Pot of gold…

A month or so ago I stumbled upon a genuine pot of gold!

I didn’t follow a rainbow, nor did I have to journey (Indiana Jones style) to any far flung exotic location.

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Charlie Chadwick is a name I was already vaguely familiar with. As a member of the ‘Rough Stuff Fellowship’ I was aware that Charlie was a founding father, perhaps THE founding father?

Digging around online one evening I stumbled upon the Veteran Cycle Club website, a treasure trove of information and a true ‘rabbit hole’ of which to get lost within.

Of most interest to me was the JPMPF section of the site, a publishing trust fund set up in memory of John Pinkerton who died in 2002 (The objective of the Fund is to continue the publishing activities initiated by John) – to publish historical material on the development of the cycle and all types of related activities. Items published include reprints of cycling journal articles, manufacturer’s information e.g. catalogues etc…

Brilliant!

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The books that instantly caught my eye were the ‘Pre War Cycling Diaries of Charlie Chadwick’ by a chap called David Warner. I immediately googled David’s name in relation to Charlie and struck gold!

David has a website devoted to Charlie’s life, writings and drawings that can be found here… Charlie Chadwick

I won’t spoil it by writing anymore about David or Charlie as, if you’re interested enough, you’ll undoubtedly leave this page and do your own immediate research. I also feel I would be doing a disservice to David. His site and the books he has helped bring to life have everything you need to know.

What I will say is this…

Charlie was and is an inspiration, as close to a cycling hero as you’re ever likely to find. An added personal bonus for me is the fact that Charlie was a Northerner and rode many of the lanes and trails that I too now ride and enjoy.

David is also, just as much of a hero in my eyes. For preserving and sharing such a wonderful piece of cycling history he should be applauded. Thank you David.

There are currently 4 volumes of Charlie’s diaries. I’m halfway through volume 2 and delightedly received volumes 3 & 4 in the post this morning. I’ve read an enormous amount of cycling related books and text over the years, but these wonderful little books beat them all by a country mile. The writing is effortless, romantic, funny and honest.

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Charlie is my hero, and these little books my new treasures.

Words and pictures – Paul Rance.

 

 

 

 

Go West…

From one of our New Zealand correspondents.

The theme for a weekend Ride & Catch-up with friends newly ensconced to the West coast of the South Island.

