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The Last 100km is the Hardest | the fourth bike touring ebook

This trip is the final 2% of a series of five long distance bike tours following my realisation some time ago that without much in life’s Commitment Department — my relationship had spectacularly combusted and longstanding jobs were nearing completion — there was a decision to be made: migrate back to New Zealand, or, end up in Oz permanently.

The Last 100km, Bike Tour The Fifth, is the tale of a slow, meandering, bike journey from Auckland to Nelson in New Zealand with some thoughts about the reasons for bike touring in general, and what it means to return home.

Download The Last 100km is the Hardest from the Amazon Kindle Store. Or click on the image.

Length: 10,300 words — equivalent to a 41 page paperback

File Size: 1765 KB

File format: .mobi — read in the Kindle app

Cost: $3.99

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Here’s an extract:

Anzac Park, Norsewood | Once again a free campsite just appears on schedule

Wet in the morning, for once I didn’t camp under cover, no trees around, so plenty of dew.

Apart from that the best summer in 10, 30, 70 years just rolls on.

Speaking of time rolling on I was reminiscing about a previous bike trip, Auckland to Wellington, back when I was 20. My route went through Tauranga but from there it was Rotorua, Taupo, Napier, Palmerston North, Wello. Eight days I believe.

The penultimate day was Clive, just out of Napier, to Palmerston N, 160km or so, my biggest riding day in my bike touring career, arriving just after January dark, ie, late. Today I’d hoped to make 100 and settled for 70km. Just an easy 90 kilometres short of my youthful effort.

The thing I most remember about that day, other than cruising through the Manawatu Gorge with lengthening shadows and little traffic, was my struggle on the Takapau Plains, the southerly headwinds so strong for a while I vacated my seat and walked the bike.

These days I’m made of sterner stuff, no pushing for me, but today did seem the full bunch of extraordinary effort, I checked my altimeter and discovered I’ve climbed 360m in the day without a single serious hill climb, the only downhill was crossing the Manawatu River 2km from the end of the day’s travels. Yeah, just grind, grind, grind.

Today, a gloomy day, not the fine version predicted, out there on Highway 2, as expected with the total cavalcade of cars from those on Easter holiday break. Overall not the funnest day aboard.

I stopped in Waipuk for some lunch, in Ruatanawhai Street, the shops mostly closed for the holiday. I know this town a bit having come here for a lively and erratic girlfriend’s 20th birthday celebration, met the whole family in one hit, they immediately sensed I was brave, or at least willing to accept a challenge, more than half a lifetime ago. Two big supermarkets here now, seems Waipuk has won the rivalry with Waipawa just over the river, 6km away.

I had a steak sanger at a not quite upmarket cafe, more of the greasy spoon variety, monopolising the trade of those hungry, or bored, holiday crowds and watched stray only-travel-at-Christmas-or-Easter types wandering up the shopping drag, one woman with two dumpy, grumpy teenagers in tow, they have milkshakes for their lunchtime fare. Various small groups of octogenarians hobble past, then scruffy kids with bare feet, some locals on scooters.

I get what I pay for with my sanga, $5.90, nowhere near that Archer River complete cyclist’s-dangerously-stacked-meal-on-a-plate burger from the ancient past, well, now I think of it, less than a year ago.

A family sit opposite inside, a guy takes his T shirt off, plenty of ink there, a message is sent to the kitchen, no salt on that order of well done steak with four eggs, his wife/girlfriend comes back with an extra mountain of chips. The shirtless one abruptly announces, maybe for my benefit, I don’t make specific eye contact, “I am Maori and this is my land”. No arguments from me.

When they walk out, six in the posse, I note the GPS device attached to the inked one’s ankle, courtesy the Justice Department I guess.