It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country….

…since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.

Impressed?? Well that quote is not mine, but that of American novelist Ernest Hemingway. I agree with Ernest, as would most cyclists.

Do I like riding hills? No, they are painful! I’m not very good at them and given my knee issues I spin up in a low gear. Add on 10kg of weight, granny gears get a good work out. But there are normally nice views to enjoy.

Today was to be a day of short, sharp hills.  Here is my graph for the day.


Leaving my comfortable motel room I ventured by the bay for a glimpse on my way out.



I walked to the top of the first hill as I had not started riding and my legs were dead cold. Nice views.


Cruising down the hill to sit in the sun in front of the caravan from the previous days debacle…so I could use their wifi!! Well, I had paid a nights accomodation, so I did not feel guilty at all.


Today’s route was to take me around the Bay of Islands, encompassing more than 140 subtropical Islands, renowned for undeveloped beaches, game fishing and Maori  cultural artefacts.

In a 2006 study apparently the Bay of Islands was found to have the second bluest sky in the world…how do they measure that? Certainly well down the list today I would have thought…

Some photos from the journey…there is only so much one can say about climbing, but they do come with nice views and one unique letterbox.74A6267C-2D70-4843-AE9A-C6CCE54059434A2E3F1A-64C9-4B7C-BD0D-9186CDFD3DE064D9C235-3757-4A72-B415-98F1DC7A9AE1

This made me stop! Good for a laugh.

Short ride of only 50 km had me in Russell, an old whaling town just before noon (I slept in today!). I did a quick reccy and found a cafe to replenish me, with really good free wifi.  I finished yesterday’s blog there and stayed until they closed at 2 pm.

My accomodation tonight is just out of Russell at Tapeka…just head up the Main Street and keep riding.  Oh yeah, right! I took one look at the hill, got off my bike laughing, turned my Garmin on as I wanted to see what the steepest section would be gradient wise.

The above section peaked at 14 percent..then around the corner 19 percent

Now pictures are deceiving (very deceiving in this case as it looks quite rideable) when it comes to gradients, and the road twists with another section out of sight. The steepest bit came in at 19 percent..unrideable for me with or without luggage. So I walked…here is the graph.


Tapeka is a nice spot, with interesting geology and beaches. My accomodation is lovely with a nice shower and towels…the new benchmark!



I walked back into Russell for dinner, partly via a rainforest walks named “Jim’s”.



I had a great dinner at the local tavern, including dessert, only because Patrick told me to!!

Walking back up that same steep road, I detoured up to Flagstaff Park, a historic site. So not surprisingly there is a flagstaff at the top, with magnificent views.


An interesting history of the beleaguered flagstaff by Maori tribes.

I found a nice house to buy… I was impressed with the bath and view….I don’t have a bath in my house, but would love one sometimes to luxuriate in post a hard ride.

Looks like a massive bathroom, check size of the window.

Walking back through Jim’s I arrive in Tapeka. A survey on road usage is being conducted, with the same rigour as the recent Australian census fact, I reckon this method is pretty neat and probably more accurate, and very cheap to undertake.


Note that there are theee jars with different coloured lids.  The jar on the left contains shells. If you walked, cycled or ran into Russell, up the road, you take a shell out of the white lidded container and pop it into the black lidded container. So yes, in reverse the shell goes into the green container.  All the data is presented on public charts. Who needs statisticians?

So tomorrow I head off to Mangonui, or just past actually to Coopers Beach…100 km, 1218 metres climbing, with one longer climb over nearly 20 km.

A final note before I retire for the night….the lady who,owns this BnB suggested my bike could stay outside, unsecured, for the night.  Hmmpf, obviously not a cyclist. This is where my bike is now.

My bike is where it belongs!


4 thoughts on “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country….

  1. Mary Jones

    Fascinating, Sharon, to read of your journey. I am a cousin of Kay Wright (Yaxley) in Burnie, but live in Melbourne. Kay gave me your blog to follow and this is the first time I have commented.
    Our eldest son lives in Nelson, on the South Island, and we have visited him once. Hope to return before long at a mutually convenient time!!
    Keep up the peddling – up and down. I wish I had the stamina to achieve a fraction of what you have done – here and overseas!! I had a knee replacement 6 months ago and it has gone well. Can recommend a good surgeon in Melbourne who does ‘Rapid Knee and Hip replacements !)
    All the best as you continue onwards and upwards ! Stay safe take care – a mothers’ words ??


  2. Good morning Sharon seems like the Adventure may have taken a turn for the better with out the wretched rain and wind..Those hills are a conquest and a half.. I like this part of NZ well especially as it is untouched apart from some great orchards exporting and a fair few of my friends has a kiwi fruit orchard in Keri Keri which has been exporting to Australia for years. i will catch up with her in Tas this month..Understand about the towels i have a fetish of big fat clean yummy towels and decent water pouring down whilst showering..use to love a bath but the old bones do not allow now. reckon if I got down in i would be hard pressed to heave up and out..still I can take my enjoyment of reading of your great determination of being the best.xxxxx


  3. Jenni van Tienen

    Jon and I are on a local ride and stopped at the pub midway. We are getting a laugh out of your blog. Please keep writing and stay upright. Ps. I’m surprised the bikes not in the bed. Haha.


  4. What a writer you are. Absolutely love your blogs. You are a champion, admire your stamina and courage. Keep on keeping on honey. Much love to you, and stay safe my love. xxxxx


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