From one of our New Zealand correspondents.
Friday’s end of work meeting was over a little later than usual.
The 20 minute drive from the Waihopai Valley back into town gives me a chance to digest a little of the days happenings and unwind with the radio playing a piece of Faure and Bartok finshing just a few metres from home.
Garage door rolls up and I set about getting riding gear sorted for Friday nights 2 passes ride.
A well known local training loop on quiet roads .
Kit sorted I readied myself for the cool evening ride after a severe weather front was still moving over the country with snow closings roads south & north.
Wheeling the Singular Swift out with the brand new Rockshox 100mm fork, that wave of new component expectation brought a smile and an audible (Yer Baby!)
15 metres down the drive to the footpath and on to the gravel bike path then back to tarmac, heading to a variation on the usual route.
Five minutes of slight incline and I join the Mapp track after one gate stop.
The motion of the Swift quickly gives the feedback I’ve been expecting with the new fork smoothing out the front end over rough ground undulations.
Pushing harder the Mapp track joins the Old Rifle Range section, skirting under tracks that head higher up into the main mountain bike park.
Stopping in a grove of gums & wattles for a selfish 🙂 shot on cell phone.
The days light fading at 5.20pm.
The way through the remaining track gives a feeling of contentment with the day.
Exiting the track back onto the Taylor Pass Road for the climb to the pass the changing sky gives a beautiful red glow. Resting the Swift against the wire fence in thick grass the quiet of evening is making its presence felt with the sound of cows close by pulling the grass into their mouths and raising their heads as I scoot off.
Steady undulations for the next 7km leaves the tarmac for gravel.
Climbing at a steady pace a small descent through a ford with a reasonable depth of water gives a cold spray through the gap in the seat .
Another 8km of climbing see’s the pass summit. No hint of the usual beads of sweat, the slight breeze coming from the Awatere side gives the heads up this is going to be a rather cool section on tonight’s ride.
A quick bite on a QSM snackbar. Helmet light on to complement the bar light for the descent to the Awatere road.
In the summer this is a welcome relief from the heat. But this evening the windchill is icy to the core.
Passing through a section that opens out to wider vista’s the clear skies with light from the stars and moon reveals the outline of snow capped mountains.
Tapiuanuku is most visible. The mountain Sir Ed Hillary spent training on before his Mt Everest Climb.
Onto main Awatere road I set to pumping pedals at a good rate to try and generate some body heat after a 20 minute decent.
Passing by well established vineyards I cross over the main highway heading to the Redwood Pass.
Getting closer to the coast the smell of sea air is chill with the weather flow passing through Cook Straight (The Body of ocean between North & South Islands)
The usual comfortable warm gloves have met their match and a steady ache in the hands is becoming very apparent as I start climbing The Redwood.
The sound of gravel under tyres giving some relief with a bit of effort required to summit.
At the top, snack bar finished and hands inside jacket to ease the ache.
Readied for the last 7km descent and I’m away.
The other theme for the night continues with possums in abundance on the roads.
Swooping around a corner at a steady speed I intersect 2 of them during their road antics. A quick glance back seeing them running in ever decreasing circles.
Now I’m on the flat and back onto the main highway. I head the 19 minutes to the Truckstop Cafe.
Pulling up, taking kit off an elderly lady says bit cool out there mate. Before she attempts to cough a lung up while holding a cigarette.
“Yep” I reply between gasps.
Any chance of a feed? Sure she replies. Go in and make yourself self a brew. I’ll be there in a tick.
The warmth on entering was very welcome.
Sitting at the table the hot mug of tea gave the desired effect to chilled hands.
Listening to truck drivers chatting about road closures and other war stories of the storm.
A plate of bacon & eggs a pair and a “get that into ya love”.
$14 was a great price for a well cooked meal. The warmth spreading as the body welcomed this new arrival. It’s been a while since a small tin of tuna & snack biscuits for lunch.
The planned path for the last part of the ride changed for the shortest route through Blenheim.
Missing out the usual cycle paths & tracks I was entering the Taylor Pass once more. Riding the footpath before turning into our driveway I notice a heavy dew settling on the grass verge.
Words and pictures – Paul Nicholls.