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Alarm set at 4 am Saturday morning, bikes and gear packed Friday night.
A quick meal of oats/porridge a fruity blend number for breakfast.
Another quick look at the forecast, still giving a rather damp outlook that had been unchanged for most of the week.
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A few bottles of wine gathered together from an assortment of boxes in the garage and we are set.
The music spotifying some kiwi dub sounds with Blackseeds as we (Donna/Wifey ) & I head towards lake Rotoiti 100km up the road for the first pit stop.
Getting away early we avoid the masses of traffic now using this road since the main East coast highway has been out of action with the big 7.8 earthquake.
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Nearing the lake we see flashes of lightning tracing across ink black skies, giving outline of the high mountains in this Alpine wonderland.
The rain starts in light at first then wipers are ramped up to cope with a heavier shower as we pass through lake Rotoiti Township.
Murchison Township is the next village that will have coffee, we push on to arrive a little after 7am just as the doors are opening. Satisfied with the caffeine fix and a stretch we set sail for Westport.
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With daylight the ride through the Buller Gorge is stunning with misty mountains and torrents of water flowing down this mighty Gorge.
Arriving in Westport a little after 9am with blue skies and warm temperature,
a breakfast sorts the hunger pains. Car fuelled and off up the coast we head.
First stop is the small mining Township of Granity to catch Pauline and the West coast cats.
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With a note left to catch up later we head to Ngakawau Township just several km’s further. Turning off past the Charming Creek Tavern and further up a gravel road we find the small car park that is the start of the Charming Creek ride.
Wheels put on bikes, loaded and geared up we head off, but not from the Ngakawau end.
I decide to ride the coast high road up to Mokihinui Township as to give a little ease for Donna in the climbing department.
The weather going against all the predictions and giving bright sunshine with just a little cloud it’s t-shirt weather as we amble up the coastline admiring views in all directions.
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Heading past Mokihinui we head for Seddonville Tavern further up the valley.
This is also the End (or start) of the Old Ghost Road trail.
Passing the tavern and scattered cottages we get into the valley proper and a lovely gravel road rises steadily giving grand views and the sound of streams feeding into the main Mokihinui River.
With a few stops for Donna we make the high point after an couple of hours of riding.
A nice gravel road descent to the carpark which is the beginning of the Charming Creek Trail from this end.
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The trail is an assortment of relics which were related to Coal mining. The heyday for full mining operations was 1929 after other mines nearby were less viable.
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There is good imformation at various stops through the trail giving accounts of day to day life and the trials & tribulations of a hard yacker!
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The trail follows the railway that carried the coal out. Sleepers giving the regular beat as our bikes pass over. With some sections requiring a little more concentration to negotiation, the new Continental Race King tyres recently fitted coping well with the slippery edges.
Dappled sunshine trough the coast forest gives a feeling of travelling through an ancient novel of adventure.
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The air is  invigorating, with the river a constant companion roaring over huge boulders. Native birds darting about in song and feasting on native flowers and insects.
Passing through tunnels we break out into views of a magnificent waterfall with cooling spume all around, sounds like thunder. We try to find words to describe, but settle on just being there.
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Moving on we pass over another of the numerous swing bridges to get beautiful views of the sheer steepness of the environment and marvel at the tenacity of the work that went into pushing the railway line through this landscape.
Another 40 minutes and we head into the lower valley and the widening track that gives a most pleasant coast through grassupthemiddle on the old track.
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Arriving at the car after a very special day with the sun still shining we pack bikes back on car, clean ourselves up and head up the road to Mokihinui Tavern for a meal and book in for a nights accommodation.
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With night setting in and the fire giving off a steady flame, we hear the rain start in as our meals arrive. A cheers with a couple of apple ciders and a celebration of a fabulous day in a unique part of the world.
Words and pictures – Paul Nicholls

Ol’ Pointless…

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A gift, a jewel, each visit delights anew

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Leading nowhere, yet everywhere

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Known and loved by chosen few.

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She is our nirvana, our sleeping queen,

A royal flush in our hands

As beautiful as mountains high or coastal golden sands.

A strain of pure gold at Cheshire’s core

She’s a super charged tonic, that’s for sure!

Hidden, silent, wonderful

She’s everything and more.

Words – Paul Rance

Pictures – Steve Makin & Paul Rance

 

Salvation Through Cycling…

957428EF-0F75-4C09-B208-F363848D6AB6I’m an academic (Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow) working on antiquarian forgery. As with any academic, work may seem easy, particularly given I don’t have a teaching workload, though it never leaves you alone: there is always the next book and essay/article to write; volume of collected essays to edit; conference paper to propose and/or write; archive to visit to organise/undertake to conduct manuscript research; field trip to organise/undertake. If I had to write a list of everything that I had to do, well, it’d be terrifying. Just press on and lurch from one urgent priority to another without loosing sight of the bigger picture. As I work on material culture, and I’m an Art/Architectural/Design Historian, my brain is always taking in everything that I see and assessing its relevance to what I’m interested in/what I’m working on. It’s not a 9-5 job, but a black-hole-like life-consuming job.

31F967E9-A150-48AB-8D8E-A308706989BFCycling is my release from this world where my brain is otherwise constantly on and I’m working mentally, if not physically. But over the course of 2017 this release has taken on a very different form and appearance. This is based entirely upon a change of situation last year, the people that I met, and various things that happened. I moved to Manchester in September 2016 having spent 14 years in Scotland, mostly in St Andrews, though with six months in Inverness and a year in Stirling: this move south, and joining the Rapha CC have been the most formative and influential steers upon my cycling.

