Monday, February 6, 2012

Day 7: Kaiwaka to Wellsford

Distance: 20.1k
Distance so far: 397.1k
Speed: 12.43k/h

Runkeeper logs: 1

My original plan for today was to head for Helensville, on State Highway 16, a very hilly and winding ride of about 75km. This would have put me within easy reach of Auckland for the following day's ride, and allowed me to avoid the worst of State Highway 1 into Auckland. With that in mind, I got  up early again, and got on the road about 6:45, trying to avoid the worst of the SH1 traffic.

Getting on the bike, though, it was quickly apparent that that wasn't a realistic goal for the day. My legs were still sore from the previous day, and my left knee was stiff and beginning to ache - not a good sign. The weather, too, certainly didn't encourage optimism - gray and overcast, threatening to rain, and occasionally showering me with a few fine drops. Given the state of my legs and the difficulty of the road - constant hills - I decided to ride the 20km to Wellsford, where State Highway 16 branches off, and make a decision as to what to do when I got there.

Arriving in Wellsford, I sat down for breakfast at a cafe and considered my options. Only two seemed practical:
  1. Stay for the night in Wellsford and try the remaining 55km to Helensville along State Highway 16 again in the morning.
  2. Compromise on my "bike every meter of NZ" principle and get a lift in to Auckland, and continue my ride from there later.
The guide is fairly clear on this: the ride in to Auckland is not one of the highlights of NZ cycling by any measure, and they strongly recommend not riding it - with only an "if you must" section describing the SH16 route - something I was discovering for myself. I'd only moderately enjoyed yesterday's ride, and I wasn't enjoying today's - either what I had done or what was likely ahead - either. I'm sure you can see where this is headed...

Yes, I've officially declared defeat on my goal of riding every meter from Cape Reinga to Bluff, and I got a lift in to Auckland. I'm still continuing my tour - naturally - and I still intend to keep to the spirit of my goal to ride the length of NZ, but I've decided that since I'm doing this trip for my enjoyment, there's little point in forcing myself to slog through parts I really don't enjoy when there are other options available.

I'm taking Tuesday as a day off in Auckland - enforced, more or less, since I need to pick up my mudguards from the Auckland post office and fit them to my bike - and I'll be back on the road, headed for Hamilton and the Waikato, on Wednesday. Look for my next update then.