There was a lot of late night discussion about today with fears of the impending climbs over the ranges from West to East Coast. So much so, that Robert, Liz & Rayner left an hour before everyone else to be sure to have time to “enjoy the views”. The remaining troops followed with our first climb up “Good Morning, mother” – a monster 3 km to the top of the first pass. Some wisely packed jackets – it was cold at the top, and especially useful for the super fast downhill on the other side!
A few of the later group stopped for coffee at the bottom (one of only 2 coffee shops along the whole route) and Mark discovered he was the unlucky recipient of another flat tyre. Phil missed Mike turning off for coffee and battled ahead to catch up with Liz, Robert & Rayner at the top of our second major climb, “Pinch”. This was the steepest of the climbs and caught out everyone except Phil, Don, Michelle & Ed. The worst part was you could see the top in a straight line, over a kilometre away, and it just got steeper.
The third of the major climbs, “Gotcha” was just after reaching the west coast, past a beautiful coastal village and the other coffee place in which the first group stopped. “Gotcha” had some incredible zig zags, & whilst not as continuously steep, there were some trying sharp turns to crunch up in “Granny gear”.
Mike sprinted ahead, after coming down the other side of “Pinch” at truly break neck speeds (a steep descent with only a few wide sweeping turns), and managed to catch up with the front group.
The last of the big four, was “Welcome” and indeed it was – the view over Whitianga outstanding. George would have been proud of the groups efforts today, despite a moderate 43 km it was a “toughie”.
Average Speed: 19 kmh (only achieved because of the downhills, as most walked up the steep parts)
Highlight: The downhills – super fast and a real buzz. The beach at Whitianga – brilliant for a cool down swim!