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Day 13: Featherstone to Wellington

The route for Day 13: Featherstone to Wellington.

Distance 89km by 11.30am!

There's a big hill between the Wairarapa and Wellington regions. My mind is planning on catching the 4pm ferry to Picton. But wherever that competitive part of our being resides (heart?) it is quietly aiming for the 1.30pm sailing. It's like an app running in the background, surreptitiously influencing decisions until suddenly it's possible.

I've been well fed, watered & rested at Aidan's place (pictured below), then dropped back at the farm to a cool start.
I'm heading to the Rimutaka cycle trail which follows the old railway line over the hills to Upper Hutt. This used to be the main form of transport between these 2 regions. Steep hills & deep gullies were overcome with bridges, tunnels and fell locomotives that dragged produce and people up & down using a cog railway system. A railway tunnel & hill road now replace this enterprise and all there is left are relics, some of them on bikes.

A railway tunnel!

Siberia Gulley saw a train blown off the bridge in 1880 resulting in the loss of life. No sign of wind today however and after making the summit I needed to don vest & beanie for the fast but cool descent.

Siberia Gulley saw a train blown off the bridge in 1880.
A snapshot of today's journey on Strava

It was as I downed a One Square Meal at the top, that I realised it wasn't even 9am. It was 20km of downhill to the top of the Hutt cycle network, then another 44km into the ferry. That's 64km mostly flat or downhill. My rational brain caught up with the competitive brain, as I realised I could get that earlier ferry if I maintained a good average speed. 

Now, the Hutt cycle way is another example of great investment by the City Fathers (& Mothers). Much of it is good seal. Because it is popular, dogs & small children with their caregivers abound. It is apparently frowned upon to mow these members of our society down; even if competitive brain is saying "just do it". So, at times my good progress is impeded. 

Andrew (another brother) lives about 200m from the trail and about 15km from the ferry, I decide that I have time to make it, so sadly miss the opportunity to catch up with his partner Sally.

I stick to the edge of the Hutt motorway - as most cyclists do - as it is a lot smoother than the cycle way until a highly recommended Cafe appears. I've been pushing pretty hard with speeds of 25-30km/hr and I need to book a ticket, so it's an almond croissant (no pies) and an iced coffee to reward the competitive brain.

I get there with time to spare so after check in and without changing, I run up to spend 10 minutes with Andrew, surrounded by lunchtime Wellington suits.

I settle in for a smooth ferry trip with a feed of fish burger & chips and a hint of salad hiding behind the big pile of chips.

I'm finding it hard to believe that I've made it this far in goodish shape. I'm also humbled by the great response, the comments and reminiscing that this journey has inspired. I'm also very grateful for the gifts that have come in for the kitchen and to support me on this mission. 

I use my down time to make a few calls, which makes me miss even more those family & friends I can contact. I realise that I am tired, as I'm feeling a bit emotional.  I have a rest day planned in Nelson on Friday to look after bike, body & soul.

My sister, Iona picked me up in Picton so I get another good evening with what seems to be an unending troupe of siblings.

I have a big climb tomorrow to get over to Nelson past Murderer's Rock, but that story can wait until later...