TFI Nelson

Trip Start May 29, 2010
Trip End Oct 09, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Friday, July 23, 2010

We eventually emerged from our tent after firing up the computer and checking out the weather forecast for Nelson - our target for today.  All of the sources forecast heavy rain which would stick around all day.  There was no point trying to avoid the rain any longer, we were going to spend the day soaked so had better get used to it.

We sat and planned how we would get all of our kit out of the tent to the shelter without getting ourselves or our kit wet.  We managed the decamp from the tent with military precision and stood under the shelter repacking our kit to rectify some issues we had had the previous day with the way the weight was distributed and also altered the position of the panniers.  Finally we recovered the tent and left it 'drying' under the shelter finally shaking it and packing it away just before we were ready to leave.

The previous days' climbs had made us reassess the amount of weight we were carrying so we found any paperwork and leaflets were were carrying and ditched them then found three books to leave at the campsite along with our treasured but unfortunately heavy tough Guy mugs that we had received in our finishing packs.  Someone who found them will now be stealing our thunder somewhere!

We set off feeling a touch lighter and made our first stop in the cafe opposite the Havelock Hotel that we had been recommended by the locals the previous night.  We met a couple of the people in there from the previous night and they came over to say hello, apologise for the weather and wish us luck reminding us once again that we were about to encounter huge hills and climbs.  We had an expensive but nice breakfast and set off passing first through Canvastown where we noticed a couple of houses up for sale.

We stopped at the side of the road to take photos at a place called Rochdale which pleased us greatly probably even moreso than if it hadn't been absolutely pouring down.  The going was pretty good with relatively flat straight roads, we still really had to take care with the traffic and this road was significantly busier than the road we had taken the previous day.  We pushed on for just short of 2 hours when to our surprise we arrived at Rai Valley.  We had travelled 30kms already and suprised ourselves with the progress we had made.  We stopped at a cafe where we wrung out our 'waterfproof" gloves and ordered a hot drink to warm up our hands.

We consulted the locals for the road conditions and were told that we had one long stead climb followed by a shorter very steep climb.  We were warned by one of the ladies to take great care descending from the highest peak as there were no shoulders and the logging trucks were renowned for leaving little room for cyclists when passing.  She told us that her son had almost been killed when he was clipped by a logging truck on that very road

We pulled on our soggy, cold coats and gloves and gingerly headed out to the big one.  We cycled over undulating terrain for about another 5km before hitting the start of the first climb, in total we climbed for around 30 minutes then descended down a long fairly straight road for what felt like a long time.  We continued along climbing gradually but with such little gradient that it was bearly noticable.  The impending knowledge of the steeper climb was weighing on our minds as the wind really started to pick up forcing the rain down harder so it stung our faces.  

As we rounded a corner we saw the start of the climb, it was steep but had we not had the panniers and a merciless headwind it would not have been anymore challenging than the Rooley Moor Road climb.  We persevered up the climb, as we neared what we though was the top the wind really started to gale, forcing us backwards and swerving into the road.  We had to dismount for a few minutes while we got our breath back and waited for the gale to die down enough to allow us to cycle forwards in a straight line albeit very slowly.  We both irrationally shouted a number of profanities at the wind as we struggled to make progress as we were climbing seperately we didn't realise we were both doing this until we got to the top and laughed at how crazy we must have sounded.

We rounded the corner at what we thought was the top and found an equally steep climb and spent the next 40 minutes climbing until we finally reached the top which looked as it had been described by the locals in the cafe (at least they got that part of the description right!).  We caught our breath at the top which was frustratingly calm compared to the conditions we had battled through to get there.

The descent was scary, usually descents far outweigh the effort of climbing but we were descending a very windy road with sharp corners (remember the slow steering), no layby so trucks passed very closely at high speed (all relative) blowing our bikes close to the edge of the ravine which in some places had no crash barrier.  Needless to say Al enjoyed this far more than Char who took to slowing almost to a standstill when any large vehicles approached.  The strong wind made controlling the bike difficult and combined with the fatigue we reached the bottom of the descent feeling completely shattered and freezing.

After a few more kms we reached a shop we had been told was our last stop for supplies on our route in a place called Hira.  We each bought pies which were amazing and ordered some chips then sat huddled in the corner on makeshift chairs talking to the owner who had recetly taken over the business.  The lady, Madison, we discovered was from LA and told us she had moved to NZ with her kiwi husband and soon got bored of living in the sticks so bought this business which was much closer to Nelson.

We wished Madison good luck, having spared her our thoughts on LA, and continued on our long journey to Nelson, we had been informed that we had one small hill which we could see from the shop but from there we had about 16km of relatively flat road to Nelson.

We could see Nelson way before we got to it which was like torture for us as by this point we were completely knackered with extreme saddle sore.  We finally, after taking a cycle route into town reached the information centre, got directions to the hostel and reluctantly climbed back on the bikes for the last short journey. 

At the hostel we received a discount on our room for using a sustainable mode of transport, by that point we wouldnt have cared if we had to spend the rest of our savings on a room, we hadn't felt our feet for a good 5 hours and just wanted a hot shower.  It was a bonus nonetheless.

We found our room, removed our drenched clothes and each spent an inordinate amount of time trying to restore our feet to a human colour in the shower.

We took a brief walk around Nelson after we had warmed up and picked up some groceries from the supermarket, ate a very quick meal and went to bed appreciating very much the simple things, warmth and a comfortable bed.

Folow the link below to see our route from Havelock to Nelson and the elevation(!):
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Pong on

I am struggling to see the fun in this part of your travelling!!

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