2A0A300A-EC95-419A-A5F1-B85477EEB98DIn December 2016 I undertook a power profile test, organised by the RCC coordinator, Joe Cox. In January 2017 I took the guy who performed the test and analysed the data on as my coach. 12,500km (hard training and racing) later this year, and I’m a different person. My cycling is almost entirely unrecognisable from even six months ago. It’s still a release from my life, but rather than taking in views and chatting to other cyclists on a club ride, I’m doing long and progressively harder intervals. No longer do I care about the roads that I ride to discover new places, which I would have done before, and ride new roads/lanes/hills, but I ride out to roads/lanes where I know I can achieve certain intervals at certain powers for certain durations. The discovery is no longer scenic, but physically internal; can I really keep 450w going for 5mins x4 in a 3h ride, or complete 3x 10mins at 400w? Where I ride is almost entirely irrelevant. Numbers are King. It’s a world of physical pain and endurance that I’ve never, ever, experienced in my life.

3759FF4C-5701-43CE-81AC-2C96E737F742This may sound like I’ve lost the heart and soul from my bike riding, but the mental and physical impacts are incredible. There is no mental capacity to do anything other than pushing the pedals and burying myself yet further in pain. The net result is that I’m entering races…TTs, road races, and crits, and physically pushing myself. Every TT has scored a PB, I’ve won a road race (couldn’t believe it at the time), and also placed in the top 10 in the local, Tameside, Crit. My training and racing has given me something to strive for outside of work, and I’m reaping the rewards physically, mentally, and in terms of work/life balance. I’m now no longer just an academic, but a racing academic. And I don’t want this to change, because it gives me a balance in life. Even getting caught up in a crash during a road race this week in Nottinghamshire was a blessing in disguise. I didn’t finish, didn’t score any points (though I don’t need any more for the year) and didn’t come away unscathed, but it emphasised what the fine balance is between the fierce serenity of a peloton going along hard, and what can happen on the flip of a coin.

 

63628320-0D90-4CD9-955A-D82608DADAAA (1)My commitment to training, racing, and continual improvement has made me a much better, more competent, and more competitive cyclist. I know my physical strengths and weaknesses now like I’ve never done before, and I know my body inside out…a wiredly aware connectivity.

D67F9EB9-0A49-49ED-A78A-AF8BE6D90A3E (1)So how has this saved me? Nearly five years ago, I came back from working in Germany to find my marriage over, that I was also jobless, homeless, and directionless. I had no idea what to do and where to go. One year later, still without any firm direction, save returning to St Andrews to do some small amount of teaching at the University, I took up cycling again. It gave me a way to direct my anger and frustration. Skip forward four-and-a-half years and I’m a different person. The ex-wife’s actions caused years of destructive pain and suffering, but without this I wouldn’t be the scholar and cyclist I am today. I lack the physical talents of others, but this suffering has given me the capacity to ride hard, and enjoy riding hard.

IMG_0067I do ride lanes with grass up the middle, particularly around my parents’ home in N.Wales, but give me an airstrip, junction-less roads, or the A55 early Sunday morning for a TT, and you’ll see a painful grimace coming from the effort of pushing the pedals hard. In between intervals, I do appreciate clipping through ancient villages and passing interesting churches.

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Words and pictures – Peter N. Lindfield.

I am a pro cyclist…

It’s on loose terms that I can claim to be a pro cyclist but being paid to ride your bicycle is none the less a privilege I have been lucky enough to relish once a week for several sunny months. I jumped at the chance to lead a ride from work and each and every time I have ridden, they have been an absolute joy and I always return with a grin on my face. No week has been the same and I’ve met some real characters. There isn’t much space for resentment in this role but none the less I found myself dreading the arrival of an enthusiastic customer on one fateful Sunday toward the end of my stay in first year university halls.

Along with the rich social opportunities in university halls came too some juicy and nutritious boozing opportunities, the most ridiculous of which I completed the night before my weekly Sunday lead. The legendary tower challenge of Fallowfield’s Owen’s Park campus involves drinking one shot for every floor of the tower starting from the top and attempting to descend to the ground floor. Thanks to my youthful appetite I could neatly line my stomach with a good 6 dinners to soak up some mistakes and as such I made it to floor 10 still going strong unlike my compatriots. As soon as my shameful lack of intoxication became known I was persuaded to bash out double shots for the next four floors.

