New Zealand 2014/15
Wednesday, December 24
Resolved. We are sending back the camping gear. For three reasons. One: weight. The extra kilos are dragging us backwards on each and every hill. Two: we don't want to camp. If we wouldn't camp at Opoutere we won't camp anywhere. Three: stability. We are top heavy. Lady CoMo can flex and fishtail when one of us shifts unexpectedly.
Going, going …
Done and dusted. Packed, posted and paid for. We are now 8.5 kg lighter. (Coincidentally, this is about the amount of weight used to handicap race horses.)
We spend Christmas Eve body surfing on Whangamata Beach. Well, at least I do.
Supper is lamb medallions with sauce, mashed potatoes and asparagus, accompanied by a Main Divide pinot noir. A Christmas decoration hangs on the palm tree outside our patio door.
Christmas Eve salad
Thursday, December 25
This is the most relaxed Christmas Day we have ever had. The day starts with a coffee on the beach. Eggs benedict for breakfast. Swimming in the pool. Back to the beach.
Deck the halls!
There is a present for Mary from Claire ad Jacob under our Christmas tree.
Oh Christmas tree
A bicycle built for two
Friday, December 26
Boxing Day and an early start. We put 7 km of climbing behind us before 9:00 am, with rolling hills between the long climbs. Traffic is light, the roads are good. We are feeling good. We are back in form for climbing. Shedding twenty pounds has re-established our momentum.
The long climbs are behind us
Downhill from here
At Waihi our decision is made. We turn inland onto highway 2. It is heavy with traffic fleeing Auckland. Lunch is at a railway station in Waikino, from which we can access a bike trail that runs parallel to the highway but on the other side of the river.
Bridge to silence
The Lonely Planet describes Karangahake gorge as "spectacular". We cannot agree. It is certainly dramatic, but it holds nothing in comparison with the Bicaz Gorge in Romania.
The trail leads to a tunnel, but we choose a walking trail around the mountain rather than the tunnel. That may not have been so clever. There is a hairpin, 180 degree turn that does not accommodate a fully loaded tandem. It took a few minutes of lifting and inching to maneuver around (with the assistance of some fellow walkers).
No room to manoeuvre
At Paeroa there is a traffic jam. The roads are now clogged with families heading to the beach. A policeman holds court at the only intersection in town. We park Lady CoMo outside a restaurant window and order a Lemon & Paeroa soft drink.
By the time we hit Te Aroha the wind and heat of the afternoon have done us in. We could not carry on to Matamata, our intended destination. A quick map check showed it was probably another 40 km, and we did not know what would be open on Boxing Day.
Te Aroha is a sleepy town at the end of a sleepy road. Our motel owner points out the thermal baths, whose water is alkaline and leaves you feeling like slip-sliding away after a hard day's ride. Very nice.
Te Aroha thermal baths
The crossbar will need another touch up.