Today was always going to be a challenge as New Zealand was urged to brace for a subtropical storm bringing heavy rain, gales and potential coastal flooding to most of the North Island. Ideal cycling weather NOT!
I had woken around 2 am listening to the wind and by 3 am Sue and I were engaging in wide conversation ranging from storms to life in general. Sue being a midwife even started counting the time in between storm gusts. The gap was increasing so reverse labour!
Sue went back to sleep but not this little birdie!
After some discussion re catching a bus, we decided to give it a crack leaving around 8.50 am. It was a nice ride out of town as the wind was either behind us or to the side.
However with a few left turns it was soon all pure headwind and gusts. Rain was imminent.
I laboriously read trip notes trying to work out alternatives. At the 25 km mark we turned into Tapapa Road which was to be the cathartic section. It was a gradual 5 km climb along a road that somewhat resembled an English lane.
The rain bucketed down. The side gusts were determined and savage at times. I got blown off the road and was able to decleat just in time.
By the time I reached the junction with Highway 5 I knew we needed to take safe and secure action. We were fortunately close to the Glades Cafe some 800 metres off course and did not hesitate to shoot off down the road.
We sat at a table where we could see our precious babies and enjoyed food.
Whilst sipping my coffee I noted an airport shuttle bus and a cattle track had both pulled into the car park. Hmm I thought, nothing ventured, nothing gained!
So I wandered around the cafe checking out all the patrons wondering what both drivers looked like. A truck would not be that bad…. surely? What is the going rate for two lovely, wet ladies in a cattle truck with two bikes?
I found the shuttle driver first and had a conversation. Yes he was heading to Rotorua but would need head office permission…..$40 was the answer! You little ripper. Divine intervention? Normally the driver does not stop for coffee here, but stopped due to the severe nature of the weather.
So somewhat disappointed at bailing and abandoning the balance of 45 km, survival instinct and pure common sense was far more important.
All the way to Rotorua the shuttle was buffeted by strong winds. Limbs were down, leaf litter strewn around, lots of cars heading both ways with poor visibility present.
The street of our accomodation was blocked by a large tree that had suffered fatally during the storm.
We later found out someone was killed nearby when a tree crushed a car. Very sad.
Fortunately our B.B. opened their doors welcoming us many hours early, dashing off to make the beds. The warm shower was heavenly.
They later drove us into the Polynesian Spa where we spent a few hours chilling in the thermal pools. I do smell of sulphur now. The Priest acidic healing pool claims to reduce inflammation and swelling..and I do believe my battered and swollen knee is looking better.
Then we visited two bike shops. Took a bit of dragging to get me out of the Specialized shop but we remembered we needed to carry anything purchased. I do sport a nice new pair of gloves to match my Specialized shoes. Sue has a nice new rain jacket.
Of course if Sue had not left her rain jacket in Miranda then New Zealand would not have suffered the inclement weather. Cyclone Sue! So inverting that, now she has a rain jacket will the sun come out??
Time for a drink. I stopped a young fellow and asked him the best place to go… headed off there for a nice cool refresher.
After dinner we wanted to find Rotorua’s oldest pub to check out. Unsure where it was I nabbed the first guy who came out of the local backpackers. Ah but he was from Finland and spoke minimal English. A Monty Python Spamelot fan I did wonder if he knew the Fish Slapping song? Should I sing it?
In the meantime Sue had invited herself inside the backpackers and found a fellow who knew just where to send us… literally!!
The Pig and Whistle is housed in the former Police Station. Wait for a seat and we were able to sit and listen to live music for a short while.
Another pub another drink and time to head home with an Indian taxi driver who was on his work day in Rotorua and had no idea what was where. I suggested he turn the meter off and Sue suggested he google the address. Taxi driver induction 101!
Tomorrow looks dodgy..but we will proceed with dogged determination, grit, fortitude and lots of laughter. Plan B… hmm…working on it!!