Needless to say, it ended well and I woke up the following morning with 12 minutes to get to work. I arrived 6 minutes late which I’m quite proud of and with no breakfast or water or shower, it didn’t take long for my colleagues to ask how my Saturday night had gone. With 10:00am looming I readied myself for the inevitable with a lovely poached egg on toast and in rolled the charming Peter Batley. As I’d sent all my gear and two out of three bikes home the previous week I lead the ride on my mighty Surly Wurly Straggler complete with rack and Carradice which in the circumstances was exactly what I needed to be able to enjoy the ride.

We cruised through the glorious June sun chatting away about his work at the velodrome and riding opportunities around his home in Glossop. It was brilliant to exchange stories of big morning commutes his from Glossop to the Velodrome in Manchester and mine from Bristol to Shepton Mallet over the Mendips. At the velodrome, it transpired that Peter is one of the sports scientists responsible for assessing the GB rider’s positions and we shared a giggle about his habit of quietly critiquing riders at local TTs. Once we found a nice clear road, I got the chance to demonstrate just how aero you can get on a Straggler if you were so inclined and was assured that my tips would be passed on to Jason Kenny. We arrived back having pedalled our way back into town down the canal talking about our summer plans and I felt a million times better having gone out and got some fresh air. I am yet to arrive back grumpy.

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In my own time, I generally class myself as a road rider who likes to smash it wherever possible. However, when it would be less than prudent to sod off up a big hill I like to amuse myself by doing silly stunts at the slower speeds that most of the customers prefer. Only two rides so far would I consider very slow but also in consideration of the purpose of the rides I would say these two have been the most successful. The first of these was the very first I took out and we had a father and son both called Andy who turn up on mountain bikes with normal clothes and back packs on. Our average speed for the ride was around 20kph and this was not helped by the fact that I had forgotten to consider that much of our route followed the Manchester Marathon on that day! Nevertheless, we soldiered on and their spirits did not falter despite it being their first longer ride. Andy the younger particularly enjoyed my no-handed track stands and dismounting to sit on the top tube while still moving like the Peter Sagan wannabe that I am. By the end of the ride, the pair of them were glowing about how much fun they had and by the following week both returned with brand new road bikes and kit. It was such a great feeling to be told that it was our ride which inspired them to get involved in road cycling beyond commuting.

The second of the leisure pace jaunts was with a lovely lady, new to Manchester who had just bought herself a road bike and was keen to get out and ride with others. Just as with both Andy’s, she was so enthusiastic to learn and at no point was it a drag to explain even the simplest things like using gears correctly. Like the child I am, I couldn’t help but give it the beans up a pair of hills on the way back which she was very gracious about and chuckled at the top while asking if I had beaten the records. Seeing as I never learn, I couldn’t help but pull a big skid when we crossed a small section of gravel down Pomona which nearly gave her a heart attack!! It was an absolute pleasure to hear her plans for her cycling and I am sure she will prove to be a credit to the fast-growing women’s cycling scene in Manchester and the UK.

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I often must remind myself just how lucky I am to call this role part of my job while so many people are stuck in dingy offices. It’s been a real privilege to introduce so many people into a new part of cycling or even to simply welcome to the city and the club. Besides that, I’ve only told everyone I know that I am now a pro cyclist. The asterisk can be left out for full effect.

Words and pictures – Toby Zeidler.

The Mad Cow…

From one of our New Zealand correspondents.

Wednesday.

20170726_172844-01The prospect of some heavy rain for Thursday with a whiff of snow passing up the country provides the impetus for this evening’s ride.

Not needing to get to town after work gave me a chance for an earlier departure than normal. Batteries charged, water bottle filled plus 1 QSM Bar for a bite reward later on…

Setting off up to a spot to join the trail for numerous route choices, I was getting the feel of a slight shimmy on the trail, the by product of heavy rain a couple of nights ago. Enjoying the slew front & back of the 2.1 rubber (after riding 27 plus & 3.8 for the last couple of years the re-programming is slowly coming up to speed)

Into the climb after several km’s of undulating winding track the focus switches to just this, enjoying the smell of damp earth, quail bursting into flight in quick succession as I break out into their haunt amongst the oaks…

Now another climb ahead for the next 20 mins, past ‘THE SPOT’ (just seeing what’s in the tank, incline) reminding of Steve M’s youthful burst of enthusiasm on his trip this last summer to NZ! Some zig & zag and a few minutes of flat(ish) before an easier climb to the Mt Vernon Traverse style. Lifting the Singular over the fence the evening light is again giving a great show.

