With your excellent eyes you’ll have noticed that Day 7 has been omitted. We took a rest day in Wellington and there isn’t much to say about it except that it was nice and we ate enough for around twelve boys.
We tootled off the next morning into the drizzle and a strong nor-west wind with Thomas Duppy and Geoffrey Notman, hugging the hills for warmth. We took a little detour to see Mike at Bike Hutt and update him as to our progress. He gave Geoffrey a coffee and Geoffrey enjoyed this.
Duppy retired for the day, citing that he was “as broke as s**t” and needed to work, so the remainder of our little group pushed through the rain for the Rimutaka rail trail. A gentle wee climb saw us to the summit for photos and a goodbye to Geoffrey before we plunged into the 600m long tunnel.
In our enthusiasm we decided to try and ride it without lights. I would compare this to trying to ride through space towards a distant star, except that there are invisible stone walls to crash into (which I did), an uneven ground surface, and Tom: somewhere. We emerged from our vivid hallucinations blinking and traumatised and begun our descent to the Wairarapa, Tom kicking out his feet like an old man as he skided away down the gravel track.
Pies in Featherston, Icecreams in Greytown, and a pair of babes in Carterton were all features of note. The babes even held a sign with our names on it, and a bag of candy for our constitutions. Thank you babes, we do it for you. We entered Masterton with our faculities intact and plotted our next move, which happened to be another 95km of Route 52…
Route 52, however, is quiet and beautiful, with smooth, rolling hills and excellent riding surface. Our moods ranged from upbeat to erratic based on the small candies I was developing a dependence on and I yammered non-stop for almost five hours. The views were long and peaceful and at 60kms we were treated to the sight of two small fallow deer by the road side who stopped and regarded us for a minute before hopping away into the bushes.
Eventually we ran into Tim, who was parked beside Glenross Lodge Backpackers, a side operation run by farmers Pauline and George just west of Pongaroa. Pauline had been impressed by what we were doing and as a result had offered us lodgings free-of-charge, as well as donating eggs and meat to the guts cause. We accepted gratefully and would like to recommend their place to anyone fortunate enough to be travelling along Route 52. While everybody we met in this region was friendly and helpful, Pauline and George really went the extra mile for us and their hostel is well equiped and cozy.
We capped off 190kms for the day and had taken a decent bite out of the North Island, putting us halfway along the LONZ route as a whole.
A beautiful sunset could only be matched by Tom’s radiance and we slept very heavily that night.