The route for the last day of this trip: Mossburn to Bluff
Distance 135km. No pies but a lovely bowl of soup.
It was lovely to spend the evening with Colin & Lynette. Being in a home makes packing so much easier too. So with an 8am start in mind, we drove off to Mossburn. The forecast predicted a good biking day but proved otherwise with drizzle settling in after half an hour. There was also a light head wind to keep things cooler still.
I didn't realise how flat Southland is; while there are hills, I would ride up none of them today. The highpoint was riding over a bridge to cross the railway. Flat also means straight roads so I could sum up the ride to Invercargill as tedious. I think it must be the way to get a rider mentally prepared to end the trip.
As the drizzle turned to rain, I passed Camp Taringatura where I had thought I would spend the previous night. It borders a bush reserve, a river and farmland. The unusual sight of an enclosure filled with large inflatable playground type objects appeared. I have and can find no explanation for this, apart from perhaps hosting youth camps.
Winton was about the half way point 70km in, needing to warm up I found a nice bowl of pumpkin soup at the Flourish Cafe. Good to see businesses responding to the latest Covid requirements. There were a number of empty shops on the main street giving the town a bit of a left behind feeling.
Being exposed to the elements means that the nostrils have more time to do their job. The sweet smell of some unseen flower in the bush or the perfume on a walker I pass are at the more pleasant end, then there is the roadkill on a hot afternoon on the steepest part of the hill, or especially today- the pungent odour coming from the effluent spreader in an adjacent paddock. Speaking of odour, it will be good to have a shower and stop wearing my cycling kit as of today.
As I approach Invercargill, the traffic gets busier, fortunately the track takes me around the eastern edge of town by the estuary. I avoid town almost completely. Here is another local council investing in the health of their people by building cycle tracks. Unfortunately, the track deposits me on the main road to Bluff. With the port ahead there are a lot of trucks passing. Due to the wind direction, as a truck passes, I get an initial wall of air almost blasting me off the road, the second wall is better and can lift my speed by 10km/hr. I'm well used to riding in wind but this was very disconcerting.
The signs point to Stirling Point where the ride ends and Ross will be waiting. Because of the conditions today, I'm not really reflecting on what I've done and the many people who have been behind this adventure in various ways. I do briefly choke up thinking of my family and how proud they are of me, and me of them, but the feeling soon passes as there is a small hill to ascent for the final ride to the finish.
I coast down to the end as Ross gets the all import photos and the indifferent onlookers go about their own lives.
My family do a video call which I regret not focusing on as well as I should. It is so good to see them but all fitted on a phone screen in the sun with onlookers as I gather my gear and thoughts was a bit much.
For Ross's benefit as much as for my own, I shower at a nearby motor camp as we have a 2 hour trip to Dunedin. He has brought my bag of clean clothes down, so I delight in something other than the 1 set of non-riding clothes I carried.
Fish & chips in Balclutha breaks the trip and I'm soon deposited to my cousin Michael & family's place at the All Saints Vicarage in Central Dunedin.
I hope to do one more blog as I gather my thoughts and reflect on this adventure that we've been on.
Sponsor PB for the ride of New Zealand that he has just finished!
There's just $20K to go to meet the required amount of $70,000.