We had made arrangements with the local publican's wife the night before that if we were at the restaurant door at 8.00am she would have a hearty cooked breakfast ready for us and she was true to her word. Bacon, eggs, sausage, hash browns and buttered toast, we had only been seated for 10 minutes and all five of our meals rolled out of the kitchen simultaneously. All quality local ingredients perfectly cooked and generously portioned, so much so we could not finish it all so took with us three sausages and two hastily constructed bacon sandwiches from the remains of our breakfast. The owners generously gave a donation to the cause and we managed to get a picture with them out front of their hotel, salt of the earth country people.
All packed up we departed on our bikes at 9.25 with a big day ahead. We hung a left from the camping grounds and rode 20km over sealed road travelling 20 minutes faster than the day before for our first 20. After stopping for a rest and refuel we headed down a gravel road for the next 20km. Several kilometres down we began a long slow ascent, never steep enough to make us get off our bikes and walk but very constant and probably around 10km to the summit.
Flying down the other side we intersected with the main highway turning right and enjoying a downhill ride of 6km to Kawatiri Junction (we had clocked up 46km in 3 hours). Rene and Denise had dropped into a local café and purchased 3 beautifully fresh and tasty chicken, salad and mayo wholemeal bread sandwiches, generous in size and dam tasty. While getting lunch they informed the owner and a visitor of our ride for Hospice and they duly handed over $100 and $20 respectively. We managed to eat those sandwiches plus the bacon sandwiches left over from breakfast. There were zillions of bumble bees (almost plague like) at the junction and we were besieged by them, so were soon back on the bikes for our remaining 50km to Murchison.
The first 6km was down state highway 6 and the traffic was heavy, and in parts the shoulders non-existent so the traffic came uncomfortably close at times. 99% of the drivers were careful but there is always one idiot and this one was towing a trailer with a saloon racing car on it and he got within 6 inches of Virginia on a sliding, dipping corner while doing around 70km. It gave her a good fright and she certainly quickened the pace to Gowan Valley Road where we turned left off the highway and headed 11km inland on sealed backroad bringing us to the T-junction linking us to the Braeburn track. It was 33 degrees and the heat was fiercely rising off the road so we were drinking electrolytes and water by the gallon. Rene and Denise had run dry of water in the support vehicle but had managed to catch up with a local named Chris who graciously opened his house for them to replenish in time for our arrival.
Loaded up with cool water and electrolytes we bade farewell to Chris who commiserated with us having to climb over the saddle of the Braeburn track which he described as brutal. We managed to ride up around 2.3km of the 3km, 250m elevation, in the end it's the loose metal that prevents you from getting traction that is your undoing. All though it was bloody steep and the temperature hit a high of 36 degrees as we crossed the summit. The downhill was a fun 8km and very steep in places, but the road was in good condition so we were able to ride down it averaging 27km per hour. Crossing over 4 concrete water fords at 20km per hour during the descent the cool mountain water was incredibly refreshing and welcome as it splashed up over our legs and lower bodies, providing temporary relief from the burning heat.
When we turned left into Tutaki road the sign said 22km to Murchison (still gravel but largely flat or downhill), we travelled down Tutaki for 6km then right onto Mangles Road (sealed) for a 13km run down to the main highway. 5km before the highway we caught up with Rene and Denise one last time to replenish drinks and to consume the last of out snacks.
Getting back on the bike I was a bit too casual (heat stroke we'll call it) and lost balance while mounting it with the right leg still caught in the cleat (locks your shoe to the pedal) and I fell straight over with the bike on top of me. Tony and Virginia had already had a spill on day one so I was overdue. A couple of small grazes and an aching knee, but not enough to halt progress. The remaining 5km to the main highway and additional 5km down to Murchison took around 25-minutes. As we swung into the motel Rene and Denise had already put all our gear into the rooms and immediately relieved us of our bikes so we could head straight for the shower, a magical experience when you've been riding 96km over many hills in gruelling heat… what would we do without them.
Afterwards we shot into town for dinner at River Café and quickly let owner Jude know about the ride and our cause, when our meals arrived at the table the servings were huge. After a day of riding the likes of which we had experienced, a large, mainly protein based (big rib eye steak perfectly cooked) meal is ideal. Jude is a local and was ble to give Virginia and Denise some valuable information about tomorrows ride to Spring Junction, which helps hugely in our preparations and knowing where best to stop for breaks. She further showed her generous spirit by donating $50 cash to the cause. Home for a small Pinot Noir then into bed by 9.00am for another big day tomorrow.