Day 1 – Bluff to Gore
We’re off! Ride Out of the Blue 2014 has finally started and what a start it was! Two punctures, two crashes, two kilometres! First puncture before Corinne had even hit the road, second puncture Alison, then crossing the railway line in Bluff first Claire then Corinne wiped out on the slippery wet tracks, no traction and down they went. Claire’s got some pretty impressive war wounds but we’ll wait a couple of days for the bruising to come out before we show you the damage. After that it was all plain sailing, beautiful day, no rain, no wind, fairly flat and at 95ks not too long either. We’re gradually getting into the rhythm and finding our feet.
Just have to say something about the amazingly generous hospitality we received last night from Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff, and again tonight at the Hokonui Marae in Gore. We were warmly welcomed and tonight our hosts had cooked us roast lamb and venison stew, followed by rhubarb crumble, custard and ice cream. Organising a group of tired riders at the end of the day is a bit like herding cats and the evening quickly degenerated into a custard eating competition, enough said!! Off to bed, early start in the morning.
Day 2 – Gore to Clyde
After the thrills and spills of day 1, day 2 dawned bright and sunny but with a fairly strong head wind (again) and it was a long slow grind to Raes Junction where we stopped for coffee, Icoco coffee, best in NZ, donated for the ride and brewed for us by our dedicated support crew. Back to the road and heads down, grind away till lunchtime. The scenery was awesome with bright blue sky interspersed with fluffy clouds and everything standing out in high definition.
Wow, only 40ks to go, it hasn’t been such a bad day after all. On the road again and then it hit us. 40ks of the most gruelling ups and downs I have ever done in a day. The sum total of all the ups in that last stretch was 1,730 metres. Climb a steep incline, whistle down the other side, climb a steeper incline, whistle down the other side, climb a much steeper incline. Whistle down the other side. When will it all end. Well for the four of us at the back it ended at 7pm when we finally rolled into the Clyde Holiday and Sporting Club. Eleven hours on the road. So if you are wondering where this report was yesterday there’s your answer. We were totally and utterly pooped!
Another 143ks knocked off! Tomorrow Lindis Pass……
Day 3 – Clyde to Omarama
Day 3 began with a grunty little climb up from the town onto the highway. It was cool and cloudy to start but as the clouds began to break it became warm and sunny. At about 40k we stopped at a great coffee shop, right in the middle of nowhere where we were met by a reporter from the Otago Daily Times, and were photographed and interviewed….great article next day! The more publicity the better, get those funds rolling in!
For the next 40ks we were buffeted by a mighty head wind, the temperature was rising so layers were being shed at a great rate of knots. The temperature peaked at 31C in the valley running up to Lindis Pass. Even climbing up Lindis Pass it was really hot. The road got steeper and steeper, my legs got more and more tired, and then they couldn’t keep going any longer. It was get off or fall off. Get off won! Falling off is painful!
Off with the shoes (mustn’t damage the cleats) and it was one foot in front of the other, walking and pushing the bike for the next kilometre. Al was still pedalling, the support van would be around the next corner. I had to get back on my bike. I couldn’t arrive at the lunch stop on foot! One more huge effort and we arrived at the summit, 971m but we climbed a total of 1,376m to get there!
This ride is huge! Lunch over, off down the other side, downhill for around 40k, maximum speed 62ks per hour. What a magnificent day!
Day 4 – Omarama to Fairlie
Gorgeous weather again today rolling along surrounded by spectacular scenery. Mountains, snow, green fields, sheep, what more do we need. It stayed like this all the way to Twizel where we were hosted by Shawty’s café for fab coffee, banana and chocolate muffins, caramel slice and lolly cake, perfect sugar fix! It was shaping up to be a magnificent day, we were in heaven!
Then out of the blue came the head wind, blowing 20 to 25ks sometimes right on the nose, sometimes buffeting us from the side and gradually increasing. What a grind. Heads down digging really deep just to make any headway. It’s really hard when you have to pedal nearly as hard on the down hills as the up hills.
The scenery over the past two days has been spectacular, and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better it did. Round a corner, wind eased, road got steeper downhill and we swirled into Tekapo and there was that beautiful turquoise lake, and the rest of the team clowning around on the grass and enjoying a hard earned lunch and no wind! It always fascinates me how quickly you forget the tough bits and relish the good bits. That’s how we get up and face another day of it I guess.
Speaking of tough, this afternoon stretched all of us nearly to the limit. I know in NZ if you don’t like the weather you wait half an hour. Well, we loved the weather at the lake. Why couldn’t it have stayed with us to Fairlie? We climbed a short easy incline up out of Tekapo and that nasty wind was still blowing but now it was 25k gusting 35ks, almost bring us to a standstill, and it rapidly got really cold. The four of us at the back of the team stopped and tried to shelter behind a letterbox. It was a big letterbox, but four people? No chance!! Nothing for it but to keep riding to try and generate some warmth while we waited for the support van to catch us up.
-Sally Smith BPW Warkworth