The Ruru's

Brent & Claire

Page 2 of 15

26/2/24 Tour Aotearoa 2024 North Island – Mangakino to Camp Epic

It was again damp when we departed towards the Timber Trail, a rugged part of the central North Island.

Lumpy road riding warmed us up for what was to come, a sloppy single track that took acrobatics to stay up right, before we got onto a bush clad logging road.

A diversion off to the right had us arrive at a marker that signalled the center of the North Island.  Then another short cut passed a tractor of yesteryear to come out onto the Timber Trail proper and a 13 km grind skywards.

More acrobatics on the downwards and the drizzle from the heaven, albeit under canopy, had us not looking forward to putting up the canvas in the wet.

And then it appeared, a place called Camp Epic.

So we rode on up and in looking like drowned rats and pow, managed to score three tent sites that included a building to shower in and an area to cook.  They even threw in breakfast – cereal, toast and eggs sunny side up.

Yep, it was all part and parcel of a first taste of glamping!

It was heaven.

25/2/24 Tour Aotearoa 2024 North Island – Matamata to Mangakino

Day 8 started out moist.

Bucketing down from the grey matter above.

Still the debate as to why we put rain coats on to keep dry, but sweat profusely beneath the thing while rotating the momentum forwards!  A real numbnut oxymoron if you ask me.

And to make matters worse, milk tankers overtaking us did swing wide to be considerate.  It was the back draft spray that followed afterwards that propelled forward faster than we we peddling.

Wet butt crack plus butt butter that was more like a syrup being drenched … no other descriptive words necessary.

We pushed on. Raincoats came off and then went back on.  Tarseal then gravel, gravel then tarseal.  Don’t ride directly behind as the wheel spray can flick up road kill if one rides over versus around!

And the off road bits were nuggety.  Soften surfaces left channels like riding on sand.  The legs working overtime.

Nothwithstanding, riding in rain always brought out the fauna green colours more strikingly, punga tree ferns full blosom.  The rowers on Lake Karapiro, the wilberforce of the Waikato River, the drop off from a bridge that people with vertigo should avoid, the dams, the lodge we are staying at, the korero with fellow bikers, and now watching Piglet pack and repack and pack some more, made this day an awesome day to remember.

View from a bridge.

We have clocked up over 750 kms since the Cape.

A little ray of comfort sunshine as the shadows of grey are ones of sunset.

A complete contrast to the sunrise ones.

Tonight’s dinner …

24/2/24 Tour Aotearoa 2024 North Island – Paeroa to Matamata

The transition was prominent.

From moo cow countryside to horsey countryside.

The only thing that didn’t change were the hordes of blow flies encountered on the rail trail that must just love the change in diet!

Muffled any chatter from the one leading the slip streaming to reduce any probability of swallowing a flying beast, thus keeping the mouth shut and inhaling/exhaling through the nostrils.

And with head down looking at the line to cycle, a fat chance of snuffling the bastards.

We got through!

Paeroa to Matamata was mostly on the Hauraki Rail Trail.  Another feature on the landscape were the rows of oak trees that were just as majestic as the mighty Kauri.

Love acorns.  Seeds of knowledge.

Manured well with the amount of cows and horses that live here.

A short day to rest the frames for the next push …

23/2/24 Tour Aotearoa 2024 North Island – Clevedon to Paeroa

We had things arse about face today.

Days are getting shorter so we rode a longer distance!

And one needs to not make the mistake and think that they could be getting bike fitter doing the kms at pace when really body fatigue is showing pockets of aches and soreness.

We took the decision to ride the coastline versus traverse the Hunua Ranges.  The Firth of Thames was stunning looking east towards the Coromandel.  Would make for a pretty awesome sunrise and fleeting passed places for third bedrooms (campers and caravsns) to stop at, I’m coming back to explore this part of paradise.

Miranda was the itinerary stop however indecision called for a Governance call and therefore we pushed forward to Paeroa.  Our peace of dirt to pitch the canvas and rest the bodies horizontal is at an NZMCA park.

How special were we to be invited to join the permanents for a pot luck dinner by camp managers Tarzan and Jane.  Home made cooked dishes is the best kai to nourish the hunger.

Before swallowing two magnesium capsules to minimise cramps.  They too feel close when rolling over at ground level during shut eye inbetween dreams.

Of living the dream!

