Thursday, 28 March 2013

HAWKES BAY - Havelock North to Waipawa (50km)

A new day has dawned, I've stretched, had a good breakfast and I'm now eager to ride off into another beautiful day and what that day beholds.

As I was reading the ride notes in conjunction with my GPSies map which incidentally gives altitude range, total climb, total descent, as well as distances between objects e.g. hills, one sentence caught my eye, 'you will cycle one significant hill climb prior to Patangata so be prepared to exert some extra effort on this section'. I checked it on the map, nothing we haven't done before, so nothing to worry about. One thing did bother me a little though......even though the altitude gain was only 148 m., the total climb was 706 m with a total descent of 576 m My interpretation of this data was  that the significant hill was basically an undulating climb almost all of the way.....interesting!

Part of the Zimbabwean collection

Birdwoods Gallery and Cafe

There's nothing like cycling by the skin of your pants, not really knowing what you are getting into. Happily breezing along the road, not a care in the world, taking in the beautiful scenery. Isn't this what bicycle touring is all about. Now hang on a bit, "I thought today might bring a little bit more challenge than yesterday's docile meander along the seaside and river."
Suddenly, not more than three kilometres into the ride, we stop at the Birdwoods Gallery and Cafe, renowned for it's stone and metal sculptures, the metal no less coming from used 44 gallon drums. For more information on this fascinating gallery, please open the above link.
My wife purchased a number of carved wooden apples which looked remarkably like the genuine article. This is unusual for my wife as she is not in the habit of purchasing this sort of thing unless it is exceptional.

Having looked at the above pictures you would have to agree that with this type of scenery to distract, it is quite easy to be lulled into a comfort zone and a sense of euphoria.
The climb started gently and it was quite awhile before we became aware that we were pushing that little bit harder and looking for a lower gear. The 'pelaton' was starting to split and the gap widening.
I thought to myself that this landscape, as it is, is a photographer's dream and I am so lucky to be here at this point in time. To clarify, New Zealand was in the midst of a major drought. This is not what you would normally see. Usually the hills are lush and green. To my mind though I love the contrast of the different shades of brown  and green, the form and texture of the hills. It is no less than a natural form of sculpture.
Up and up we climbed
Back to reality, there is a change in the tone of the group. A little while ago people were laughing and joking amongst themselves. This has been replaced with a deeper breathing action, the friendly banter has stopped and been replaced by the odd curse as someone misses a gear. The breathing is becoming more and more audible. Even the birds have stopped twittering, perhaps in a show of solidarity. There is a nervous glance amongst the cattle and sheep as they start to feel the discomfort. Why do humans do this to themselves?
On and on it went. Someone asked me if we were near the top. I said I thought so, only to find another upward undulation, and so on and on it went.
Some time later, I pulled out from the rear of the field to peddle to the front of the group to gauge a better idea of how close we might be to the top, and bingo, at the top of the next rise I knew we were there, as there was a long descent winding downward.

Even though we were on the downward run, the scenery still remained extraordinarily beautiful.

I don't, as a norm, drink alcohol on a ride but the temptation in this case was too much. Both my wife and I had Gurnard, a local fish for lunch and it was one of the nicest fish meals I'd eaten in a long time.

The 16km ride to Waipawa, although undulating, was like a stroll in the park and took us no time to complete.
Due to the village having limited accommodation, we were split into three groups with one group of four being transported to a motel in Waipukurau. We had another short, sharp climb to the Abbot Heights B&B where we were greeted by Charlie on arrival with very welcome cold drinks.
Our leader Ken with the consent of their gracious host Nicolette invited us to join them for pizzas, wine and pre-dinner drinks at Abbotsford Oaks. Having had a great night, Nicolette kindly drove us back to our B&B. I have to say that this B&B is absolutely unique for this part of the world, in a word superb. Nicolette certainly does have an eye for detail.

Our Tour Operator Takaro Trails Cycle Tours (Link)

Wishing everyone a very happy Easter and if you are riding, make it safe.

Jimmy Bee

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