First, an apology to anyone reading this (although that’s probably not many). The intention when we set out on this trip was to faithfully update the 5Men blog at the end of each day. The reality however is that poor WiFi and spasmodic 3G web access from Mapua conspired to sink that plan.
So the aim now is to progressively update the blog with all posts covering each day. Watch this space.
Day 2: 49 Km to Motueka and back
49 Km in 6 hours (3 ½ in the saddle) is not a bad result for 5 men in their dotage. But that’s what we managed on Day 2: Mapua to Motueka via the lookouts then back along the coastal route – no-one was game to attempt the climb back up to the Tasman lookout which featured in the morning ride.
First time round this was a real challenge for irregular cyclists: two long climbs, with the second climbing up 110 metres on a switchback gravel road. But everyone made it successfully and was rewarded with great views out over Tasman Bay and the Riwaka Valley agriculture fields.
And at the bottom? A fast descent to the Riverside Cafe for well-earned ice creams – and home-grown salads for those who needed it to increase energy reserves. More about this later.
A word about the shirts:
Before moving onto the details of the day it is worth recording the fact that the team shirts organised by Paul (and seen on most photos) have been a run-away success. Not only were they distinctive enough to be clearly seen by other road users (definitely needed on the shared road parts of the trail), as a bonus they performed extra duty as a conversation starter with other cyclists and café staff. Invariably either the customers or the staff of cafes wanted to know who we were and what our planned trip involved. And in the case of the Jester House in Tasman (the country’s best café), they looked out for us on the return journey.
Two incidents illustrating this stand out. The first was the guest at Siefried’s, politely enquiring if we were really going to ride “penny farthings” across the trail. One-up for the logo design choice.
The best however was the two active ‘older women’ – both actively involved in cycling groups – who crossed the square in Mapua in the rain to discuss our activities while we were breakfasting on Day 3. Unfortunately they also put our efforts to shame by claiming they had done both the long climbs of Day 2 regularly, and only that morning had walked to the top of Pine View Road (the first climb on Day 2) before breakfast. As they say, pride goes before a fall, and a sudden interest in the bottom of the coffee cup saved further embarrassment. .
Job well done though Paul.
The day in detail.
The planned trip was from Mapua to Motueka and return, with the outward ride involving two ‘large’ climbs, then back via the coastal road.
Breakfast at Mapua then off to tackle the first climb: 63 metres up a mixed road (Pine Hill Road) and gravel cycle track to the top of the hill behind Ruby Bay. A first test for our hill climbing techniques, and everyone passed with flying colours. The challenge was probably not helped by the passing local who suggested there was not far to go – well before we reached the top!
The effort of getting to the top in one piece prompted a need for refuelling, and once we hit the relative flat of Aporo Road on the other side a stop at the Jester House for a cuppa or cold drink was required. Also a chance to stretch our legs around the grounds, and size up the tame eels. And for Chairman Steve to exercise his “ex-officio” powers, aided and abetted by his right hand man, Dale.
Unfortunately the flat easy going of Aporo Road was replaced quite quickly with the major challenge for the day – the climb up the gravelled back-country roads to Tasman View Lookout, 100 metres above sea level. Doesn’t sound like much, but try it on a bike when all your previous experience of hard work on a bike has been head down into a Wellington Northerly. The few downhill stretches on the switch-back style road provided regular opportunity to recover, but were rarely enough to compensate for the climb up the next – inevitably higher – ridge. I’m also not sure about the benefits of dedicated cycling “low gradient” by-passes around some of the steeper corners; they may be lower gradient but still had to get to the same place – it just took longer. Basic physics – and Steve’s muffled words – would suggest that the amount of work involved was not a lot different!
A mixture of styles (the “dash and attack” of the fitter riders, the slow steady grind in low gear for others, and the occasional “get off and push”) all proved successful, with only small gaps between arrival times at the top. Great views in all directions once we got there however were a highlight.
Again, a passing local’s promise that it was downhill from there, with the “Riverside Café’ waiting at the end got us back in the saddle and a vigorous coast to the bottom. A good test for protesting brakes, but relief for tiring legs.
Ice-creams for three, cold drinks and the famous “Quinoa salad” for Paul and Dale almost made the pain worthwhile. A life-changing experience for Paul, who vowed to go vegetarian from then on if it could taste that good (a promise that lasted a little less than 6 hours as it turned out).
From there it was flat riding to Motueka, largely along dedicated cycle paths or shared paths, and a round tour of the Motueka waterfront, guided by “local boy” Dale, before setting off for “home” at Mapua.
Ignoring the attraction and relative safety of climbing back over the Tasman View Road, we bypassed that section by taking the coastal road – and coping admirably with passing motorists racing past at 100 kph a few inches from our right elbows! A return visit to Jester House soon compensated however, and the reverse climb over Pine View Road above Ruby Bay seemed relatively benign.
And after 6 hours on the road, the cool waters of the Mapua swimming pool were inviting – even if we did have to share with the locals sporting all over tans. We are not prudes, but not being game to display the obvious “tide marks” of newbies, the togs stayed on.
Tea that night was at the local Seaside Cafe: steaks all round, and a quiet beer, before repairing to the cabin to watch the delayed telecast of the Crusaders/Highlanders game (Kem’s technology having failed to deliver the live broadcast).
Otherwise an early – and surprisingly quiet night (too tired to snore) – for everyone.