Well. What can I say? When we woke up either someone had removed the mountain so we didn’t have to cycle up it or it was raining heavily and the mountain was obscured by cloud. Sadly it was the latter option!
It was very wet. It rained and poured and sheeted and then rained some more. Did I mention the rain? It was WET.
Compare this view to the one from yesterday.
Noel and I collected our bikes from a friendly guy who would be transporting us from the end of our day’s ride and driving us back to our accommodation. He told us the first 14km were a steady uphill, taking us from about 1800ft up to about 3200ft. That sounded to me like a lot of hard work but it was too late to run away!
This is what my GPS recorded for the elevation during the cycle. Elevation gain was just over 2000ft.
Ready to go….
We cycled 1.5miles / 2.5km from our accommodation to the start of the Timber Trail. By this point I was starting to realise that my jacket was not waterproof any more and we had 40km to go.
The track initially went through woodland and then into open ground. These two pictures were taken an hour after we started. Noel’s legs are a little muddy but his socks are still mainly white…. I only mention this because not only did it rain (have I mentioned that?) but it then started to become rather muddy and slippery in places. By the end our socks were caked in mud.
Behind Noel in the background is the forest area and a hut is located just on the edge of the forest, which we could see but isn’t in the picture.
20 minutes later we got to the hut. We decided to refuel and shelter briefly from the rain (it surely must be passing through and would get better).
The view from the hut.
After waiting a short while (it was about midday) we decided that the rain really wasn’t going to stop and we had to get going if we were going to make our rendezvous with our pickup driver, 30km away, at 3.30pm.
Sure enough, after about 12km of the trail we finally had some downhill bits.
Almost a couple of hours later we stopped for a very quick lunch in the rain, muddier and wetter, conscious of the slow progress in the rain and mud (and hills).
There came a point when we just couldn’t have got any wetter or our feet/legs much more muddy!
We cycled over a stunning bridge with rain sheeting down sideways and it would have been an impressive picture but it was just too wet to take a photo. Also mud was getting everywhere so it would have been difficult getting mud off my hands to hold the camera! Sadly I didn’t take any more pictures until it finished raining at the end.
At one place there was a wide downhill section made from smooth rock and in the rain there was very little traction so that it was difficult to go forward slowly with the rear brake on without the wheel skidding on the surface.
By this time not only were my legs deflated but my arms had been used up too!
Throughout the whole day it continued to rain, sometimes very hard.
We weren’t going to quite make the 3.30pm meeting time so Lynne and Keith went on ahead as they were faster than Noel and I. We were still putting in a good effort, still cycling uphill rather than walking!
Eventually the trail turned into some much wider paths, some with compacted scree and some parts were rough roads which the cycle trail shared with motorised vehicles.
It finally finished raining shortly after 3pm.
3km from the end, on yet another uphill, I suddenly found I was going slower. I looked down and saw the rear tyre was totally flat. The rough scree material had resulted in a puncture. So, we upended the bike just at a point where the trail turned back off the scree road and into a cycle-only trail. Noel kindly started changing the tube when a vision in a white van appeared 🙂
It was our pickup driver. I quite quickly saw the sense in putting the bike in the trailer and getting in the van. 🙂 We could have inflated the tube but the pump was quite puny and it would have taken time to inflate and we’d then have had to cycle the final 3km and it would have been unfair on the driver to make him wait. So, the bike, with a new, deflated tube was put on the trailer and we were chauffeured to the meeting point where Lynne and Keith were waiting.
It was a bit disappointing but we’d done the hard part and the remaining 3km was on the easiest stretch of the day’s trail. The next day we found out that it was just as well we’d put my bike on the trailer as it had also suffered a puncture on the front tyre too!
Is this what’s called a selfie…?! 🙂
We were so wet! Personally, I had nothing on which was dry.
Keith wringing out his vest.
Standing in a puddle made no difference to how wet we were!
Very happy to have finished Day 1 🙂
This picture doesn’t do justice to the amount of mud!
Half an hour later we arrived at our accommodation. As we got out of the van we suddenly felt very cold and wet. We used a pressure hose to try to remove some of the mud from our shoes and legs – it didn’t make us any wetter but we were slightly less muddy! All my outerwear was discarded on the porch as it was too wet and muddy to bring inside.
After we’d all showered (ahh!), had a coffee (mmmm!) and a cold glass of wine or two(ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!) we drove 50km to Te Kuiti in search of dinner. Lynne had been recommended the Riverside Lodge. It was great – the meals were delicious, just what we needed.
We had been without mobile coverage since arriving at Pureora the day before so there was some catching up to do….. 🙂
Keith kindly drove us back and we pretty much went straight to sleep. Once lying flat, my legs were so used up I didn’t dare move them in an effort to maximise their rejuvenation for Day 2 of the Timber Trail next day! 😯
A brilliant day. Very hard work and made much harder by the rain and mud but very, very satisfying to have done and pleasing that the training Noel and I had put in beforehand meant we continued to be able to cycle to the end, even if we weren’t fast. We hadn’t quite expected so much hill work but luckily our training cycle rides up Bluff Hill had helped. Day 1 was definitely more a mountain bike sort of trail than a nice, gentle cycle.