Monday, December 15, 2008

12/15/2008 - Grading on a Curve

Again, my early morning alarm clock was fauna-based. Songbirds today. Seriously, I think alarm clock makers actually charge for these wake up sounds.

The plan today is to head north from Helensville to Wellsford, a 38 mile journey. This follows the coast. I try not to think of how hilly the coast actually is, and consider instead that this road runs through farmland. Can't have steep farmland, right?

Not so much.

IMGP0786.JPGGet it? Grading on a curve? Oh - didn't mention that these roads were very curvy, too.

The road wound its way through (actually directly over) the steep terrain. When I could look around past my burning legs, the area was absolutely gorgeous.

IMGP0784.JPGOcean in the background. This is someone's driveway. Cattle pastures went all the way to the ocean.

Started to run out of gas at the 25 mile mark, but with some well-calculated rests, was able to make it through without incident. Noticing, however, that there is a definite shimmy in the bike when I hit higher speeds. Not sure if it is the load directly over the back wheel or the trailer.

IMGP0788.JPGYet another high point, felt like my 50th of the day, but was definitely a nice view while I was panting for breath.

About 10 miles shy of Wellsville, I pass the first bike tourist that I have seen the entire trip. He flags me down to talk. Steve is a Brit here doing a figure-of-eight of both the north and south islands. He has spent the last 3 weeks going from Wellington to the northern coast of the north island and is starting back down. He is a middle-aged guy who is very animated and friendly. He passes on some information regarding the road to Cape Reinga. It is in the midst of construction, and the last 20km is dirt. He suggests a bus tour from one of the towns - they apparently take you up there, allow you to do some sand surfing, and feed you. That also eliminates a direct trip back the same treacherous road (as there is one road heading up there).

Duly noted.

IMGP0787.JPGAt this point, Steve had already done 70km. He plans on advising anyone interested NOT to bike New Zealand due to the hills.

Big bravo to Steve - love seeing middle aged people get out and beat the hell out of me on a bike.

Rolled into Wellsville after about 6 hours of fighting the steep and the fierce headwind. There are no campgrounds in this entire area, so I settle on hotel. There are two. The first charges NZ $90 per night. When I mention my plan to be money savvy (read: cheap), she directs me to the Wellsville Inn.

I pull into the parking lot - looks reasonable. Stepping into the bar gave me a first look at threadbare carpet and worn walls. The person at the bar takes me down a narrow hallway to show me a single room. I think that it is called a "single room" because anyone living in a place like this would be single for the rest of their lives. Communal bathroom and shower, but you do get your own sink in the room. Moldy area where the mirror used to be. Early '70s ripped wallpaper. Bed feels more like a hammock. Desk with no actual chair. Two bare lightbulbs, though they did attempt to rectify that look with plastic bases on the bulbs that have pretend wax droplets. Classy.

But, for NZ $30, it's a roof and a place to keep my bike. The innkeeper's last words to me were to put my bike in my room because it would likely get stolen otherwise.

IMGP0792.JPGHome sweet mold.

I do not plan on using the sheets, top of the bed looks juust fine to me.

After a short nap, I head out to grab some food. Downtown is a little rundown, but plenty of places to eat cheaply. As is my custom, I have to try the McDonald's in every country I visit, and Wellsford was happy to oblige.

IMGP0789.JPG"The Boss" - a double quarter pounder with cheese minus the cheese. Fries taste more potato-ey than I am used to, which is nice. And yes, that is a newspaper I am reading in an attempt to look edumacated.

Note to all further travelers to New Zealand: No free refills, you pay for a full second cup.

Once back to the Hotel Mustyville, I repacked my entire trailer and picked several things that will be sent tomorrow down to Kylie, my friend in Masterton. Please, Mom and Dad, let the "I told you so"'s be gentle. I would say that this is just to fix the shimmy, but I really do want to drop some weight after today.

Off to bed, NZ post in the AM, will try to figure out whether I spend another night recovering my aching thighs or try to head north. Still having trouble finding wireless internet.

Hope I am not woken tomorrow by animals, because judging by this room, those animals would be rats.


  1. Look mom, I didn't pack any sunblock!

  2. fortunately they are on the metric system, so that 11% grade is only like 3% to us. it's science.

    plus, how do they know what a double quarter pounder is? they should just man up and serve "the kilo". that's a man's meal.

    cox, if i would have known earlier that i could post comments, i would have mentioned how gay ryan looks. like this one - nipples, skin-tight shorts, shirt unzipped... oh wait, that's not ryan...


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