22/2/24 Tour Aotearoa 2024 North Island – Parakai to Clevedon

Retarded Rooster.

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Work with me here.

Communal sharing of floor space with total strangers is just what happens when the place we did a sleep over at was offered.  There is no discrimination.

So the #@*+ who had a squeaky blow up mattress tossing and turning as if it was a blow up doll had everyone sleeping patchy.

Asking him how did he sleep, “She was not bad, not bad, thanks.”

I told him if I see him again, I’m gonna pin prick the bastard to give it a slow leak!

Banter, of course.  (Those who know the Ru will never under estimate the Ru).

So at 6am, the Auzzies alarm went off.  So I turned on the lights above their sleeping position. More banter I think.

And then there was Dave. He decided to sleep outside in his tent.  Something about him sharing accom the previous couple of nights and not sleeping well with others.

Where he pitched his tent had spot lights off the building, lighting it up like daylight.   When he asked how to turn it off, we purposefully said that we couldn’t locate the off button. I know. A full moon the whole night.

So at 6am when everyone was inside packing up, and there was no movement from Dave, I decided to poke me head out the door and do a cockadoodledoo.  Twice.

We packed up, Dave filtered through before we left, nice guy. Caught up with us at breakfast at a cafe. When the question was asked about hearing a fire siren, his response was,  “yep, and some retarded rooster”.

Humour is important on an adventure that has one stradling a bike seat long distance.   Just like Pooh today missing a turn off and having his dot go wonky towards the coast.

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And again needed as we traversed a rolly polly landscape and then some more than planned.

A huge day, stunning views, even the 360 degree panoramic one of Auckland from Mt Eden.

Not the Mount Eden prison neither.

Where I’m guessing those mattresses squeak differently to the ones we encounter!

21/2/24 Tour Aotearoa 2024 North Island – Dargaville to Pouto Point to Parakai

Day 4 – Dargaville to Pouto was only 69 kms.

Again the legs were having to pump frames and life carried over unrelating humps on the landscape.

This part of the ride had a time factor.

We had to meet a ferry to transport us across the Kaipara Harbour so be ready to embark and gang plank up at the top of the hour, 4pm.

To give some perspective, check out the bike photo of how many made it on time.

One poor cyclist didn’t as they stood at the high tide mark in angst to see the tub do a left turn and rev the motor to propel us forwards.

It was a 3 hour water taxi ride to arrive at Parakai at 7pm and disembark exactly the opposite to how we boarded.

And another 4 kms into Helensville and find lodging at the boat club.  Thinking it was going to be another night under canvas, nope.

How welcomed were we by Sheena.

To be allowed to find a space in the club house and kip down marae style.

Fellow cyclists that include some Auzzies and a Frenchie.

Whānau regardless the whakapapa.

20/2/24 Tour Aotearoa 2024 North Island – Omapere to Dargaville

It’s hard to sum it up in one word.

The Kauri giants that graced the woodland skyline we climbed up to, rode through, and down out of.

Tane Mahata at over 2,000 years old is the centre point for congregated selfies.  It’s earnt it’s rightful place to be looked after, for generations to come.

But from a bike seat, you get to see a heap more of the Kauri canopy.  At the same time looking down to keep the line huffing up.  And yehooeeeing down.

More ups and downs. Tar seal and gravel.

The trail angels that were waiting for us at a point just out of Dargaville with cold water and a slice of water melon was divine. A unique family cheering riders on, high up too on the trail. Maybe heaven.

So day 3 has now had us arrive at Dargaville.

Therefore, to the word to some up the mighty Kauri … majestic.

Lastly, it was good bye to BClaire who left us to return home.  Been an Angel in her own right to see us sorted.

19/2/24 Tour Aotearoa 2024 North Island – Ahipara to Omapere

Lycra is our friend.

Must be black cos white when it gets wet is see through.  Then you would see the socks Piglet stuffs down his front.  Not a good look.

And socks down the front is a kind of padding. But not really.  Cos the padding needs to be under butt cheeks and gussety area.

And it’s important not wear undies. Both sexes. Actally any type of whatever you want to identify as!

And, black lycra would not stain like white.  Referring to butt butter applied.

Today, lycra was our friend.

Going from sea level to elevation that when we dismbarked the bikes, totalled just over 1,300 m of up.

A heap of perspiration shed this day, day 2, cycling from Ahipara to Omapere.

We were going to go further, but came to the unanimous vote, the sunset this day is gonna be a boomer.

