Sunday, March 30, 2014

Day 31: Picton to Richmond

March 30th 2014
Distance cycled: 118 km
Total distance to date: 1821 km

Set my personal record today! 118km. It took me 10 hours to get from Picton to Richmond (with some rest stops built in, of course, and a coffee break). It was a grueling, crazy, amazing day!

The day started off in the campsite kitchen, where I made myself some oatmeal and instant coffee. I also opened the fridge to find that someone had taken my lunch! I had made a curry the night before so I'd have something to eat today. Well, hopefully that person needed it more than I did. That, or it's too spicy for them and they choke on it and break out in hives.  

I left Picton at 10 (still not so great at getting up early) and started up the hills that I had conquered the night before. As soon as I glided down the other side of the 2nd hill, I came across a campsite. And another. And another. Man! If I had only kept going last night, I could have had a plethora of camping options. Probably cheaper, too, and free of curry thieves. So the combination of both that and the lost lunch were an irksome start to my day. Fortunately, the views of Queen Charlotte Sound cheered me up:

I pedaled through forest, through farmland, and past a bunch of cyclists doing a triathlon before I finally arrived at the fishing village of Havelock. 

Not much to see here, but apparently it's the green-lipped mussel capital of the world, so I had to stop and buy a mussel fritter, which was greasy and delicious. There were plenty of caf├ęs but my guidebook said the one in the next town was particularly good, so I promised myself a coffee break there. 

The next place, Pelorus Bridge, was little more than a swimming hole. The cafe there was filled with wet children and they all wanted ice cream. So getting my coffee took forever. But I needed to eat my (backup) lunch anyway, so I started in on my hodgepodge picnic as I waited for my coffee. 

The next 54km after Pelorus Bridge (and actually the 18km leading up to it as well) were all on Highway 6. I wore my yellow vest and put my towel, which is also fluorescent yellow, on the back of my bike so as to increase my visibility. I didn't want to get hit by the steady stream of cars, many of them which were towing boats, going back home after Sunday outings on the water. Luckily, not many big trucks were out since it was the weekend. 

This stretch was really tough. Many places had little to no shoulder. I was being passed by vehicles going 100kph, with most drivers being courteous but a few just not giving me enough space for comfort. There were two big saddles to conquer, totaling over 600m of climbing in all. I felt myself running out of puff on the second uphill and quickly stopped to scarf down half a cheese scone and some mixed nuts. I was beginning to think I might not make it to Richmond before sundown.

Things turned around when I finally finished the second saddle. A long, winding descent was a change from the straightaways, which is always good for cyclists since it forces motorists to slow down. I was going so fast that only one car caught up with me anyway. It was really fun and made all the better knowing I had cycled all that way. In no time at all, I was out of the mountains and headed into Nelson.

Of course it was getting later and later, and I was worried my WS hosts in Richmond might think I wasn't coming. So I texted them to say I was still on my way. They told me dinner would be there for me and to pedal pedal pedal! That I did, but I had to stop to take in some of the amazing coastal scenery:

Truly stunning. This was all enhanced by wonderful bike trails that start 6km outside of Nelson and go all the entire 12km to Richmond, mostly off-road and all paved. This was great as it gave me the beautiful views of the sunset without the fear of being mowed down by a car in the gathering dusk. It was a great last 18km, made all the better by a warm welcome from my WS hosts Lorene and Brent. True to their word, dinner was on the table. I got to visit with their 2 kids and Brent's parents as I ate a delicious dinner of BBQ chicken and beef with grilled veggies and rice, with a dessert of homemade lemon cake and cookies n'cream ice cream. 

So that was my personal record-breaking day. Makes up for taking 2 days off, doesn't it? But I actually may take another 2 days off from the bike to walk the Abel Tasman track, which is only 40km from here. It's supposed to be beautiful and comes highly recommended from everyone I've talked to. Plus I need to find the time to rebook my flights - they are all messed up and they won't be getting any cheaper the longer I wait. ah, logistics, you wily beast. 


At 19:00, Blogger Brad said...

Beautiful! Actually, the scenery kinda reminds me of the PNW


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