Ah. What can I do? My bike is in for repairs, leaving me unfortunately stranded in one of the most popular summer destinations in New Zealand. Fate, how you mock me!
Up early, finishing out the last of my muesli with banana and coffee.
Part of a well-balanced breakfast and proof that I do actually eat fruits and vegetables here.
It is, of course, sunny and delightful. I am to pick up my bike at around noon, giving me some time to read and figure out what delights Mt. Maunganui has in store. In fact, it has a mountain, which will be part of what I do today - a hike/run to the top sounds good, followed by a dip in the ocean and maybe laying on the sand. I also will be talking to David Nixon, the head of the Masterton clinic where I will be working starting in March, but that is not until around 8:30PM.
I end up at the bike shop on time and pick up my bike. The young guy there appears to have done a really nice job - has trued both wheels, replaced and adjusted the brakes, re-indexed the rear derailleur (which ended up requiring adjusting the derailleur hanger), and tightened up several parts of the bike that North Shore Avanti apparently missed. He also added the missing bolt to the brakes, a key part of keeping them working. All of that was less than NZ$100, even with parts.
As soon as I take it for a test ride, though, I find that the chain slips, something it has been doing off and on when I really put some torque on the crank. The guys there took the time to try replacing the rear chain and cassette (rear gears) and rode with me to see what it was doing. Finally figured out it was the middle front gear which has worn enough that the chain slips. (This happened yesterday when I tried to power ahead of a semi truck in some construction and the chain just slipped completely, with the resultant shock causing my GPS to break off and hit the pavement. The truck driver was great, stopped completely and allowed me to pick it up before continuing on his way with a wave, but could have been a bad thing.)
The cost for a new front chain ring is more, unfortunately, but was definitely worth it. After many thanks for all their time (it took about two hours with shifting parts off and on the bike and testing it), I ride off with a practically new bike. Seriously, the thing has more than 50% new parts since it broke up in Kaitaia.
Back to camp for a quick change and to grab my day pack, leave my important stuff with the campground host, and head out the 3 miles or so to Mt. Maunganui.
The town goes from residential (where I am staying) to total holiday resort town, with wide avenues and white sand beaches, moderately pounding surf, a few highrises, and lots of shops.
Coming into Mt. Maunganui (the holiday part of the town). I am wearing entirely too many clothes by the apparent beach standards.
I find the trail up the mountain (practically a highway by Alaska standards), lock up my bike, and head out.
I think this trail is actually bigger than the road my GPS tried to take me on a few days ago. This is getting toward the top.
Weather is definitely on the muggy side, but tolerable. The summit is at about the height of the Butte near Palmer, Alaska - from now on to be known as Mt. Butte.
Who am I? Hint: Add a crown of thorns. I really need to hit the weights.
Despite me making fun of the term "mountain" in this case, the views really were spectacular.
Looking toward Tauranga, about 7km away or so. The tide is really moving - the sailboats are trying to head against the tide and are basically at a standstill.
The town of Mt. Maunganui, a tourist's wet dream according to the travel guides.
Back down the path, running when it is not too steep. It's so hot - what can I possibly do? Ah, yes.
Yet another knock to my Alaska friends, currently kickin' it in -15 deg weather - the water is warm and fantastic.
Also perfect for body surfing, even though this picture looks more like I am disembodied head surfing.
Wander the beach for awhile and talk to a guy by a bunch of volleyball nets. He and several other Californians are here for international beach volleyball competitions tomorrow. They are all practicing on the beach. Hard life.
I took this picture purely to educate and inform. Hard bodies and skimpy bikinis had NOTHING to do with this.
Eventually, wash off at the beach shower and make my way back to camp after picking up dinner.
A chill bike ride through the wide, slow avenues along the beach. Made slightly more dangerous by my attempts at picture taking while riding.
Make up some Turkish flatbread and stew. About halfway through, the people next o me invite me over. Really nice people, and lively. I am plied with prawns and champagne, and we all kick back and talk. There is a definite interest in art, and I get to brag on my mom a bit. They end up showing some great work.
Jill (on the left) is the founding member of sandywalkers, which is an organization dedicated to keeping highrises out of nice beaches. Check it out at sandywalker.org - she did the picture of the penguin there.
I would stay later, but 8:30 rolls around and I need to talk to David, so off I go. After a long and excellent conversation (I am quite excited about working there in Masterton) I finally turn in. Tomorrow, am headed to Rotorua, between 45 and 50 miles away. But with a tuned-up bike.