6am, everything is sore. Time to crawl out and get on with it, it’s the last day of the second stage. I don’t want to move… really I don’t. Destination Napier and a chance for some rest and good home cooking. The thought of sweet mamas meat loaf and raspberry square. OK that got me moving.
I said my goodbyes to Kuripapango camp ground and Nick the Brit and headed east into the dawn.
Nick the Brit
Nick didn’t really arrive as explode through a sea of manuka at dusk the night before. He’d just come up from Napier all vim and vigor with a massive cargo in tow (four panniers, a pack and a water bladder (I kid you not)) bound for Ohakune. We talked for a bit about the joy of hill climbing fully loaded, oohed and aahed over bike kit, then I gave him a low down on the Annie. He was strong, a bronzed athletic fit young Brit (in comparison to a old greybeard… me) and I’m sure he’ll make shorter work of my yesterday.
Onward into the east
Napier was another 86km away (according to Nick) and I knew there were hills between it and me. ‘What do they mean when create signs saying 86km to somewhere?’ Is that to the outskirts? The centre? The other end of town? When you measure your days in kilometres this stuff becomes really important. So I started to scheme about points on the line, stage gates, milestones… like a countdown to liftoff. I was like: ‘T minus 2 hours and counting’. Good god I need a life.
All I know is I have at least another 4 to 7 hours on road depending on the terrain, but I’m expecting less considering everything should be tracking my way, downhill. Wishful thinking…
There was an immediate climb out, then another and another, but this was soon replaced by long sweeping downhills through the forest to the edge of the Hawkes Bay high country. I’ve cycled through a voodoo where a lush green palette has been replaced with the khaki brown of my childhood. Behold the magnificent Hawkes Bay, laid open and bare from the Takapau to the Tutira.
Now it was a case of go hard and get home. Now was a time where descent was more common than ascent. Where the breeze, no matter which direction was as warm and agreeable as was the slope of travel. I made good time. ‘Omahu’ by 10:30.
That was my call sign back to the world (time to turn the cellular on) to let them know I was still alive, ‘Omahu’, ‘Omahu’, ‘Omahu’. And ‘Oh ma’ I had arrived.
I don’t think I’d ever ridden so fast to the Ahuriri. The moment had arrived. I was at a watering hole. Rest good, good leggies. You got me this far, you deserve a brake.
Todays top track: Michael Bublé – All I Want for Christmas Is You