Esterbauer, the Austrian publishers of the cycling guide to New Zealand that we are using, puzzled long and hard about just how many chevrons to use to indicate the mountainous nature of the 93k’s between Te Araora and Tokomaru Bay where we ended the day. If they had been totally accurate they should have squeezed in a few more than the 22 they used, but that would have looked a cartographical mess.
The first hill of the day had us off the bikes and walking. It is the season for road resurfacing in this part of New Zealand. They are diligent in their work and as a result most of the roads have the smoothness of a well plastered interior wall. But there is a period between throwing gravel and tar at the road and it actually becoming a tarmaced surface that you or I would recognise. Time and the passage of vehicles does most of the work and then they sweep up any stuff left over.
The first and second brutal climbs were still a tarmac masterpiece in progress. We pushed up and cursed, at first enjoying the calf stretching but not for too long. Up and down the road went, the heat just went up and then went up quite a bit more.
Back at the Coffee Transit a few days ago there had been talk of what makes the best and cheapest mail box. It has to be sturdy and water tight, and if you want it to look nice then expect to pay over $100. A microwave can be bought for under $70, so the maths are simple. The microwave does not have to be in working order and the Kiwi with some DIY skills can knock up something very cheaply. Which is what they do.
Tikitiki is a very small place but it does have a cafe come bar come war memorial. Fascinating and I had no idea how much Maori soldiers had done for King or Queen or Country. St Marys church with its ornate carvings had a very long honour roll of the fallen.
We had another 50k to go as we stepped out into what was now 35*c and a load more chevrons lay ahead. Luckily I can recognise the signs of heat exhaustion even when it comes on suddenly, which it did. We had just reached a new record temperature of 36*c and all energy evaporated and I pulled over in some shade and took of helmet and glasses. Nauseous and with not very much water in the bottles things were not good.
I got the last of the water and had managed to look a little more happy with the situation and we cycled on. We carry a water filter with us. The Katadyn Pocket filter would perhaps fit in a pocket, but only one specifically made for it, and it also weighs more than a little. It’s output is unquestionably fantastic and so is it’s Swiss build quality. It saved the day, as we went off the road to a small river and filled two bottles. We picked up more water from a tap in Te Puia Springs but that had been a close call.
Tokomaru Bay, our campsite for the evening is an edgy place. We locked our bikes overnight for the first time in a while. Nice and quiet though, at least that night, but I bet things could kick off here. A short day but a stupidly big climb to start the ride to Tolaga Bay, where our bodies were telling us to take a bit of a rest and have a look at the 660 meter long pier. we are getting so much stronger, but we need to rebuild.