therapeutic, talking to other people would help. Sadly, Internet is still pretty much non-existent to me. Hopefully when I hit somewhere with a population of more than a couple hundred, I’ll find something. Good night people. Rest easy in your cozy winter wonderland!

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