Remarkable. Two back to back sun filled days. This was mid-year, months since I pack-muled the Surly and I wanted a challenge, plus I really needed to winter test my kit. So fully loaded and anxious I headed south.
From Highridge through the Hunua, eastward to Miranda, then onto the flat lands of the Hauraki. Destination Thames. Ninety six clicks later I arrived at camp north of town. It was time to set up and hunker down for the evening. A good days ride on good ground.
As the sun slipped away back towards the west, the draft from the rearward ranges flowed down in an endless bitter current. It was going to be a cold night.
It was! It ended up being the coldest night of the year. Cold cold!
I lay in whatever I carried; sleeping bag, layers of merino, leggings and with cold feet, it also meant shoes. Leaving only a set of nostrils exposed to the elements, snorting steam into the tent like an old leaking fell engine. It was little use, the ground cold meant for an endless rotisserie to retain what little warmth I had. It was an endless broken sleep.
Winter test over, I’d learned my lesson and now know what kit I’d need next. I packed early, hit the road and headed towards town to find somewhere warm for my toes (let alone my belly).
‘The Dean’ (of Clevedon Wheelmen fame) arrived for second breakfast a little later. We latte’d and got on the road. The plan for the day was trail riding Thames to Waihi return.
Stage one to Paeroa was a gravel double track through dairy country direct to Te Aroha Maunga. Rest, photo op’, loo then onward up the rail trail through the Karangahake Gorge to Waihi.
We completed our customary pie stop at 2pm just in time for a freshly invigorated shady wind to follow us back to where we began. A few aches aside, we made good time on the downhill trail.
Then onward to Paeroa and the double track, a setting sun in front of us, elongated shadows at rear. All the while bemused heifers nodded at us, humming their line to another old Glen Campbell favourite: ‘that keeps you ever gentle on my mind’.
I was relieved and thankful to have reached that last bridge and completed those two days. A shade over 200 clicks, a few sore muscles and a few frozen memories.
Good ground and a good day for the Wheelmen.
Today’s top track: Glen Campbell – Gentle on my mind