2017-07-27 20.26.54Good to pause and catch the many hues of shadows and colourful light transitions, visible still the faint blue of the pacific ocean out through Rarangi Beach. Downing a few slurps of water, I switch to the 26t from the 32t manually, as is my setup. A few metres of flat then into a little hurter, getting over the front of the seat balancing the effort, holding the front down I get over the pinch to make the top whilst sucking in some deep breaths, a couple more of these to a slightly lesser extent before eyeing the Jane’s Seat climb.

Regardless of the hundreds of times I’ve done it I still give a sigh at this climb!

Away into it once more, the goal? to make it without touching a foot down as the front lightens up, choosing the most favourable line through ruts and a poor excuse for a smattering of #grassupthemiddle I’m into the last pinch with loose rock, the rear tyre breaking out as I manage to keep all things turning to make the seat with a quite wonderful vantage whilst sucking some more big ones and the audio of heart beating in the ears. More water to quench a now dry mouth, things settle to catch the sun disappearing over the horizon.

2017-07-27 20.22.42Now a sequence of smallish descents mixed with a more civilised climb I make my way around the ridge to a descent called ‘The Mad Cow’. With the light dimming, damp mixed with a fair amount of bovine I keep it steady to make the bottom in pretty clean shape, now the next 45 minutes is all ascent to the Mt Vernon summit. With the altitude increasing and exposure to the wind from the northwest the chill is becoming evident after an otherwise mild evening till now. Slowly grinding away through the mix of muddy & dry I delay turning my lights on till the last minute with Blenheim town now lighting up the last part of the climb I am rewarded with the summit.

20170726_201010Not sticking around I head towards the Airstrip…

All descent for the next 6km, I temper the usual speed to a safer pace with the wind pushing the Swift about. A closed gate gives pause again allowing me to take in the beauty of the night. Cows are wandering about as I pick my way through till the next gate, almost to the flat the wind has, as if by magic, gone!

Another gate, this time sheep are the theme. Wandering amongst the vineyard the track happens to pass through. Final style, then a catch up with messages to confirm I’m going to head out to the truckstop for tea as a plan on the fly as the hunger pangs kick in…

20minutes later, arriving at truckstop for tonights choice…  

20170726_185524Beans, eggs and bacon number. The busy flow of truckies providing good entertainment despite the TV front & centre with game show playing…

Shortly later the Mrs shows up for a similar meal and a catch-up on the days events.

“Thanks for the Kai, see you again next ride” to the cook, lights on and away…

Back into a steady rhythm on the main road for a time and I’m soon back on the cycle path, following vineyards I exit onto a new path to take me through to the river, past the dairy that is a regular milkshake stop in the summer I drop onto thick grass before finding the track covered with river debris from a recent flood. Past the Raupo restaurant, a frequent coffee haunt and home to the best pork belly meal in town. On to boardwalks then back to paved cycle path which is part of the national cycle trail.

2017-07-27 20.48.39Tonight is unusually quiet with very few walkers and just a couple of fellow cyclists with whom I exchange evening greetings. A quick deviation takes me onto the local cycling track for 3 laps, enjoying the speed of the 29er on the paved surface I exit onto a muddy path to find the cycle trail once more.

Continuing up towards the mountain bike park I weave in and out of the trees in the last section, exiting before the park. Not wanting the ride to be over the local Dam seems a good choice to ride past, getting onto 3km of gravel before heading into the park and another 4km of track before exiting into the car park and an easy wind down for the 1km before home. Looking down at the GPS…

9pm. 40km & 641 metres climbed for the day feels good, the pro4″s singing as I turn into the drive.

Words & pictures – Paul Nicholls.

 

Any chance of a feed..?

From one of our New Zealand correspondents.

Friday’s end of work meeting was over a little later than usual.

