This weekend was one of my quarterly respites, and my friend Anna organised a group to go cycling together. She booked a couple of nights at a Presbyterian church campsite, and offered to cook for all comers.
The main route in/out was about 65kms, excluding the commuter train ride down to Papakura, with 40 flat kms and 25 a lot steeper. Anna's friend John was the only one game to ride out with me, and the poor chap generously waited as I struggled over the hills on the fixie. It was a bad choice for the trip - the dingle cog allowed me to switch to a lower ratio as we reached the concentrated hills, but I was always slow on the downhills and just didn't have the stamina to cope. I only had to walk once (when using the higher ratio), but since I was always working hard and found it hard to take drinks or snacks I was completely bushed when we reached the end. John was very supportive.
Next day, Saturday, we had a lazy morning as the three guys joining us didn't arrive until noon. In the end two of them rode with us for about 2 hours, and we did a nice loop over ludicrously steep rodes. I took the bike left spare by the one guy not riding, which happened to be one of mine anyhow. It worked well for me, so I decided to ride it back on the Sunday. Check out this hill on Boiler Gully Road - we had to walk the first of two consecutive steeps like this, but had the hang of it better the second time.
Sunday morning we set off a bit late, at 8:30. John needed to catch the 12:10 train, so we had to make better time than on the way in. We managed to avoid the unscheduled detour to Clark's Beach which made for a nice morning tea location on day one, but I did get two punctures on the old tyres the backup bike had. Having gears made a huge difference, and it probably helped that we did the worst hills at the start not the end. We may even have had a tail wind through the flatter section, although I mostly noticed it when it flung sleet into my face on the heights. We made the trip in 3:30, arriving just in time to catch the
train and spread our wet, smelly selves across an empty carriage.
Going in was hard, but coming back was fun (in spite of the wet). All up, this was a good respite and restful. So different from Taupo last year. That old bike from my Uncle did me real well, although I'm glad I swapped seats before the ride out. No more taking the fixie on long trips unless I do heaps of real buildup first (which I won't).
ps - Can't resist showing you how I got the bike over to the guys who wanted to borrow it, along with the rack for carrying the bikes on the back of their car. :-)