World of chairs…

Saturday morning’s arrival was a little painful after the previous nights send off for a work colleague…
A little more decimated by the Behemoth Brewing Company than I had factored in for today’s ride, planned a couple days previously.
Not really feeling the Mojo for a 140km ride, I settle for an abridged version which gives a little more ease to the situation.
Bike packed on car rack, ride gear sorted, water with a little honey and a solitary banana felt like enough given the situation.
Today, Saturday 1st of June, is also the first official day of winter with a fine forecast turning to rain early afternoon.
The drive to Havelock is always a pleasant meander through vineyards & dairy farms to the wee seaside village (touted as the green lip mussel capital of the world!)
Bike unloaded and readied…
Wifey (Donna) presents a coffee from a local roaster of fine beans. Not quite being able to drink the whole thing, I bid farewell to the Grandson & Wifey for a slow start. Instead of getting into a climb first thing I opt for a ride down to the Marina to get things moving.
Seeing a couple friends at our favourite restaurant I stop for a chat and catch up on their latest cycling adventures, then off to loop the Marina. Back up to the main street and off we go.
A couple of kilometres to the start of the Link pathway track, the gears clunk up to get the feel of the impending climb. Into the single track and the crunch of gravel under tyre is a good thing.
The climb has a few initial punches, but with these out of the way the smells, sights,and sounds of the forest start to work they’re magic. The first waterfall is a delight of noise,  mixed with native birds dancing around with a chorus of notes and winged acrobatics.
Stopping for a photo opportunity here and there I arrive at the first seat to enjoy the views of Havelock and the estuaries.
Thinking about the Big chair that Steve Makin often rides to I’m mindful to notice how the ‘world of chairs’ is on this journey?!
 Another 20 mins and I’m at the summit of the climb. I sidle around the face of the hill to another chair giving views of the Pelorus Sounds and the first spots of rain begin to fall…
Now the track descends for the next 5 km and the mind sharpens with the twisting turns moving past several more waterfalls. Weaving in out of large trees, the WTB Horizon tyres twitching on the clay & leaf litter sections give a sense of boyish joy.
Pulling out some of the old cx postures to get around the last few tight corners I exit to cross the main highway, then complete a new section I’d not previously ridden which takes me parallel to the Beach.
This section passes 5 more chair opportunities with various views of the inner Pelorus Sounds.
Now on a flatter section, whizzing past little seaside settlements. Mostly holiday batches dispersed with several Artisans that craft their jewellery & carving.
Next the ride moves through more dairy farms with cattle grazing on lush growth.
Passing a couple of riders heading in the opposite direction I stop outside the newly re-opened Queen Charlotte Tavern with all the desired refreshments available, and now with WiFi!
I opt for the banana and honeyed water before heading off…
2 km of quiet country road before the next single track section. To the right is a road that leads to Cullinsville. Previously a gold mining settlement that was quite the destination in the mid 1800’s (more details in another blog post me’thinks?!)
Past the local garage and the Link Water school appears. Just as I’m about get into the single track a roadie belts past with a quick hello.
Back on to the pathway and the sound of dedicated gravel provides a very pleasant vibration through the 650b tyres, now at the lowest pressure I’ve ever run them (front 25psi- rear 35psi) I’m smiling like a smiley thing 🙂
I get to thinking about tyres and wheel size… The 650B on a drop bar bike does truly feel like some kind of Nirvana state. The suppleness is a true revelation mixed with the snappy playfulness (thanks to Steve Makin for this) Recommended periodically over a couple of years, I pounced on the Kona Rove (being the most accessible bike available at the time in this wheel size) and got the last large size in New Zealand!
Back to the Sea again, I pass through the link water settlement proper and drop down to a boat shed on the beach for a drink and to put my jacket on as the rain steadies.
The views are to the inner Queen Charlotte Sounds across to the Outward Bound school.
There are several youngsters on the wharf fishing as I head off to more newly finished track. Views down to the beach whilst riding through Beach Forest and the frequency of newly installed chairs planting mental notes for future meal stops!
Off and on crossing of the main scenic road to continue the journey is the theme for the next hour before the descent to Shakespeare Bay. Exiting to another newly installed chair and table I make a call.
A small climb to another popular lookout, and another 2 newly installed chairs with beautiful vistas. The final descent to Picton, ride past cafés to load bike. Change of clothes, Fish & Chips on the lap parked on the waterfront with rain pelting down…
The ‘world of chairs’ in summary…
Count was 26 Chairs. No Big Chairs, but BIG VIEWS!!!
Words and pictures – Paul Nicholls

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