Late Start, Longest Day and Hot Springs

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27/12/07
Hi all. I hope everyone had a good Christmas and Boxing Day. I don’t know about anyone else, but as for me, the day after Boxing day it was basically back to work. I left the comfort of Auckland and hit the high road. My goal was to get up and basically leave as soon as I could, since I had mapped out a fairly long day of biking, clocking in at around 90km including some rather large hills along the way. However, as with the best laid plans, things don’t always go as planned. I was fairly effective the night before in sorting my gear out, but I hadn’t fully packed it, leading to a bit of a delay in getting out the door. Read on for the rest of the day, and check out the map.

One of the main reasons for my delay was related to the fact that I absolutely had to get a new chain for the bike. After two days of troubles, I knew it was not going to be very long before I had some serious problems. The day before, we had scoped out a bike shop near the Friesen’s house, which opened at 10am. That was my destination. I had hoped to be pretty much ready to go before that, so I could do what I needed to the bike, then be gone. Before that however, I invited Hollie and Kevin out for breakfast, which was just a little thing at a cafe. I had a great little pie as usual, and a little square. We ate these by the water at St. Helliers, which was quite nice.

On the way to the bike shop, I also brought my bottle of fuel, in order to return it for a refund. When I got to the gas station, they initially weren’t very amenable to this proposal, However, with my charming good lucks and great attirtude, I did eventually get the man behing the counter to exchange me my fuel bottle for a 10NZD BP coupon, which I could use in the future for anything. Of course, I already knew what I wanted. A good atlas, but they didn’t have one.

Anyway, off to the bike shop, where I again had to use my Jedi powers in order to convince the people there that they should allow me the use of their tools and repair stand in order to tune up my bike and install a new chain. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I spent about 75NZD there on the chain, some lube, and some grease. I even got them to throw in some rags for me. I tell you, I must be one charming fellow, because he said they don’t normally allow anyone back in the shop. Hee hee. Goes to show you what begging and the charm offensive can accomplish.

After the tune-up, I raced back to Kevins, and had to repack a few things before finally hitting the road. Sadly, it was almost noon already. Oh well, no time to waste, I put foot to pedal and got to work. It actually seemed to be going quite well. The dropping of weight turned out to be a massively great thing. I definitely had a little bit of extra power, which was a welcome thing. At one point,still in Auckland, I was a little turned around, but then I saw a BP gas station. Perfect timing, I rolled in, found a nice road atlas, and was on my way. Huzzah.

The road I was travelling on was pretty decent, although there were definitely some large hills to conquer in this day, as you can see by the overall ascent in my map. As the day wore on, it got later and later, but I was still making good time. My only concern was the fact that I didn’t have a place to lay my head for the night. I hadn’t been able to find any hostels enroute. However, there was a campground near where I was hoping to end up. Not only that, but it boasted Hot Springs. Hmmm. Intriguing, I just hoped they would have a tent site left for little old me.

Once I got closer to the Firth of Thames, I saw the reason I was doing this route. After coming down from one of the large hills, I saw a beautiful site. Lots of hills, and lots of water. And a windy road to lead me around it. Cool. As I was starting to get tired, I came across a German couple who were sitting in the grass admiring the view. They looked pretty worn out, and I stopped to chat with them. As it turned out, they were heading where I was heading, but they had started further back than I had. But it was their first day on the bikes, and I truly felt for them. I told them not to despair, and that whatever they were feeling, I had already gone through it, so I knew things would turn around for them. They had actually made a reservation at the camground for a room, and said if I was totally stuck, I could bunk with them. Cool. However, I told them I hoped to get my own place, and so I took off down the road, leaving them to rest a bit longer.

By the time I rolled into Miranda Holiday Park and Hot Springs, my odometer read almost 100km! It was my longest day to date, but I still felt relatively good. However, due to the late start, I didn’t actually get to the park till almost seven. As luck would have it, there was one tent site left in the campground, just for me. The price was 19NZD, but that included use of the kitchen, a TV lounge, the hot springs pool, etc. etc., so it really wasn’t bad. Also, since it was so nice out, I decided to try my tent in its other configuration, as a FastFly, where you just set a groundsheet, the poles, and the fly. It’s a breezy way to sleep, and only recommended when there are no bugs. Lucky for me, there weren’t too many bugs to worry about.

After my shower, I ran into the other couple, who had successfully finished their day, we sat together for a while, as they ate their supper of takeaway food. They were even kind enough to offer me a beer, which I gratefully accepted. We made plans to hit the hot springs just a little bit later. The pool was quite nice. It wasn’t super hot, but still quite warm and relaxing. Looking back on the day, I decided that ditching the weight was a very good idea. The hills didn’t seem quite as bad, and my average speed seems to have gone up by about 1km/hr, which is huge to me.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m a day behind in my posts, and want to write about the next day too! Take care all.

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