Today I began my day’s riding in a rather unusual way. A short ride from my motel via a local bike shop to get a couple of spare tubes took me to a tunnel…
…this is the view from the far end back to the street level. Immediately to my right was a lift, built about 100 years ago. Ring the bell by the door and Zena, Lift Operator, brings the contraption down to river level, loads passengers (in my case me and two other people with our TA bikes)….
…and took us to the top of Durie Hill. The lift was built to encourage people to populate the hill as Wanganui expanded a century ago. Incidentally, Barbara, my host for dinner last night with her cycling husband Mark, was a teacher at the Durie Hill primary school for many years.
The view from the top is spectacular of the city, the sea to the west…and most impressively of all Mount Taranaki to the northwest and Ruapehu to the northeast (…admittedly those two are somewhat telephoto’d).
Having savoured the view, I set off from the top of the hill down a local road…the start of a 135km, 10 hour day, of which 8 hours was actual ride time. The route took me to lunch at Hunterville where I had bacon and eggs Benedict again – excellent cycling fuel. From there, the route took me further east on mostly tarmac but some gravel road. I decided to compromise on the gravel and drop the front tyre pressure down to about 60 psi but keep the back at 70. That way my steering was less skittish on the loose surface but I was still rolling well on the sealed roads.
The last 20km or so of the day, the route turned south dropping down, and climbing out of, two river ravines. This photo is of the second, with the road high up on the left, dropping down to the bridge over the river then climbing to this view.
Apiti was my destination because I heard along the way from fellow cyclists its pub was very accommodating to TAers, with camping in the back garden and a dinner, breakfast and campsite all in for $50. I arrived about 6.30pm. The view below was from the front door of the pub a couple of hours later.
On arrival, the bar lady happily took my $50 and gave me (at no charge) a 2 litre plastic water bottle which had been refilled from the pub’s water tank. She said they were so short of water, they were giving each camper that ration to do with what they fancied…drink, wash, laundry or cook. Thankfully there was no shortage of bottles of beer, wines, spirits and soft drinks (at usual prices) …so there was already quite a party going on with about a dozen TAers and lots of locals.
Once I’d pitched my tent in the garden, about 30m from the bar, and ordered my huge half veggie / half meat lovers pizza plus a bottle of ginger ale and one of beer to make a large shandy, I found myself sitting next to a Scottish shepherd working on one of the local farms. He discussed with huge enthusiasm his very large mob of sheep.
Potentially there could have been a clash of lifestyles: locals wanting a good, long Friday night at the pub; and cyclists wanting to crawl into their sleeping bags just metres away. But by 10ish everyone had drifted off to sleep or away to their homes.