I knew that this one was going to be the hardest ride for my whole trip and the Strava results below definitely prove it. I gave myself 9 hours to arrive in Ohakune, including breaks, and there were three reasons it was so tough:
- Ridiculous elevation; more than a quarter of Everest, essentially it was going to be one big climb, just to get to the plateau that goes around Tongariro National Park.
- Cold weather; about ten degrees cooler than what I’ve been used to in NZ, so stopping for longer than a few minutes could mean trouble.
- No towns to stop at until Raetihi, which is 86km away from Wanganui
While I was staying in Wanganui, I shared my dorm with a lovely lady named Brenda, who really looked out for me. She was worried for me, as much as my own mum (had she known that I was going to attempt something so crazy), so that forced me to think of so many back up plans, just in case something did go wrong. My plan b was to write down the bus schedule to Ohakune and have cash ready, just in case I needed to call it quits, without getting stuck in the middle of nowhere by myself. I gave her the link to my blog and she suggested more selfies, I’ve never been a fan of selfies (hence I didn’t invest in a selfie stick), so I’ve just included one. I think I look a bit tired in this picture, maybe four hours since my last coffee was too long. The photo was taken at the 53km mark, before things got real…
As the hills became more frequent, I began to use my mantras, the crazy things I tell myself to convince myself to keep going. Basically they have to be short enough to remember, and simple enough to say when I’m gritting my teeth in pain, or almost completely out of breath. Currently I have two
- Pain is temporary
- Stay the course. Kick some arse. Do it again.
- I got bored and revised the second one as a haiku too:
Continue your path,
Defeat your fears and your doubts,
Then rinse and repeat
The hills got worse and the mantras stopped working, around the 80km mark I just snapped. I thought “Jenny, why on earth did you choose such a stupidly hard route? Why the hell am I doing this?” then “I swear, after I get past this hill, I’m ditching my bike and buying cruise tickets so I can sit on a deck chair and drink pina coladas all day”. Of course, I would never do any of those things, I was just so hangry (hungry+angry, coined by Guy, my housemate I lived with in Tonga). So for the next 6km I was just mad. Then I saw the sign for Raetihi and was relieved beyond belief. I was minutes away from getting coffee, food and warm shelter.
It’s somewhat disturbing how suddenly and dramatically mood could change, but I know that this was the hardest I’ve ever physically pushed myself. Despite the temporary despair, I wanted to finish my journey more than I wanted to quit. So that thought dragged me along. After I demolished my food, I rested, put on my windbreaker and finished the remaining 11km to Ohakune. Amusingly, my hostel was on the other side of town, at the top of the hill. I was too tired to snap again, so I just silently went up the hill. The hostel turned out to be great, I had the whole dorm to myself and the lounge had a fireplace. All in all, the day was rough, but I defeated it, so I’m going to sleep well tonight.