Day 17: First big(ish) ride down the coast of NZ

[note:  written yesterday, but posted today due to a VERY SAD internet connection at my last hotel.]

Bicycling/cycling is my primary source of cardiovascular exercise.  Practically speaking, what this usually means is 45 to 60 minutes on either a stationary bike in the gym or a spinning class.  When I am able to get out on my road bike, it’s often for rides of 20 to 25 miles.  I view them as workouts for than cycling expeditions.  Given this, I knew that I might be in a little bit of trouble on this bike trip…

Today, I started at Punakaiki and followed the coast, passing through Greymouth at the half-way point, and finally reaching my destination of Hokitika.  The total ride was about 52 miles, double to what I normally do.  The first half of the ride was moderate hills, with a total elevation gain of about 1,100 feet.  It frankly felt pretty good, though I was not complaining about the lunch break.  The second half was supposed to be a quick little flat Earth 26 mile jaunt to the final destination.  It started that way until about one third of the way in, 10-15 mph headwinds made a lovely appearance and stayed with me to the bitter end.  

In reading routs ahead of time, I tend to focus on how hilly it will be and what is the total elevation gain.  This makes some sense as going up a hill can be challenging.  However, the other truth of going up a hill is that inevitably you get to go back down it again.  This makes most hill climbing a bit like interval training:  suffer for a period of time and then get a nice break.  Headwinds, on the other hand, have no redeeming qualities unless you have the dumb luck of going in the opposite direction.  A headwind can stay with you and simply not go away — and there really sin’t a downhill-esque part to it.  

Said differently, it was a surprisingly challenging ride that kicked me in the you-know-where.  The good news is that my legs were fine.  I had enough energy there to keep going.  The bad news was what I was somewhere concerned about:  my derriere and shoulders were completely put-out by the whole experience.  I’m told that the only way to avoid these unpleasantries is to put in lots of road hours.  Well, it looks like this trip will get me there!  

   Western New Zealand coast line:  reason enough to climb a little hill...

Western New Zealand coast line:  reason enough to climb a little hill...

One must wonder why anyone would subject themselves to this kind of a beating, and the answer in this case is simple.  New Zealand is really beautiful.  Today started with a view of what is called the pancake rocks, so-named for obvious reasons.  They are so-formed due to unique layers of limestone sandwiched between harder rock.  The wind and salt spread wear down the limestone layers creating the look of a stack of pancakes.  Of course, there was a little breakfast spot right across the way happily capitalizing by selling their own pancakes.  Clever entrepreneurs!  

Most of the scenery from the road to Hokitika looked like this:  green fields leading up to a beautiful coast line.

   The Pancake Rocks.  Kind of reminds me of the stone men from Easter Island.

The Pancake Rocks.  Kind of reminds me of the stone men from Easter Island.

Finally, there was the arrival into the little beach town of Hokitika, which reminded me of a small North Carolina beach town, except this one had a whole bunch of shops peddling jade trinkets.  

   The now small (population 5,000 vs. 50K in gold rush days) Hokitika beach town

The now small (population 5,000 vs. 50K in gold rush days) Hokitika beach town

I’ve got a bigger ride tomorrow.  Yikes…

Cheers,

Dave

p.s., almost forgot.   Today was Thanksgiving (one day ahead of the US).  We had 14 Americans in our group and nary a piece of turkey to be found anywhere.  Not a Kiwi thing.  However, once very excellent member of our group brought these very suitable substitutes for everyone.  And this piece of turkey didn't make me fall asleep watching the Detroit Lions.  

   Thanks for bringing these Susan!  

Thanks for bringing these Susan!