New Zealand Cycle Tour: Whitianga to Wentworth River Valley, Whangamata 85kmTime in the Saddle: 5.01hours. Average: 17kph. Max: 56kph
Undies, undies, undies, togs, togs, tog – there is a time and a place for wearing full body lycra. It looks outstanding in a peloton wrapped around arses as tight as that of young Russian gymnasts speeding along in the French Alps, but there is something disturbingly wrong when found walking down the main street of Whitianga, clutching a man bag and wearing a floppy faded Aussie sun hat amongst early morning shoppers, with a bike not in sight.
This was my companion early morning in Whitianga, day eight or our cycle tour. We’d dropped Scotty’s bike at the bike shop for repairs and gone for coffee. Being female, of course I had considered the fact that we’d be waylaid for some time, and sure as Freddie is gay, I wasn’t going to be found walking the streets of Whitianga in my cycling lycra.
It might have been my smirking or the staring of strangers, but Scott soon changed (in the loos of the café) into his board shorts and nothing else. My darling has the skinny frame of a cyclist. It was early morning. It wasn’t long before he was turning as blue as his Aussie hat.
Morning evils complete we finally hit the road sometime after lunch from Cooks Beach. The next 60k’s was going to be hard yakka. We had two long hard climbs and there was going to be no stopping in the midday heat.
We ground our way up the first 3km hill just before Taurua. It was hot – damn hot! Home bound traffic was thick and constant. Now … regular motoring holiday-makers of the Coromandel would know that Taurua is a severe pain in the arse. It’s on the main route north to the golden sandy beaches of the peninsula, and right smack in the middle of town is a one-lane bridge. Now that’s going to slow things down a bit, and one white Mitsubishi Legnum loaded with drinking louts should have thought about that before deciding to hurl abuse at the hot and hapless cyclists. (I’ll just say here, that generally the traffic is very considerate – and the less-than-considerate (a euphemism for downright abusive and dangerous) fall into a certain demographic – young males with something to prove – unfortunately some in this demographic also drive trucks!)
Anyway, once we topped that long hard hill we soon caught up with the 8 kilometers of traffic that was backed up out of Taurua and that one-lane bridge. It was fun zipping past all that traffic and we kept a beady lookout for the white Mitsubishi Legnum. When we reached them, and with Scott’s head in their open window telling them some home truths, they were all of a sudden very polite.
It was over an hour later, and we’d topped our second big hill of the day, before the white Mitsubishi passed us again – this time we were given a cheer – it was good to recieve their redemption. Twenty minutes later we were in Whangamata. It had been a hard three hours. No breaks. Whiskey was on my mind.
Sensible Scott wanted to find accommodation first, but town was full and no one had room for us. We were homeless, but I didn’t mind, I would be happy wherever a whiskey bottle could be found. We cracked jokes and laughed our way around town, and supping Wild Turkey we spent the afternoon sitting at the beach (despite the liquor ban) watching the lifesaving champs.
As dusk approached we were forced out of our sleepy reprieve … drunk or not, we were going to have to find somewhere to sleep. We headed out of town to the full to overflowing DOC camp of Wentworth – and unfortunately – 5km down a gravel road which seemed to take forever. We got there just in time for dusk, had a hot shower in the rustic 3 minute gas operated outdoor shower cubical, then proceeded to drink ourselves to sleep to the amusement of our neighbours.