The 20 minute drive from the Waihopai Valley back into town gives me a chance to digest a little of the days happenings and unwind with the radio playing a piece of Faure and Bartok finshing just a few metres from home.

Garage door rolls up and I set about getting riding gear sorted for Friday nights 2 passes ride.

A well known local training loop on quiet roads .

Kit sorted I readied myself for the cool evening ride after a severe weather front was still moving over the country with snow closings  roads south  & north.

Wheeling the Singular Swift out with the brand new Rockshox 100mm fork, that wave of new component expectation brought a smile and an audible  (Yer Baby!)

15 metres down the drive to the footpath and on to the gravel bike path then back to tarmac, heading to a variation on the usual route.

Five minutes of slight incline and I join the Mapp track after one gate stop.

The motion of the Swift quickly gives the feedback I’ve been expecting with the new fork smoothing out the front end over rough ground undulations.

Pushing harder the Mapp track joins the Old Rifle Range section, skirting under tracks that head higher up into the main mountain bike park.

Stopping in a grove of gums & wattles  for a selfish 🙂 shot on cell phone.

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The days light fading at 5.20pm.

 

The way through the remaining track gives a feeling of contentment with the day.

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Exiting the track back onto the Taylor Pass Road for the climb to the pass the changing sky gives a beautiful red glow. Resting the Swift against the wire fence in thick grass the quiet of evening is making its presence felt with the sound of cows close by pulling the grass into their mouths and raising their heads as I scoot off.

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Steady undulations for the next 7km leaves the tarmac for gravel.

Climbing at a steady pace a small descent through a ford with a reasonable depth of water gives a cold spray through the gap in the seat .

Another 8km of climbing see’s the pass summit. No hint of the usual beads of sweat, the slight breeze coming from the Awatere side gives the heads up this is going to be a rather cool section on tonight’s ride.

A quick bite on a QSM snackbar. Helmet light on to complement the bar light for the descent to the Awatere road.

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In the summer this is a welcome relief from the heat. But this evening the windchill is icy to the core.

Passing through a section that opens out to wider vista’s the clear skies with light from the stars and moon reveals the outline of snow capped mountains.

Tapiuanuku is most visible. The mountain Sir Ed Hillary spent training on before his Mt Everest Climb.

Onto main Awatere road I set to pumping pedals at a good rate to try and generate some body heat after a 20 minute decent.

Passing by well established vineyards I cross over the main highway heading to the Redwood Pass.

Getting closer to the coast the smell of sea air is chill with the weather flow passing through Cook Straight (The Body of ocean between North & South Islands)

The usual comfortable warm gloves have met their match and a steady ache in the hands is becoming very apparent as I start climbing The Redwood.

The sound of gravel under tyres giving some relief with a bit of effort required to summit.

At the top, snack bar finished and hands inside jacket to ease the ache.

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Readied for the last 7km descent and I’m away.

The other theme for the night continues with possums in abundance on the roads.

Swooping around a corner at a steady speed I intersect 2 of them during their road antics. A quick glance back seeing them running in ever decreasing circles.

Now I’m on the flat and back onto the main highway. I head the 19 minutes to the Truckstop Cafe.

Pulling up, taking kit off an elderly lady says bit cool out there mate. Before she attempts to cough a lung up while holding a cigarette.

“Yep” I reply between gasps.

Any chance of a feed? Sure she replies. Go in and make yourself self a brew. I’ll be there in a tick.

The warmth on entering was very welcome.

Sitting at the table the hot mug of tea gave the desired effect to chilled hands.

Listening to truck drivers chatting about road closures and other war stories of the storm.

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A plate of bacon & eggs a pair and a “get that into ya love”.

$14 was a great price for a well cooked meal. The warmth spreading as the body welcomed this new arrival. It’s been a while since a small tin of tuna & snack biscuits for lunch.

The planned path for the last part of the ride changed for the shortest route through Blenheim.

Missing out the usual cycle paths & tracks I was entering the Taylor Pass once more. Riding the footpath before turning into our driveway I notice a heavy dew settling on the grass verge.

Words and pictures – Paul Nicholls.