Stage 3: Fox Glacier to Haast, 120km
And lo, the rains stopped. Though, the sun didn’t shine. Nor did the winds stir. Which made for perfect riding weather today on Stage 3 of the Tour of New Zealand.
It was also an idyllic course. Mostly flat through the rain forests of the lower West Coast from Fox Glacier to Haast. The only two hills came late in the day to the top of Knights Point, with its spectacular views over the Tasman Sea, then soon after at Ship Creek.
Weather and road made for a brisk pace for most bunches. However, our Team Ākina racers lost Geoff to a couple of punctures in the first few kilometres. Once those were fixed he was well down the field. Russell had a speedy ride well up in the field, while Nick and Corrie rode with the tourers – Donna and Katie.
Rod, however, signed in as DNS (Did Not Start) because he had to get to Haast, the stage end, as quickly as possible in the team van. He had two writing deadlines to meet for Newsroom by late afternoon.
However, Rod, Andy (our driver) and Lynn (our soigneur) did have a long, delightful stop at Bruce Bay, 51km along the course, for coffee from its famous food caravan and to grab some video of our team riders there and along the way.
While there was plenty of hard out riding in the peloton today, many riders were also saving a bit for tomorrow. It’s our longest, hilliest day, and in two stages. First along the Haast River, then up the Haast Pass, over the top and down to Makarora, a distance of 80km with 850m of climbing. Then a race lunch at the café there, followed by the day’s second stage to Hawea, a distance of 45km and 700m of climbing.
The forecast is dry and cool, so another day of excellent cycling beckons!
Meanwhile, our evening in Haast was very sociable. At our second peloton party of the Tour, we were given the opportunity to pitch our charity, Bikes in Schools, to the crowd. Rod briefly spoke of the Ākina Foundation connection between the Tour and BiS, and mentioned that each new bike supplied to a school costs $300.
Thank you, Dan, a fellow rider, for jumping straight on our donations page and contributing a bike’s worth of dollars!
Then it was off to dinner, which turned into a bit of a mission in such a tiny community. Only one restaurant was open, The Hard Antler, and it said it was fully booked. The only back up option was a bar snack back at our hotel.
However, our teammate Geoff, a professional chef, introduced himself to the hostess and chef and persuaded them we’d be minimal trouble to serve before their big rush started. So we dined well, with great thanks to the staff and Geoff’s chef-to-chef chat.