Tuesday, April 13
The thunderstorm during the night was one of the louder ones some of us have ever heard…and the rain kept pouring. So it was no surprise we learnt over breakfast the day’s stage was cancelled. The weather was cold and wet, with worse forecast. A handful of brave / foolish riders rode the route anyway. But few of us envied them their adventure. When our bus passed one of them, Rod wound down his window and said to him: “I’m full of…” and, unusually for him, he didn’t know how to finish his sentence.
Thus, the first Tour event of the day became a lunchtime peloton party at the White Pub in Fox Glacier, which would have been our finishing line for the stage. We had lots of time to spare so we went first to Haast beach to revel in the pounding surf and beautiful scenery.
Then we headed into Haast Township in search of coffees. Signs drew us to the On the Spot Foodcentre, where indeed they did make coffees, said Nicky who owns the supermarket with her husband Jeff. But they had no milk. They were waiting for their twice-a-week milk delivery but it might have been delayed by the bad weather. Quick as a flash, Geoff the Chef offered them two 2-litre bottles from our supplies. He popped out to our bike trailer, and returned with them to ceremoniously hand over to Nicky.
Nicky made nine coffees and one tea but she and Jeff refused to be paid for more than six…”you brought your own milk.” Which gave us an idea. Paul, how about diversifying Bikes in Schools into Milk in Cafes? Just think of the synergy…parents bringing coffees to watch their kids ride bikes…
The drive from Haast to Fox took an hour and a half or so, through some heavy rain at times. The native rain forest and mountains were beautiful all the way.
At the White Pub we had a very jolly peloton party, and given we weren’t obsessed by routes, riding and results we had plenty of time to meet and thank the team who work incredibly hard for us to make the Tour happen. They are all volunteers, putting in long hours preparing the Tour then taking 10 days off from the rest of their usual lives to run it for us.
As we were about to leave, Geoff had the brilliant idea of calling the staff at the Franz Josef thermal pools to ask them if they could open for us this afternoon. (Friday was the next scheduled day). Yes, they said…for a minimum of 50 people. Geoff rapidly spread the word on the Tour busses parked outside the White Pub and Donna posted it on the Tour Facebook page.
From the party, we drove on to our motel in Franz Josef…where we again turned one of our rooms into a picnic spot. Then headed for the pools for a soothing long soak and good old chat, in the company of other riders. A total of 39 riders came…which was very welcome, the staff said.
As we headed back to our motel the sky carried a hint of a better day tomorrow for our stage from Ross to Greymouth. There, we will board the TranzAlpine train for the four and a half hour trip to Christchurch. Then follows our last two days of racing up the South Island followed by our races in front of Parliament to conclude the Tour on Saturday.