Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 17: Wellington

Distance: 45.5k
Distance so far: 1,023.3
Speed: 15.5k/h
Runkeeper log: 1

As you might guess from the title and timing of today's post, I ended up taking the bus from Wanganui to Wellington, following the advice of several people who told me cycling parts of the road to Wellington was taking my life into my hands. Surveying the road from the bus along the way, I'm not inclined to disagree.

I'm a bit disappointed at having to compromise on my 'end to end' goal once again, but on the bright side it's gained me two days that I can spend doing more interesting and exciting things, like exploring the Nelson and Marlborough area.

Today I went out for a ride around Wellington's shoreline - and it has quite a bit of it. The Lonely Planet cycling guide has quite a nice suggestion for a loop, and I largely followed that. The shoreline segment was about 30km long, almost entirely flat, and passing along some lovely coastal scenery along the way. Even so close to town, traffic on most of the roads was very light, making it an all around pleasant ride and a nice way to spend the day in Wellington.

Once I'd completed the shoreline segment, there was a long but gradual climb up Happy Valley Road - nearly 5k long - followed by a much faster, windier descent back into central Wellington. This was mostly pleasant, except when an inattentive motorist cut me off and nearly ran me over in his rush to get onto the motorway onramp. I swore loudly, which attracted a bit of attention, from everyone except the motorist himself.

The ride back to the place where I'm staying was a bit of a slog, ascending Ngaio Gorge Road and then Cockayne Road, both of which are much steeper than Happy Valley Road - in some places so steep that my lowest gear started to feel a bit insufficient.

With that, the North Island part of my tour is done; tomorrow or the next day (I haven't decided for certain yet) I'll get on the Interislander and catch the ferry to Picton, and start my South Island trip. Tonight will be spent planning out exactly where I'm going and where I'll stay along the way.

In a way, as much as I've enjoyed the North Island, it's felt like something I was doing simply in order to be able to get to the South Island. Most people claim that the South Island is a better and more enjoyable place to ride for the most part, and I'm inclined to agree with them. I'm really looking forward to getting started on it.

Also, a major milestone: I've now cycled over 1000 kilometers in my NZ tour! Woohoo!

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