Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Day 6 - Murchison to Pelorous Bridge

Edge of Lake Rotoroa 
Owen sucking in at top of Porika

Amusing messages
at top of Maungatapu

Tor photographing me
at top of Maungatapu
Even the boys were up early for a big push today. The owner had left out fruit, yoghurt and muesli for us and we were all off by 6am. Some cool riding together followed in the mist around to lake Rotoroa. Aparently my reading glasses popped out of my rear pocket bouncing over one of the fords, but Owen noticed and kept them to surprise me with later! Then the big push (grovel!) up the Porika and an exciting descent down the other side. We caught up with Julie and Thomas then as they had pushed on in the dark the previous evening. Along the big straights in St Arnaud Owen set a cracking pace of 28 to 30 km/hr and the rest of us held on as best we could. More pies and cokes for lunch and Owen produced my glasses as I was looking for them to read the maps for the afternoon run into Nelson - much to everyone else's amusement! I think my reputation for absentmindedness is now firmly established! The others were faffing about a bit so Tor and I departed first and made good time through the forestry area through to Wakefield. We didn't see Owen and Mick again as by this time Owen had three broken rear spokes and stopped in Richmond for repairs. Thanks for the company boys - I really enjoyed your laid back style and youthful exuberance. The cycleway into Nelson should have been a pleasant experience but a nasty cool headwind and some fairly intolerant drivers took the gloss off it. Stopped for a Gourmet Felafel (for a bit of a change of diet) at a place by the same name in Nelson City at 5 pm. My brother Bill (who lives just off Brook St) popped by to say hello and wish us well and and an old workmate Howard and his partner Lindsay (who had been following our progress on the web) were waiting to do the same at the Maitai road turnoff. Great to have your encouragement guys. Tor and I set off up the Maitai at 5.30 pm hoping to make the Pelorous Bridge camp ground by nightfall. The ride up the Maitai was pleasant enough and the detour to avoid the closed bridge on the Dun Mountain also fine. Here we met a very helpful local rider (probably in his 70's) who confirmed the route back onto the Maungatapu. With our heavily laden bikes I have to say this was again a bit of a grovel. Tor and I were both starting to get a bit "over it" by the time we reached the summit at 8.30. The amusing messages on the wire across the track cheered us up as did the beautiful and fast ride down the other side in the dusk. At one point in the space of 5 minutes I was joined briefly on the track by first a wild pig, then a wild cat and finally a wild deer - I don't think I was hallucinating! It took no time at all to reach the gravel road at the bottom, but we then needed lights for the next hours riding - the only time on the whole trip I rode after dark. I had assumed that the road would be easy to follow, but we had a decision to make at a bridge at one point. It was the first time I had seen Tor a bit agitated and we had the compass out a couple of times before convincing ourselves that there was really only one way to go. It was with some relief that we popped out on the Nelson Blenheim highway at Pelorous Bridge just before 10 and into the campground. It wasn't clear how to pay after hours to stay there given that we wanted to make a very early morning start next morning. But we had barely stepped off our bikes before we were being accused by a rather grumpy camp manager of trying to avoid paying! $10 each calmed him down and we set up camp well away from others so as not to disturb them with our early start. There are some beautiful old trees in this area and it would have been nice to see them in daylight. It then started to rain - which was OK for me in my tent but Tor (all 6' 5" of him in a bivy bag) was restless.

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