Finally we were off our mammoth trek and onto the bikes. I was sort of looking forward to this stage in some ways as the riding was going to be easy, we were going to clock up a good distance and once it was done it would be good to have a sizable chunk of the race behind us. By this stage of the race I was pretty glad to see the doctor again. My wrist was now quite sore and swollen and some exposed wounds on my hands needed a bit of attention. The concussion was all but behind me I though but I was feeling a little bit worse for wear which I couldn’t tell was from general tiredness or just from concussion.
It was pretty good to get some real food down us too before we jumped on the bikes and rode out of there. Somehow we were still ahead of Auckland Uni but they were a bit ahead of us on sleep, which is probably how they were ahead of us! The first part of the ride was a hot and dusty grind up the hill. Parts of the hill were a bit steep to ride so I assumed towing position to keep the team moving in a forward direction. After the hill Nathan took over the towing while we rode on and on along the dusty road. Amy had a few problems with her shoes and clipping out and getting Dave’s carrier and gears needed a fair bit of attention so we spent a good chunk of time stop starting until eventually we reached the old sod cottage. Time for a short break, refill with water and then on the road again, just as the Aucklanders turned up.
I really enjoyed the next section of the ride, cruising along as the sun was going down. Amy and Nathan had a slight incident on the bikes while towing up hill and more time was spent trying to fix the shoes and carrier once again. On the other side of the hill we came across a team with a guy with a broken ankle contemplating their future, waiting for help to arrive. Good thing Auckland Uni had two doctors and were right behind us! Soon enough darkness set in and the right turned into a bit of a grind, but we also made some really good progress with the goal to have a break at Acheron we kept moving without stopping for a good chunk of time and really got some momentum going. The stop at Acheron was definitely welcome after long hard push in the late evening and just as we left Auckland Uni showed up, race on. It was pretty cold in the river valley so the tempo got up pretty quickly, and we closed in on the other guys and a battle ensued. For the first time in the race it actually felt like a race, we were moving fast and making good ground. Nathan was flying along towing Amy up the hill like a man possessed! We flew past them and up and over Jollies Pass in double quick time.
Hanmer was all closed up by the time we rolled in at midnight so there was no time for mucking around, it was onto the tar seal and up to the next transition moving again how I thought we would move the whole race, as a team rotating the work. A short stop on the main highway seemed to break the momentum for me and I couldn’t keep the pace and the we reverted back to a team of fractured individuals drifting along. I was pretty glad that we were on the road at night, in the early morning as there was only about 3 cars/trucks that came past us. Finally we rolled into the transition, ready for another rest, ready for the next stage!
Waking up after a second nights sleep was fairly difficult and I think now along with everything else ( Concussion, Wrist, cuts, rib/shoulder) I felt like I was getting a cold… Once going again in the early morning it wasn’t long before we warmed up. Somehow in the confusion of transition we misplaced the second set of maps, and as I was not feeling in a great state I felt it was best to let Amy take charge of the navigation for a while.
Eventually we made our way up the hill, grinding away once again. I wasn’t so keen on the straight up the hill approach, have always been much more of a fan of keeping the speed up and covering a little more ground as a result, but it was much of a much-ness anyway once we had made a short stop for sunscreen and some food.
Once on the tops it became decision time. We had changed from our original plan and opted to go for traveling along the tops as opposed to through the green and un-tracked river valley. I had been thinking this over while on the first trek as after having seen the terrain I kind of got an idea of how it was going to be to move through it. I assumed that they intended us to either travel the tops or take a risk in the river valley. Interestingly enough the route they picked on the GPS tracking was my original plan as to where I thought we should go after just looking at the map….so maybe we should have stuck with that?!