Sunday - Taking it easy
So we were only 443km from Christchurch but we still had to make sure that we hit or exceeded the 2,000km to qualify for our TT badges. But having done around 200km on the Friday night and 1,000 odd on Saturday, Sunday was going to be a pretty easy day.
Still, we were up earlyish and on the road at about 7:10 - but not for long. Our first stop was for some fuel in Alexandra - a very short 9km or so up the road.
Tanks filled it was time to make our way to Patearoa. This meant riding through another famous bike riding locale, Chatto Creek and then turning off at Omakau to take a "short-cut" through the Ida Valley. This turned out to be a gem of a ride and I am still kicking myself for not having the camera running or stopping for some pictures. We climbed up on top of some hills and could see right across the valley to the other side. Early morning fog, a bright sunny day and glorious scenery made for one of the most spectacular moments of the trip. Kick, kick, kick...
Next the GPS's took us on a bit of a wild goose chase in Maheno until we finally got onto Kakanui Valley Road which was to take us back Westwards and inland to our next checkpoint. The road out to Mount Dasher got pretty narrow and "rural" but still managed to take us through some nice country.
Leaving Mount Dasher we had to really trust the Zumo's as the route we took quite a few turns on totally unfamiliar roads and didn't really want to end up on Danseys Pass (more gravel). But soon we were on a bit more of a familiar road to me - SH83.
SH83 gave us a quick ride into Kurow where we decided that it was time for an early lunch and I have to recommend the Cafe/Bakery in Kurow - I had a giant (and fabulous) roast pork sandwich and a coffee at a very reasonable price.
Our next hop was quite a dosey as we made our way through to Omarama, Twizel and Tekapo. This is easy riding through more fabulous scenery, the only issue is having to keep a sharp eye on the speedo as you could get carried away...
Rather than have another gravel excursion we rode back to the other turn-off and flashed out to pick up the 500 points. We then ignored the gravel (tempting as it was) a second time and retraced our steps back to the main road.
Our next stint took us through to Geraldine where we spotted a few of the other TT riders fuelling up. We tooted our horns and carried on out of town.
Now it was time to follow the inland scenic route along long, straight roads to Mount Somers. Luckily there is still nice landscapes to look at otherwise the ride could get a bit boring.
View 2013 TT2000 - Day Four in a larger map
Eventually we rejoined the main road and made our way through Ranfurly to the checkpoint at Patearoa.
Now it was time for another GPS created diversion...blindly following our route's, Brian headed off out of Patearoa and we were soon on gravel. I kinda expected him to stop and us have our usual roadside discussion on whether to proceed or re-route but he obviously had a hankering for some early morning gravel riding.
The gravel was actually in very good nick and apart from being showered in dust by a passing tanker and a 4WD we quickly ate up about 10km of gravel before finally making our roundabout way back to Ranfurly.
Back on SH85 (great, fast bit of road) we headed East and finally popped out on SH1 at Palmerston. We then turned North and started looking for our next fuel stop in Maheno. The gas station turned out to be a credit-card self-serve pump and after a bit of mucking around we sorted it out and got our tanks filled.
East of Tekapo it was time to turn off the main road again and pic up another 1,000 points at Haldon Road. Haldon Road involved a quick 16km squirt, a few pics at the bridge (not the checkpoint) and then a couple more pics (just onto the gravel) at the cattle stop which was the correct checkpoint.
Pics taken, it was time to turn around and ride the 16lm back to the main road and then a short ride onto Fairlie for some fuel - about 300km after our last fill.
Leaving Fairlie we had another GPS generated error. I rode straight past the turn-off to Ashwick Flat. It was in my GPS and should have been in the route (it is in the Mapsource file) but for some reason I did not get the instruction to take the turn.
Luckily as we rode along I noticed another sign (pointing up a gravel road) that read Ashwick Flat. I quickly pulled up and then Brian asked me why I hadn't taken the first turn for Ashwick Flat...
Mount Somers was our last checkpoint and it's 500 points value put us on 12,000 points (an extra 2,000 just to make sure) and left us with only about 120km until the finish.
More straight roads broken by the lovely Rakaia Gorge, some road works in the main street of Darfield (worse than the gravel we had ridden) and then more muddy road works in the outskirts of Christchurch and then it was all over. Brian and I were back 2nd and 3rd at around 4:30pm, beaten only by a DL650 rider who had ridden roughly 900km more than us and picked up darn nearly every checkpoint possible. We know who had more sleep...
TT over, it was time to catch up with other riders, provide our paper work and photos to Mike and relax as more of the guys came in. It was cool to hear some of the stories and certainly since we've been back we've heard the odd interesting tale...After a couple of hours yarning, a few snags and a cold drink, it was time to say cheerio to Mike and make for out motel for a shower and a bit of a breather...