Today had overtones of those four days pushing my bike in Kyrgyzstan (starting on Day 51). What I had expected to be a perfectly navigable by bicycle track ended up being a serious hiking trail with steep gully descents and absolutely un-rideable terrain.
I was following the Mangapurua Track from Whakahoro to Mangapurua Landing via the Bridge To Nowhere. This track that takes hikers 2 days to complete cuts through the Whanganui National Park to the very depths of the bush to the Whanganui River. From the Whanganui River, the only option is to get a jet boat out to the nearest road (about 30km up or down stream). Or, you can carry your own transport. I was carrying four truck tyre tubes and a foot pump.
The weather was a consistent drizzle that kept the otherwise easily cycle-able first 4km greasy at best.
With the heavy tubes on the back of the bike, plus all my other touring gear, the track was tough going in the steeper places. On the flat, I had to keep my speed down; the semi-slick touring tyres on the front of my bike did not have sufficient grip to keep me going in a straight line.
The dirt track lasted 4km across farmland before entering the murky depths of the Whanganui National Park. Once in the Park, the track well and truely became a hard-core tramping track, with mud, steep rocky sections.
I spent the remainder of the day (6 hours) pushing and hauling my bike across the track. Towards the end, I gave up pushing and hauling the bike and gear together. I took the luggage off, and ferried it individually back and forth. What should have taken a few hours on an unloaded mountain bike, took 9 hours on my loaded recumbent touring bike. Next time I will be on a mountain bike.
I only made it less than half way today, and camped in one of the many clearings that the early settlers made in the Mangapurua Valley.
I felt a deep sense of satisfaction despite the rediculous circumstances. I am sure that I am the first and last to ever haul a recumbent bike into this valley, but being there in the quiet of the native New Zealand bush, with a gazillion stars in an inky sky so close I could almost touch them, I felt content.