According to every piece of information I can find, the next 2-3 hours of biking should be some of my toughest on the trip. I love to have a goal, and my goal is the top of the gorge some 10 miles away. Up at 6AM, push off at 6:50 after a full breakfast of muesli, a banana, and a liter of milk. No music, just The Gorge and me.
Not much shoulder on these roads. Figure wearing reflective gear may be beneficial with regards to my appearing as an involuntary logging truck hood ornament. This was taken just before heading out.
The first 5 miles were a steady but easy climb. Scenery was quite nice.
Sun just getting to this part of the gorge - has a bit of a Braveheart look, I think.
Maybe the lady at the i-site was right, I though. If I camped at halfway, I just have to climb to 1200 feet and I am done. Easy!
One thing about gorges. At some point, if you are going up one, you have to climb out of it. With 5 miles to go, it got steep.
The good thing is that it was not as steep as Piha (my real example of "steep"), just much longer.
Getting higher, but the close-appearing hilltops really lie to you as every corner shows you higher hilltops.
Looking back toward one of the hills approaching the top. It has been given a nice shave by the sheep.
At last, after two or three turns that all LOOKED like the top was in sight, I came around to the pass at 2,366 feet from sea level (Opotiki was at sea level). Came up 1800 feet in about one and a half hours.
Sweet. I am alternately sweating from the exertion and shivering from the gusts up here - it's kind of chilly this morning. "They get SNOW up there sometimes!" the overenthusiastic i-site lady had informed me excitedly.
I am actually a little impressed that our family did this same ride (though from Opotiki through the entire gorge) back in 1985. It was pretty darn rough.
The Waioeka Gorge in 1985 - the guy in the apparent stormtrooper helmet is my dad changing a tire. Knee-high socks were apparently ALL the rage back then - oh, baby!
The view down the other side was fantastic.
At last, gravity comes to bat for me. Looking down from the top.
Easily zipped down the road. The new brakes really help in that regard. Roads are a little damp, but not slick.
I also am looking for a house as I go, the abode of Karl and Bronwyn who owned a sheep ranch and took us in back in '85 for two days (as it had been getting dark and there was no place to camp). Alas, I can't find it.
Have you seen these people? Karl, Bronwyn, and the kids in 1985. For some reason, I don't have their last name, which makes it a little harder when checking out the white pages. They let us stay in the sheep shearer's shack and we innoculated a flock of sheep with something, but mostly got to herd sheep, which is quite a powerful feeling when you're seven years old.
Stop for coffee in a small cafe another 6 or 7 miles on. Ask the lady at the counter if she knew Karl and Bronwyn. Sure enough, she did. They have since moved to Opotiki and their last name is Ellmers. I love small towns. Will look them up later when I am working. They really were kind to us.
On I went, up one more steep climb of about 400 feet. The next 30 minutes, though, were pure biking zen. All shallow downhill for about 10 miles, with almost no need to pedal or touch the brakes. Came down from 1800ft to 500ft elevation before any hill climbs. I would drive back up and bike down that section again.
No, THIS looks more like Braveheart.
Grabbed lunch around 1:30PM, just 17 miles from Gisborne.
Wine country along with a picture-inducing red barn.
Unfortunately, these last miles were marked with a fierce headwind, so I fought to keep 10mph on these flats. At this point, I was right at sea level. At last, around 3PM, pulled into Gisborne - a very tidy and picturesque little town. Found the youth hostel where we would have stayed back in '85, but they have moved it to another house and didn't have camping, so I found a nice campground right on the beach.
A real event in Gisborne, worthy of about 20 people taking pictures - Moving a house by trailer.
It has been a 65 mile day today and about 2400 feet of climb (and descent). I am celebrating by sitting on the beach with the computer doing my best impression of a well-known beer commercial without the actual beer. May have to remedy that situation.
Have set up a bus to Masterton for tomorrow, an all-day affair. Looking forward to seeing where I am going to spend at least 6 months of my time, as well as seeing Kylie and Kipp Vannaman and meeting David and the staff at the clinic. Should be fun!!