Mike had thought ahead to my arrival, and had taken a day off work today to ride for a day with me. Since I was taking the most back of back roads as possible, last night we came up with a suitably out of the way route from Hamilton to Kawhia via Raglan. By the end of the day, we had only made it to Raglan, due to all very legitimate reasons (excuses).
It was not until 10am that we finally left Mike and Stephanie’s house in central Hamilton. Their son Joel had already made a beeline for my recumbent before I managed to get to it.
Mike had to make some last minute adjustments to his panniers, which he hadn’t used for a few years, but soon enough we were off. Mike had kindly agreed to carry half my gear, to make things easier on both of us.
We were only about two minutes into the ride when a semi-disaster struck. Once again in true Chernishov style Mike took off like a man possessed and took me on a winding rollercoaster ride through a park he had once walked through. While walking, he had never noticed the ditch. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you look at it, Mike did notice the ditch from about 5 metres away as he sped towards it at 30km/h on wet grass with slick tyres and heavy panniers on. His lightening fast reflexes meant that he only fell on his knee at about 20km/h.
I couldn’t help laughing, but it was clear that Mike and his bike were both worse for wear. We limped back to Mike’s place to repair him and his bike.
By 11am after a quick stop at Pack n’ Save (grocery store chain in NZ) we were finally on the road and out of Hamilton.
The plan at this stage was still to try to make it to Kaphia, about 80km away on windy gravel roads. It was a big ask to make it in time (Stephanie was scheduled to come and pick Mike up at about 7pm), but we were confident.
And then we took a side road. Quite easily just as steep as the road over to the Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan
. The only thing it had going for it over that road was that it was not sandy, and wasn’t at 4,300m in altitude.
By lunch we realised that we were still only 1/3 of the way to Kawhia. It was an easy decision to decide to cycle to Raglan and call it a day instead.
Blatted down the other side of the steep hill, and ground out the final 17km to Raglan.
It was about 2km to Raglan that we realised something that could have saved us a lot of energy. Stephanie was going to meet us to take Mike back to Hamilton. In the car. We would put Mike’s bike in the car. In the car.
We realised that we had carried my tent, sleeping bag, electronic gadgets, all the way to Raglan, when we could have had Stephanie bring it in the car. There was no need to split the gear between us to make things easier. We could have just gone with no gear at all.
Oh well…the scenery was nice.
Arrived Raglan with great hoots of joy and copious amounts of helmet hair. It was a headwind all the way.
Tea (dinner) was a generous helping of fish and chips, the grease soaking deliciously through the newspaper wrapping. Mike reminded me to savour the clammy feeling of dissipating humid heat as I released my embrace on the warm package. It is all part of the New Zealand fish and chip experience.
We ate the fish and chips on a rug with a slither of a view of the Raglan bay as we sheltered behind a tree from the cold wind.
Today, I laughed more than I have for a very long time. It was fantastic to have deep belly laughs, gasping for air. Spending time with someone I know and have common experiences with…what a luxury. I didn’t feel like staying the night at Raglan, so we stuffed the two bikes (and all the gear we had lugged unnecessarily to Raglan) in the car, and we all headed back to Hamilton. A great day out. Not at all pointless.