Merry Christmas all! As I’m writing this post to you all, it’s actually Boxing Day over here in NZ. As you’ve probably seen, I managed to get some blog posts as well as some pictures up on the ole Internet for you all as a Christmas present. I’ve had the good fortune of finding myself in Auckland for Christmas day, and as a result, I was able to rudely impose yet again on the kindness of the Friesens. I tell you what, it certainly made my Christmas a little merrier over here, seeing as I’m all on my own. I even got to partake in a proper Christmas feast, rather than just another microwave meal with some sides that I prepare myself in a hostel. I’ve put together a little map of my ride yesterday, along with some pictures as always, so feel free to check those out. If you care to, I’ll also spin another little yarn about the days ride. Read on.
I awoke at about 6am to the sound of… nothing! Yup, I actually managed to avoid getting rained on overnight. This truly was a Merry Christmas for me, since I would likely be able to put the tent away dry for a night. This is a big deal to the touring cyclist. I decided to nap a bit more, and stayed in my silk coccoon until 8am. I’d been up till 2am the night before, when a group of Germans and myself stayed up and celebrated Christmas with a few bottles of beer and wine. Nothing too crazy, just hanging out. It was pretty fun. Once up, I moved around pretty slowly. The sky was quite grey, so I did have some concerns that it might start raining any second. So, I put everything in dry bags to get ready for the ride. I ate my breakfast of yogurt and a giant scone, and was on the road just around 10am
The first part of the ride was great. I had been told to avoid the SH1 highway, but since it was Christmas Day, I took my chances. As it turned out, things really weren’t that bad. If anything, the traffic seemed to be just a little bit more couteous today. That was fine by me. A day when people aren’t trying to run me off the road is a good day for sure. Not far down the road, the road did start getting a little more hectic, as I was heading towards the main part of the motorway, which I believe is the only divided multi-lane road in all of New Zealand. Bikes are prohibited from using it though, so I needed an alternative road. Problem was, I really had no maps at all of this region all the way back into Auckland. Luckily, there are gas stations, so through a combination of asking questions and sneaking peeks into road atlas books for sale, I pieced my route together back to Devonport. I only made one little flub. However, this has taught me something else. I’ve decided to ditch some of my books to trade instead for a compact road atlas, as it will be the most useful. My new reference section will consist of my two Peddlar’s Paradise books, my Lonely Planet New Zealand book, and an atlas. I’m getting rid of Cycling New Zealand by LP and Tramping NZ by LP.
Once I got to Devonport, it was a short ferry ride across the harbour, then about a 13-15km ride to Kevin’s house. As I waited for the ferry, the skies got more grey, and the wind started picking up a bit. I decided to put the covers on my bags and throw on the rain jacket just in case. However, spirits were high, as I was almost back at my start point, where I could purge all my weight, and catch up on a few things. As I rolled off the ferry in Auckland, the wind had really picked up, and it started just a few drops of rain. I started the final push, and was in fairly high spirits. Then it REALLY started getting stormy. I’m talking massive winds and super hard driving rain. I was soaked to the bone in no time flat. It was by far the worst weather I’d biked through yet, and that’s saying a fair bit. I couldn’t help but laugh about it. Instead of a snow storm, I had a massive rain storm. Oh well, at least I got precipitation of one sort 🙂
While I was biking along Tanaki, a car honked at me and pulled over up ahead. How odd. The even funnier thing was when I saw who it was. It was Greg, Elaine, and Greg’s dad just driving home. This was a one in a million encounter, but lead to a very generous offer. I was invited over for Christmas dinner at the Friesen’s. Now, I’m not kidding when I say that it was never my intention to impose on anyone for Christmas. But after the crazy rain storm and everything else, I could think of nothing better to do, so I graciously accepted. This made the rest of the ride a little more enjoyable.
Once at Kevin’s, I set about trying to clean up my gear, and sorted laundry, etc. Today, I’ve also done my purge, and have probably gotten rid of up to 10 lbs. of weight, which is fantastic. We had a great Turkey dinner last night, and capped the night off with an exciting round of Cranium, WOW edition. There are new challenges in this one, like team spelling, and a puppetteer style game that you have to move someone like a puppet, and team-mates have to guess what it is. That was a lot of fun, and I’m extremely grateful for the warm hospitality I’ve received while in Auckland. Thanks for much Friesen family.
Today we’re off to the wickets for a full day of Cricket. NZ vs. Bangladesh. I’m fortunate again in that they had a spare ticket for the corporate box, where we’ll be sitting in the lap of luxury, including food and beverages. Pretty nice way to spend a day off isn’t it? After this, I’ll be heading off to the Coromandel peninsula, and from there, hopefully heading towards Rotorua, where I hope to be around New Year’s. It’ll take me 2 days to reach Coromandel, then probably 3-5 days to get to Rotorua. Stay tuned for plenty more exciting stories from the road! Till then, have a safe and happy Holiday season.