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Day 15 & 16: Nelson to Murchison

PB and Dad on their bikes

Distance  10 +146km. Ascent 1467m.
Pies: 1 from mum & 1 at Wakefield.

While I felt that I could carry on, and with rain forecast in a few days time, it was tempting to hit the road without a break, but family are important - although I wasn't able to see as many as I would like.

The bike is holding up well with only minor adjustments needed; Mike has space & the tools needed so a full shop service wasn't required. My body is holding up well too. The biggest concern is that my lips are still really sore from the wind burn on day 1. As they say, "pain is weakness leaving the body". I will have very strong lips after this.

I had a leisurely 10km recovery ride to Glenys' parents place where Mum had a nice pie heated for lunch. The afternoon was spent doing a shopping trip to get ready for this next leg and post my tiny pot & cooker home. While I have used it, from now on I will be staying mostly in places that have kitchens.

The package from Glenys hasn't arrived, it has my full length gloves & thermal long johns. Rain is predicted mid week so I'll grab some in Greymouth. It also has different grips for my handle bars as I'm getting minor numbness in my hands.

Sending some gear home - but not the dog

I had a very pleasant evening with Glenys' sister & other family at their new property near Motueka and was able to help them demolish some rather nice food. Great to see the next generation being introduced to the outdoors by having a birthday sleep over in a tent at their grandparents. Although, on listening to some of that particular family's other outdoor tales, this sleep over will be very tame indeed. Both parents have been staff on ABS, need I say more about Nick & Hannah's parenting?

Pie stop in Wakefield

Day 16: via Wakefield

Day 16 dawned cool and Dad and 2 of his cycle group are lined up to set the pace for me until the first pie shop, a highly recommended bakery in Wakefield. It was pleasant riding alongside Ian, a veteran of numerous fund raising escapades with Dad over the years. I'm glad that they've now stopped, as chopping firewood is not really for the over 80 demographic. They have raised a lot for well deserving charitable causes.

I pushed on alone towards Spooner's tunnel on the well maintained ' Great Taste Trail'. The tunnel is 1.3km long so very dark. A light is definitely needed.

Tunnel Facts

The trail is fast so I'm down on my aerobars despite it being gravel. My morning ruminations are rudely interrupted by a voice behind me complaining of overloaded bikes blocking tracks. Turns out Mike is out on a 250km jaunt around the block so we share the trail then refreshments at the next village of Tapawera.

Tapawera was once the main office for Golden Downs Forest, from memory, the 2nd biggest pine forest in NZ. I worked in the work study unit, helping set standards for each forest operation. It was while living here that I finally gave up on living in a single men's camp. I distinctly remember the event that precipitated a move into Richmond and happily meeting Glenys.

Unusually for me, I went out for a round of golf on the forest's course. Once we had finished looking for golf balls and being only 11am; I invited my 2 friends to come to Te Waikoropupu Springs (Pupu Springs) to snorkel the crystal clear & cold 9m deep pool and float down the river. One friend agreed to the overnight excursion while the other asked to be dropped at the pub. On returning the following day after much fun, I caught up with the pub going & now hungover réveiller. I saw no future in such decisions, that sadly, had been part of my life too, so got out as soon as I could.

Lake Rotoroa

I've been told the next section is a nice ride, about a 300m rise over 30km followed by a 20km downhill. Hops give way to farmland with rows of pines lining the hill sides, tar seal gives way to gravel. Thinking I've got 5km to the top I perceive that I'm going down, checking the map I discover to my delight I'm done climbing for now.

After 15km of State Highway, I turn off & stop for the rest of my cold cheese toastie. On checking my phone, Tyler has left a message informing me I've now passed another TA rider. I check the tracker and it appears she's down at the river. I met her on Day 1 and she passed me on my rest day. As I devour the toastie a ute pulls up with a kayak on top.

Yes, he's off to paddle this section of the Buller River; but have I seen his wife, Dallis, on a loaded bike? Not able to help him I push on, only to discover her 10km on, being fed & watered at a small Cafe by Lake Rotoroa. The trackers seem to do this at times.

Meeting Nathan a past Capernwray student

We decide to push on to the next town together as it is only 33km away. As we pause to take photos at the lake edge a voice says "hey PB". It's Nathan, a past student and caver extraordinaire. He's loading a boat to go to the head of the lake for some adventure with friends. I would love to catch up more, but the sandflies here are clearly malnourished,  as they're trying to eat me, a skinny biker!

I catch Dallis on some awfully steep gravel and we cruise swapping experiences into Murchison where I'm staying at a backpackers called The Lazy Cow. While we're having our milkshakes a movanner starts asking about the trip, she is clearly interested. Her husband joins us and she let's slip he has a muni. To most mere mortals, this means nothing, but to me this is code for 'interesting person'. A muni is a mountain unicycle and I ride one. It turns out that he learnt when he turned 50, as I did but he has not been distracted by the unicycle with a training wheel, aka bike, as I clearly have.

It is these random conversations as one weaves their way through the country that makes this journey such a delight.

The backpackers is mostly empty, despite being Waitangi weekend - the only other guest is a woman from Arrowtown doing her own epic ride. I enjoy swapping stories, before I head off to an early bed.