Arapuni to Mangakino 

Day nine

Slow start today… didn’t get away until after 8:30 for what I’d planned was a nice river ride to Mangakino. It was brill’, what I’d built beastie for in the first place, a little low effort riding into the boonies. I got about 5 clicks down river to the first swing bridge (now that was wild!) when the track notice changed to say ‘suitable for advanced riders’. ‘That’s a bit rough’ I thought, but after a little introspection and having recently turned 50 I considered it ‘made to measure’.

Within a few kilometers I realized the ‘advanced’ status was nothing to do with age, it was likely more to do with my ability. Ability that I didn’t quite have. No amount of double doses of porridge and ‘daring do’ was going to make up for the fact I didn’t have the minimals required. That and the fact the beastie is loaded down with about 16kg in gear and riding cyclocross tires. I want to ride like the wind, I want to be free, what I don’t want is to push and carry beastie all the way to Mangakino!

Before long I found myself humping more hills to get back on a rideable track somewhere further down river.

It was a very hot day on the quiet back roads of central, as I sat back in the saddle for the big upward haul from Rotongata, then down to Waipapa, where I rejoined the track for a while. Rolling into Mangakino (parched and dry) about 4:00. It had been a real scorcher.

I’m now camped at the boat ramp for the night with a nice vista over Lake Maraetai, reviewing future routes more gentile to the elderly.

Vindication

I was already in bed when I heard some familiar voices. A young couple from the USA (who were staying at Arapuni the night before) had just rolled into camp. There was blunt and expressive use of Anglo Saxon to describe their feelings at making camp after sundown.

Turns out these two had left Arapuni about 30 minutes after me to attempt the river trail, but rather than admit defeat early, they pushed, carried and cajoled their bikes all the way to Mangakino. I did drift off with a smile of satisfaction, as they clattered through their belongings to rustle up a late dinner.

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Back road playlists

The best thing about backroads is bugger all traffic and the opportunity to break the monotony of the road with a loud long cranking playlist.

I remember cresting one of the endless summits, screaming along with Glen Campbell to ‘Wichita lineman’, where a highly surprised herd of about 30 heifers looked up, their necks tracing a slow arch in unison as I glided into the downhill. As I looked at them, looking at me, looking at them, I could almost imagine them in chorus…

“I hear you singin’ in the wire, I can hear you through the whine. And the Wichita lineman, is still on the line…”

What I’ve realized in the travel to date, is how inquisitive the humble heifer is, in comparrison to the noble sheep, goat or lama. I always get a gaze, the occasional nod and the odd chase parallel to the wire. Where as a sheep, well, they couldn’t give cows crap.

Perhaps its my singing…

Todays top track:  Jack White – Wayfaring stranger. 


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