January 10, 2006

1/10/06 Nelson NZ

87.7 km / 129 km total

We all tried to get up and get an early start. George was hoping we'd make it to Nelson in time to have his bike checked out at one of the bike shops. He was having a lot of problems with his derailer.

You could even see some blue skies as we headed out of town. From Havelock, we join up with Highway 6, which we'll follow all the way south to Queenstown. But traffic is pretty heavy out of Nelson, with lots of double trailer trucks whizzing by. For the most part, we had just enough shoulder to ride on but sometimes it disappeared altogether.

Passed by a local swimmin' hole. Cool!

At first we rode through quite a few dairy farms. But as we started to climb, pasture gave way to forest. And where there is wood, there seem always to be logging trucks.

Our route followed the Pelorus River, then up the Ria River. At Ria Valley, we stopped for an early lunch because the guidebook didn't show much until we reached Nelson. A couple biking with trailers stopped to drop off trash but then kept on going without saying anything to us. For me, maybe I shouldn't have eaten so much.

We began our first of two big climbs. I seem to pull away from the guys on the uphills. Part of that was because Mike's chain kept getting jammed into his spokes. But I'm constantly looking back because I'm worried with George pedaling with all that gear.

More climbing!

Our first climb wasn't bad, about 300 meters, and there was a good downhill. It was the climb and descent of almost 400 meter Whangamos Saddle that nearly killed us. It was a beautiful climb, blue sky with 1000 meter peaks all around. But the climb was steep and just kept on going.

The trouble was the descent was even steeper going down. We rode along the cliff edge and I tried desperately to control my speed, using all my strength and concentration to stay alive. I hate fast descents.

But once the road became a little more sedate, we had a great ride as a little tailwind blew us into Nelson. We made it to the bike shops before heading off to the campground down near the ocean.

I'm utterly exhausted. Too much sun, too much work. Both George and I talked about shortening tomorrow's ride. We showered, then headed out for a Mexican dinner. We got ice cream for dessert back at our campground.

It's hard riding with partners but we're all making compromises and trying to keep communication open. We'll need each other as we head up the West Coast, especially if the weather turns bad.