After the rain, comes sunshine with no wind as we took off along the west coast of “Firth of Thames”. The narrow road hugs the coastal line tightly with very little protection on the sides, so made for some interesting challenges when large trucks try to get past in the tight bends. No stops for coffee (there were no cafes to be found) had us at the base of the hills some 30 km from departure ready to cross the headland in a record time. The road surface was great and we wondered what all the fuss was after the owner of the caravan park advised that it could take 5 hours to reach Coromandel, a mere 50km up the road. Ed set a cracking pace but really just used it get in front to take photo opportunities.
The team stopped for a water, dried fruit & nuts break, but not Robert, who sensed the venture ahead and was keen to keep going with a head start. We even passed a couple of cyclists going in the opposite direction who had a smile on their face knowing what we were in for. And then the climb started. According to Mark, we climbed vertically 2,142m over the next 12 km, split over 3 hills, each one seemingly steeper than the previous.
Phil won “king of the mountain”, but really everyone surpassed themselves and could not believe just how incredibly challenging it was. At the top of the mountain we discovered bees, who happily smacked into our helmets and glasses as we rapidly descended. Wisely, Michelle recommended we keep our mouths well closed.
Coromandel is a delightful town and we happened to hit the best coffee ever tasted (or was it just recovery) in the middle of town. The afternoon was spent shopping and basking in the warm sunlight.
This night’s amazing feed was held in an outside pavillion of the local backpackers hostel and included sumptious local smoke mussels, red wine, fig & almond roll, smoked fish followed by thai chicken & vegetable stir fry with rice and fresh fruit salad. The chef talents of Robert, Colleen, Michelle & Rayner are definitely making it hard for the others to follow.
Highlight: No coffee stop and amazing hill climb & descent.