Day 3 was intended as an easy return journey to Nelson, check in to the motel and – depending on the day – see something of Nelson. Given that this was largely the reverse of Day 1, and all on flat dedicated trails, an easy day was anticipated.
Breakfast was planned for 9:00 am at Mapua Wharf, aiming at the 10:00 am ferry to Rabbit Island (military planning here). The first bit was fine: arrived at the wharf as the cafe opened, and placed our orders. Impressive display by the host, who remembered five different meal orders and five different coffees, without notes.
A good start, and then the rain arrived – just as the boarding call was made. Fortunately breakfast was over, so we didn’t have to cope with soggy bacon.
With many cyclists to board, getting wet was not optional, as we joined several other groups heading to the island. The 10 minute trip was largely consumed with finding and donning rain jackets, in preparation for what turned out to be constant rain for the bulk of the rest of the day.
Apparently serious cyclists are not put off by such trifles however, as several groups were heading out for the day; we also passed a large group which had just been dropped on the Island, presumably with the aim of cycling back to Nelson in the rain. They seemed to be in high spirits though.
With no way of avoiding getting wet, stops en-route to lunch in Monaco were minimised, and by maintaining a steady pace we reduced the time for the journey by 30 minutes compared to Day 1. I’d like to claim it was the greater fitness, but suspect that the bigger incentive was simply getting out of the rain.
Lunch and a chance to dry out at the Honest Lawyer, and fortunately the rain stopped, then a short ride to the Courtesy Court Motel in Tahuna. Two units, with everyone being blessed with separate rooms – so a night free of snoring was anticipated.
Check-in, a change into dry clothes, and – with the sun finally having come out – the scenic route into central Nelson, along the waterfront. Right through the middle of town, to the picturesque Church Steps, where the bikes were hitched up, and a wander through the pedestrian mall, before relaxing at Macs Bar in the old Council Chambers.
Dale took the opportunity to travel on a bit further to visit his brother, leaving the rest of us to relax, then head back to Tahuna without him. This prompted an observant cyclist on the other side of the road to protest that “there’s only four of you”.
Perhaps more impressive was the guest on the deck at the neighboring bar who clearly overheard the exchange, and greeted Dale 30 minutes later with “There’s the missing one”. A complete mystery to Dale of course, not having heard the original exchange.
The trip into the city was followed by one of the unexpected highlights, given the rain earlier in the day. The motel had a refreshing salt-water pool, which was taken full advantage of by all. Steve claimed the temperature went up a few notches when he dunked his overheated body in the pool, but there is no definitive proof of this claim.
The weather holding, a walk around the corner to the Sprig’n’Fern for the evening was planned. A brief stop at the Sports Bar of the Ocean Lodge to catch the last few minutes of the Breakers basketball proved pointless: the Breakers lost, and the huge barn of a bar was empty. By this time it was raining, so a quick dash to the Sprig’n’Fern (only 20 metres according to Dale: not sure where he buys his tape-measures), and orders placed: a mix of burgers, pizzas and fresh fish – all very good.
Then back to the motel to finally watch the breakers game on tv, before a relatively early night for all.
Day 4: Back to Wellington
Day 4 was a short one only: breakfast at Cafe 69 at Tahuna Beach, followed by a short ride back to the airport. Bikes returned, panniers unpacked and gear repacked into original bags (with at least three people complaining that their gear no longer fitted: a case of less care on repacking in most cases.)
A successful trip all round – even with the rain on the third day.
A short and uneventful flight back to Wellington, then home.