Breakfast at 8.15am and it was delicious, fresh farm eggs, great bacon and a venison patty that was lean and very tasty. Just the ticket for a day's riding although 56km today seems like paradise being pretty much half yesterday's distance and miles less than our daily average so far of 91km. Rene snapped a picture of us with publican Cynthia Robins who presented us with a cheque for $100 for the cause from her and partner Phil Lemmon. Then we jumped on the bikes and headed down the road for our first leg… 26km into Greymouth.
The rain was hosing down so our rain coats supplied by Avanti Plus were a welcome addition to our riding wardrobe. Riding down through the town to the main road was all downhill, a great way to ease ourselves into the day. Oh oh! Immediately after turning right onto the main highway we hit our first hill. By the time we reached the top we were well warmed up so it was a blessing in disguise. The ride to Greymouth was on tar seal and mainly flat but with a couple of pretty decent climbs. 2km of road works slowed us a little but it took just a tad under 1.5 hours to reach town. It had rained all the way, the temperature had dropped and a strengthening northerly all combined to make conditions a little tougher.
Crossing the bridge over the Grey river into Greymouth I snapped a picture of Tony and Virginia with the town and the harbour bar at their backs, which captured the volatility of the day perfectly. In town we spoke with a local woman to seek advice to the best coffee and café food around. Her first priority was to give Virginia $10 for the cause then she sent us around the road to Bonsai (no Japanese food or relationship at all so a surprising name). The coffee and food were great and Rene had arranged with the local Avanti Plus bike agent to store our bikes while we refuelled.
Back on the bikes but this time wearing our arm warmers to ward off the cooler wind. The 30km second leg to Kumara took us around the inner harbour and back into the teeth of the bustling northerly wind (slowed riding to 8km hour) that was predicted to strengthen to gale force as the day wore on. Good news for us given once we rounded the harbour entrance exposed to the ocean and bar, we would head directly south and have the northerly at our backs. The cycle track runs parallel to the main highway south with the ocean on our right so we could see the wild nature of the west coast on an inclement day, stretching down the coast further than the eye could see. Virginia set a cracking pace and had us averaging 25km per hour. In just 55 minutes we were at the 20km mark where we turned inland to Kumara via a purpose built off road cycle track traversing the bush that would make up the final 10km of our journey. It was peaceful riding with no noise and contact, however there was a continuous slight incline so we slowed to around 14km average, no matter, we were on target for a much needed very early finish. We stopped only once, at a suspension bridge (built in 2014) that spanned a deep chasm flowing into the Taramakau River (see picture) and apropos the heavy rainfall of the last 18-hours the river was high and mighty.
We arrived at Theatre Royal Hotel and checked in before getting back on our bikes to pedal 500 metres down the road to our 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom cottage, luxury after our small bedrooms and basic facilities at the Blackball Hotel (with all the charm of yesteryear and spotlessly clean). The site of a bath was heaven sent to Virginia who had brought a few bags of Epsom salts to soak our weary bodies after a hard days ride… trouble is this was the first bath of our journey so far. Needless to say we both enjoyed a long soak, which hopefully will ease some of the muscle soreness from 6 consecutive days of riding.
We're booked into the hotel for dinner tonight and by all reports the food is excellent. A good night's sleep and we'll be strong for tomorrows ride to Cowboy Paradise (have lunch there) and onto Hokitika.