All good things, they say, come to an end and so does this ride. I've cleaned my bike and put my gear away, the washing is done and the wind down rides are happening and I'll start dealing with the emails this week. So here is a mixture of final reflections and statistics as I look back.
One of the items I knew I had to manage was my health. Riding around 3000km in 24 riding days, gives an average of 125km/day (range 78 to 180km) climbing an average of 1410m/day (range 253 to 2579m). There was also some cold wet days and days up to 30°C. That is a lot of energy expended and lots of sitting!
From a previous epic I learnt that if you don't eat & drink adequately, you 'hit the wall' and the body responds accordingly by failing to perform- it was a valuable lesson but did worry my friends. This time I ate a lot and at regular intervals. Muesli, bananas, yogurt, dehy meals, buckwheat, rice, tinned fish, pies, pastries, milk shakes, eggs, muesli bars etc. I only lost about 1kg in weight but my upper torso has thinned out. Yes, I did get tired and after a hard, hot day into Auckland it took a few hours to recover but I did and was able to ride a good distance the following day.
It was the sitting that caused me more challenges. On average it takes about 6 hours of saddle time to ride 125km. That is a long time sitting & my bike seat is not the soft gel type. Not a big issue on good surfaces as I have a very good seat & bike pants; but I found that the downhills on gravel the most painful and was most noticeable on the West Coast. I got no blisters and with clean cycle pants each day, strict hygiene and an anti chaffing cream I made it. 2 people offered me a sprung seat and with hind sight this would be one of the few things I would change.
My wind burnt lips are finally appreciating a break and I can now add vinagerette to my salad without fear, also brush my teeth, eat chips......
I have worn out my cycle shoes mostly on the rocky sections where I had to walk pushing a loaded bike. I only took one cycle shirt which is now very stained by banana in the pockets and a general grubby look despite stain remover and a hot wash. Despite cleaning the chain daily and oiling more often, it is worn out and to protect the other components I will need to replace it.
The Highs and Lows
Once a week when school is running we meet in 'family groups'. Often we do our 'highs & lows' of the previous week. So, what would mine be for the trip?
While there were difficult & uncomfortable times. Hills that never seemed to end, rain, cold, rough tracks and big trucks; I think the biggest 'low' was missing loved ones. Over the years in our marriage with the adventure ministry and Glenys' Rata work, we have spent a bit of time apart, weeks on end at times. I have always found this the hardest and this trip was no different; video calling helps but this cannot replace simply being in the presence of another. There were also some things I would like to have done differently such as take more pictures, talk to more people and bike 200km in one day but they are minor and I can still achieve these things in life.
The 'highs' are numerous. The messages that came through, often with a donation were a delight, encouraging and often reminding me of characters who I journeyed alongside in days gone by. The roadside chats, the Beegees movie night (see day 17 blog), the scenery, the random acts of kindness, so cheap but so uplifting. Laughing with others over my apparent insanity. Making the effort to engage - sometimes with the reward of by being entrusted with deep personal things. So humbling that some felt safe to do so. I saw all my immediate family as I journeyed and they are all such an inspiration to me. It was great also to see many in the wider family, they were where I got the best meals.
It hasn't been hard to finish. The road trip home with Ross & Lyn changed my pace and the time in Christchurch with Sarah, Andrew & Jasper changed my focus. My diary for the coming week is filling up and I know there is a lot to catch up on, a kitchen project to plan for and a wedding to be part of.
Do I have another trip planned? No, but I have some unridden sections of the North Island to complete in the years to come. East Cape to Cape Egmont looks enticing, only 1100kms....
A little thanks
There are many people to thank which I will be doing personally but some deserve special mention.
- Most evenings I wrote this blog and sent it to Nat with photos, she then edited and published it for your enjoyment. She also kept the website ticking over, all the while running her family & business.
- Glenys gathered pictures and kept a social media presence that I find beyond my interest & ability. It is often harder being at home either wondering how your loved one is really doing or knowing too much causing one to worry.
- A number of people helped out to fund equipment, food, accommodation & transport this has meant that I could actually start and complete the ride.
- Ross & Lyn transported me home, it was so nice to see a familiar face at Bluff and not have to worry about getting back.
- The Capernwray staff have worked behind keeping things running.
- And finally, thank you to those that contributed to the kitchen project big and small it has been a privilege to partner with you in this epic.
I have an onsite meeting to preview the project in the next weeks with the team from MMM who will be running the rebuild, headed up by Lejf who knows the workings of the old kitchen intimately. Maybe there will be some kitchen updates to post about in the near future!