So, 11 hours of very comfortable sleep later (that would be 7AM), I was awakened by the beautiful dawn and some particularly loud sheep.
View from the tent over Ambury Farm. Note the lack of smog, houses, etc. This is 5 miles from the airport.
I am excited. Please ignore the eye boogers.
I had energy and was ready to get out of Auckland. Piha sounded like just the place. It is supposed to be a beautiful town right on the beach with a campground. Surfing is huge there, and the Kiwis film a reality show similar to Baywatch due to all of the dangerous surf right on Piha Beach.
Off I go. I definitely feel every ounce of weight as soon as I hit my first uphill. The grade went directly from the shoreline up the very steep hill as I started heading out of Auckland. This hill (and several others like it) are the inspiration for today's headline. Look "plumb bob" up in Wikipedia, otherwise it doesn't make much sense.
It only took a few grades like that one to cause my thighs and legs to burn with little provocation. By the time I was halfway to Piha. the steep grades over the mountains (just a shade over 1200 feet up from the start of the day by my GPS) terrain was really killing me. I admit that I started taking "navigation breaks" and "water breaks" about halfway up each new, long, steep grade. By the time I rolled into Piha, I was pretty spent. Only 29 miles, but whoa.
The terrain between Auckland and Piha is spectacular, though.
This was about halfway up my total climb for the day. This was during yet another "GPS break" to assure that the very direct road I was on was indeed the correct one.
I did not hit 45kph. This was a nice place for early lunch, though.
Halfway to Piha, passed through a national forest, which was amazing.
This was about all of the clouds I saw all day. Not bad.
As is typical for the Kiwis, two guys on bikes (going much faster than I was, though minus equipment) pulled up next to me just to talk. Luckily, we were not at a spot where I needed to "make sure I knew where I was going".
After 26 miles of almost all uphill, the last 2 miles dropped about a thousand feet. This was somewhat more anxiety-inducing than the other direction. Managed to keep it under control, but would not have been able to stop fully.
Coming down into Piha on one of the pullouts I WAS able to stop on.
Once in Piha, I could see that it was an excellent choice. The campground was very pretty and had hot showers for $10 NZ per night. The host was helpful and loved talking about Alaska. And it was a 5 minute walk from the beach. Left my expensive stuff with the campground host and headed to the beach after making camp.
Piha beach. Not too crowded. Lots of sun for everyone.
It felt really good to lay down, even without a towel.
Just before diving in. After two close calls, however, I realized that I have no drawstring in my shorts. I abandoned further attempts at bodysurfing to spare all the kids there an inadvertant anatomy lesson.
Took a long walk to the end of the beach until I found this. Pretty scary looking water.
Once back from the beach (after several hours), I grabbed a shower and dinner (non-Kraft macaroni and cheese, a bad choice) and moved camp as a party had started up at the house opposite where I set my tent up.
Ready for bed as it is getting dark. Realized late that I had misread one of my maps - there is no road leading north out of Piha. This is unfortunate given the steepness and length of the grade coming into Piha. Not excited about this. Hope to get good sleep to strengthen those legs. . .