Tane Mahuta, the mighty Kauri can be our treat tomorrow.

Huh, wonder if the others will notice that I switched their lycra on the clothes line this arvo!

18/2/24 Tour Aotearoa 2024 North Island – Cape Reinga to Ahipara

It can only be ridden at low tide.

90 mile beach.

But before you reach the bit between the sand dunes and the sea, one must encounter the bulb that signals those sailing the waters where the Pacific Ocean fuses with Tasman Sea and it’s aura, at Cape Reinga.

It’s significant to Māori and where the deceased’s wairua (spirit) departs these shores.

Then it’s a 20km or so of tar seal undulation blat before a right turn that had one negotiate stream riding.  Arse up riding  that and you win dick of the day!

Then the 90 mile (which is actually approx. 88kms) .

It threw everything at the mind, the body and the bikes.  An unrelentless sapping of firm sand underneath,  rolling crashing waves to the right, eroded dunes to the left, sea haze that ghosted forwarded riders ahead, and a heap of population outdoors whether fishing, swimming, follicking for shellfish, or recreational motor biking, quad biking or pullin wheelies in four wheel drive beaten up sea rusted utes.

So the welcome from BClaire and Kerry Rolleston  (our bloody outstanding host) were the two welcomed beacons at the opposite end of mile 90.

It had beauty.

As it was “beauty” to have knocked the bastard off.

A new day will dawn tomorrow.

The snoring was certainly earnt this day!

7/10/23 Marans to La Rochelle 30.5 kms – The Last Time …

With 26 kms to ride, neither of us decided to apply any butt butter.

The nearly empty tube made a thud sound as it hit the bathroom rubbish bin wall, officially redundant. The crunched up plastic bag that contained it was also tossed and fell quiet to join it’s mate.

It was up to our Brook saddles to bring us home. That and our lycra padded bike shorts that separated under carriages on leather.

Panniers were packed as strict as they have always been. For the last time. All three plugs still accounted for. Bags carried out to the bikes and loaded. For the last time. Speedo positioned and reset back to 0.00 km and phone placed in the handle bar holder. For the last time. A wobble to point the bikes in the direction to be ridden and a leg lifted over the bar and foot placed on the favoured pedal in readiness for the half forward momentum rotation. For the last time. “Ready?” “Yep.” Our call sign to push off. For the last time. A glance backwards to see if there was enough gap to own the road infront. For the last time. And then we owned it.

And it was fitting that we chaperoned a canal for most of it. What a way to go out as a threesome – BClaire, me and a canal.

It was dormant of boat craft and empty. Only the sound of our bikes making tracks in the gravel broke the silence. When we weren’t jabbering in conversation. Or life was jumping and making ripplies in the Hookers green/Cadmium yellow hue canal water itself.

We rolled into La Rochelle that was brimming with Saturday life. People everywhere.

The railway station was absolutely stunning. We paused. Okay, I stopped to take another picture. BClaire stopped too. A default reaction nowadays. Anytime off the bike seat to allow gravity to do it’s touchpoint thing always welcomed.

“Ready?” “Yep.” Was that the last last time? We pulled up again down town and got busy visiting the tourist information centre to get a map, a paper map too. For the last time (I’m laughing as I type that). And plug in our accommodation address and let the host know that the Ruru’s had arrived. For the last time.

There was one second to last dismount of the bikes before the very last. At a place we could print off all our travel tickets – the bus, the train, the train again, and the earlier flights home. And, our electoral voting papers. Yep, we have a general election this year in New Zealand and this’ll be a first time to voice our choices from afar. Bugger, the place was shut.

We made our way to our apartment that will be home for the next four nights to reverse this mornings routine. Lift the leg up and over to dismount, unclip the panniers and empty out (they now will be scrubbed and take a much deserved holiday themselves), de-attach the phone and unclip the speedometre.

For the last time.

The big number reads 3,263 kms ridden from Budapest to here.

And although La Rochelle was a goal post-Atlantic reaching, it’s not about the destination (yes it is as we have seen a Fish’n’chips shop), it will always be about the journey from A to B and then C. And what we have experienced from the bike saddle in-between. And more. There is always a way way more.

For the last time, many thanks for following, liking, the comments, the banter, supporting and inspiring us. For the last time.

Or, until the next time. Becasue this will not be our last!

Homeward bound …
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