Riding time (start to stop including stops along the way): 8hrs
When I woke on Sunday morning my knee was quite swollen and sore. I could barely hobble around the cabin and was feeling quite disheartened and thinking that I might have to admit defeat. However, a couple of ibuprofen and a couple of paracetamol later, and things seemed a little better. I packed everything back onto the bike, and tentatively started the 2km ride into town. It seemed surprisingly good, I stood up and pushed hard on a little hill – still all good. I met up with Jo and Scott for breakfast, briefly toyed with the idea of switching to the Brevette, but ultimately formed a plan to wait for the Coastal Crew and carry on with them. There was an easy 50km road section to the Hurunui Hotel to start with, so I could always pull out then if necessary.
I spent a very pleasant morning hanging out in Hanmer with the Emmens, and catching up with all the riders coming through. A lot looked the worse for wear and there were not many good things said about the St James track, maybe I had picked a good option? A few people were changing from the Brevet to the shorter Brevette course after doing it hard on St James’. Dale was the first Coastal Crew rider to arrive in Hanmer by legitimate means, following the Brevette (750km) course. He was his usual chirpy self, especially after a couple of pies and a coke.
|Dale refueling in Hanmer Springs. Still smiling 220kms in.|
The Coastal Crew team arrived around lunchtime, and after they had replaced Ian’s tyre at the bike hire shop, and refuelled, we were ready to head off. I was rocking the one-leg-warmer look for protection and compression of my swollen knee. As we got to the edge of town, Ian pointed out that I had a broken spoke on my back wheel. Bugger! My bike inspection had clearly been insufficient. The Crew headed on towards Culverden and I turned back to the bike hire shop. The mechanic was out for lunch, but returned about 5 minutes later. Unfortunately he couldn’t replace the spoke, and gave me a lecture about being self-sufficient and how I should be carrying spare spokes. I think he had had a tough morning with all the Breveteers coming in with various problems. He removed the broken spoke for me, and I carried on. The next bike shop would be in Nelson, another 750km away. Hmmm, better not do any big hucks!
|One leg warmer. Doesn't seem to have caught on, and has wreaked havoc with my tan lines!|
I set back off out of Hanmer, and enjoyed riding by myself. The scenery was spectacular, it was a beautiful day and my knee felt fine. Things were looking up. Jo and Scott drove past on their way back to Christchurch, pulled over to check how my knee was going, “Awesome” I yelled as I passed. It had better be, as that was my ride out of Hanmer disappearing over the horizon. When I got to Culverden, The Coastal Crew were sitting outside the dairy looking a little the worse for wear. I decided to make the most of my fresh legs, and carried on alone towards McDonalds Downs.
It was a lovely day for riding, heading out through dairy farms with blue cloud-scattered skies and the mountains in the background. I stopped to fill up my water bottle from a sprinkler at Medbury Hall. I was cruising along thoroughly enjoying myself, and passed a handful of other riders. I reached the gate to McDonalds Downs and took the obligatory picture by the farm sign, then got back on the bike and carried on in the wrong direction! I thought it was a bit strange that the pink line on my Garmin wasn’t working properly, but it took me 4km to figure out that I had gone the wrong way. Doh! I turned around and rode the 4km back to the farm gate. Usually I am so reluctant to admit that I have gone wrong, that I will carry on regardless in denial of having got lost. However, having 180km up my sleeve somehow made it seem less of a big deal, and going back was not too painful. I was reunited with The Coastal Crew at the gate, and we carried on together again for a few more kms across the station. My gears were shifting badly and the bike was creaking a lot on the climbs, but it improved a lot when I tightened up the bottom bracket thingy.
|Just prior to wrong turn.|
|Descending into Lees Valley.|
The boys stopped for a sandwich on top of one of the hills as the sun was beginning to set. Since I had filled up on my protein for the day in Hanmer and didn’t have any proper dinner, and was keen to get as far as I could before it got dark rather than using lights, I carried on alone. The descent into Lees Valley in the evening light was absolutely stunning. Every time I looked up I couldn’t help but grin at the amazing country we live in. The valley was easy riding down a long straight gravel road, and I started to look out for potential camping spots. I settled on some pine trees just beside the road. My spot was well hidden and sheltered but only a few metres from the road. I set up my bivvy, cleaned and lubed the chain, had my One Square Meal, and went to bed. I saw the boys go past a little later with their lights on. I slept well, only being woken once by a possum hissing at me. When I rolled over it scampered off, clearly realising that I had the weight advantage should it come down to a wrestling match.
|My camping spot for the night.|