Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 21: Nelson to Havelock

Distance: 75.3k
Distance so far: 1,331.2
Speed: ?
Runkeeper log: 1

Today marked the start of my return journey to Blenheim, and the end of my side-trip to Nelson. I'm going back a different - and somewhat more direct - way than the way I arrived, taking State Highway 6, and stopping at Havelock.

There were two major hills for the day, and one small one, all towards the start of the day's riding. The first one, to the Whangamoa Saddle, was fairly epic. The slope wasn't the steepest, but it was still fairly tough, and it just went on, and on, and on, without any respite until the saddle itself. The saddle is at nearly 400 meters above sea level, so I shouldn't be surprised, but it was a very long climb.

For some reason, even though I started Runkeeper recording as I left Nelson, it didn't actually start tracking me until part way up the climb, so today's distance is extrapolate from Google Maps and my route, and runkeeper's average speed for today is, safe to say, entirely inaccurate.

Going down the first hill was a blast, though - mostly straight, with gentle curves and a good slope. The runkeeper page is malfunctioning a bit, so I can't check my top speed, but I'm fairly confident it was about as fast as I've ever gone.

The second hill came not long after the first. After a long and gentle climb up to it - gentle enough I could still make reasonable time on it - the last bit up to the summit was very steep indeed, requiring me to take a break even in the lowest gear. Once over it, though, all the climbing for the day was done, which was a bit of a relief.

Nelson's the sunniest place in NZ, and the rest of the top of the South Island isn't far behind, so the weather was its usual gorgeous self today. It started off cold enough that I wished I had gloves, particularly on the fast downhill sections, but warmed up pretty quickly to a pleasant temperature, never getting hot enough to be a bother.

I stopped briefly at a couple of small towns along the way for coffee and then lunch, and made it into Havelock, the "Mussel Capital of the World", about 1PM.

My room for the night is at the "Rutherford Backpackers'", a YHA hostel, which I booked due to the apparent lack of any BBH hostels in town. It's easily the most run down and dirty of the places I've stayed so far - though it's not any cheaper despite that - and to my intense frustration, there's a shiny, new, and nice looking hostel just across the road, bearing a BBH sign in the window, and a placard proclaiming the exact same rates as here. Why it didn't show up on BBH's site or searches for "havelock hostel", I have no idea. Unfortunately, I've already paid for the night, so I'll have to put up with my current arrangements.

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