Route for Day 7: ABS Lodge to Pureora Forest
Distance travelled 140km.
After a fantastic sleep at home, Glenys dropped me back at the lodge, and lo & behold as I'm loading up my trusty steed, Fred comes barreling down the road. I thought I would catch him anyway, so great to have company again. I know this section of trail well, it's pretty flat so we're in Arapuni for second breakfast in no time.
There were 2 notable highlights for me today. The first was a young couple who looked about 12 years old but were most likely older. They were on basic MTBs but loaded with panniers. Turned out they had left from about 60km north and were on day 3! Her carrier had broken so he was carrying most of the gear, they had suffered a number of punctures but were in good spirits. I was so stoked to see young people out having adventures. Something, I guess I have facilitated a lot of over my
After a great downhill where I reached about 70km/hr, we had lunch then hit the first real mountain bike trail. I knew there was some grunty up hill, and had planned to go further than Mangakino, where Fred had booked Air BnB. After a brief farewell I biked off. I had enjoyed the last couple of days having company but felt I could up my pace.
Mangakino seems a bit of a nothing town, it was a hydro village built when the dams were being constructed. Now a holiday village with a few shops and a golf course. Of interest to me is the Bus Stop Cafe. Located on the lake front with great views and selling tasty calories. They have the major food groups: Coffee, smoothies & fried food. In the interests of a balanced diet I ate from all 3.
It was good to renew acquaintances with the guys there. When my dad turned 80, I rode to Wellington and slept my first night in torrential rain on the cafe's recently completed deck. It now has a roof & food.
Garry the owner remembered that time and unprompted, remembered me unicycling the trail. It was nice to sit down for yarn. This is where the second highlight occurred. As I was preparing to leave, Garry offered to fill my drink bottles with ice. Some say super cold water takes energy to heat up for the body to use - I say ice cold water as you grind up 600m on a hot day is gold. He also handed me a muffin for later. A random act of kindness, costing little but meaning a lot; I left in very good spirits.
It was after 3pm & I had 50km to go, mostly uphill so I pushed on. The tar seal ran out & I had to get my bike over an old forestry swing bridge. The track climbed to 800m past the centre of the North Island. The cloud closed in and a gentle rain began. The forestry roads were in better condition than 2 years ago but potholes abounded.
It was a relief to get to the last few kms of downhill. I had planned to camp but I swung by some cabins, alas there are managed remotely and no one was around.
I headed back to Crawler Tractor Hotel. A covered display on an historic bulldozer that had enough room for me to sleep beside. I changed, forced a dehydrated meal down, did bike maintenance then hit the sack, with my earplugs in so I couldn't hear the mozzies.
Lessons from the day? Get out of you comfort zone & do adventures appropriate to you, but extend you boundaries. The other one is practice random acts of kindness.