The route for Day 19, Kumara to Ross.
Distance 103km. Ascent 1159m.
Weather - Rain heavy for a time, with gusty northeasterlies. Showers later.
In some ways it is easy to make an early start when not in a tent. Packing up is quick & easy, but getting out of bed isn't. Muesli with an Up 'n' Go is forced down as I pack, making sure that the things that must stay dry, will. It is not cold but my top hasn't dried overnight and the first part of the trip is reasonably flat, so it will take time to warm up.
This dilemma of what to wear is played out in all our homes everyday. My choice though is either a wet cycle shirt or a dry polypro. There are many around the world who don't even have this variety of choice. You wear the only clothes you own. My choice is, as it always is, keep stuff as dry as possible for as long as possible or keep it until I need it. So with a wet top under my vest I head out into an overcast day at 7am peddling energetically to warm up.
The drizzle soon starts and turns to rain and I don't warm up until I hit some hills. The track is part of the West Coast Wilderness Trail and is in excellent condition. It is a mixture of gravel road and formed track making it accessible to a wide range of ability. I'm conscious that very heavy rain is predicted and there are 2 fords near the top that can flood. They are both running clear. When I'm in Hokitika 3 hours later, I hear that the hydro company have closed that part of the track and posted a detour.
After winding through lovely bush and past small hydro canals I make the top. With the current weather I don't expect to see anybody so I'm surprised to see a couple on e-bikes coming towards me decked out for a day in the West Coast bush in yellow ponchos.
I once had cause to use one of these useless pieces of plastic, so I hope they have contingency plans. They are staying at Cowboy Paradise 5km down the track. An enterprising character has tried to recreate an American western town in the middle of nowhere with bar, shooting range and accommodation. He is a massive Trump fan, so some love him, some don't. Stories abound and it's hard to sort fact from fiction.
I have no need to stop, so don't.
Apart from one uphill, the next 36km to Hokitika are downhill. I've now donned my thermal leggings to slow heat loss. I'm still seeing other riders and a few bike shuttle operators. They must be a hardy breed over here, although the riders are from out of town and in the retirement age bracket. I can tell that as they're on e-bikes. I think over here if you only ride on fine days, you limit your riding days.
I'm quite cold when I roll into Hokitika. There is a good bike/ sports shop, so I go there looking for cheap gloves. They turn out to be really helpful & store my bike so I can go and drip on someone else's floor while I eat. As I stand to leave 'Stumpys' having satisfied my hunger, I notice not only a small puddle at my feet, but muddy grit over the seat. I'm able to use my sleeve & the spare serviette to get it off.
With 35km to go and still not fully warmed up, I break out my dry poly top. It quickly does the trick for a quick ride to Ross via some long boring straights. The track follows the final section of what was the West Coast railway.
I check into my basic cabin and start the end of day routine. I'm trying to get gear dry for tomorrow but I will make a call in the morning about my plans as more heavy rain showers, potential thunder & hail are forecast.
Today was a different factor to manage. So far it's been hot, windy, steep, rough & boring... now cold & wet.
The day finished with a meal in the local pub as I chatted to another eclectic group of NZers. The 70km/day cyclist; the multi sporter with his parents here to do the Coast to Coast race this weekend; and of course, no public gathering is complete without a retirement of movanners.
This local (below) had just caught the 10lb brown trout in the reservoir below the pub.
Follow him on the Map Tracker by clicking the pic below.