My legs felt as good as new today, the massage yesterday certainly paid off. Rain was forecast for Taupo and just cloudiness for Rotorua, so I was eager to get past the wet part as quickly as possible.
Along the way I saw dozens of signs for thermal parks and caves (it got annoying when I started craving coffee and kept seeing caves instead of cafes). My first stop was at Mihi, 40km from Taupo, and I knew immediately that this cafe would be great. There’s something about flowers in a wheelbarrow which always makes me smile. I demolished a homemade steak and cheese pie along with an amazing mocha. On the way out, the owner gave me a handful of Milky Ways (my favourite chocolate when I was little) and said “this is for the other side of the hill”. I thanked him and tried to ignore that bit about the hill, put my raincoat back on and ventured on.
As I mounted my bike, I saw three little kids waiting for a bus, which was odd because it was noon and the local school was 500m away. A library bus showed up and they all boarded, but it didn’t go anywhere. Then I realised the bus was the library. Of course, a bus can be more than one thing, like Catbus from Totoro. It has been running for more than 30 years and they change the collections every month. I thought it was really neat.
About 10km after that the sulfur smell started, all that rotten egg goodness. I took a detour to Waiotopu which is the most colourful thermal park. It was a nice chance to stretch my legs and see some cool things. Due to the wet weather and overcast, my photos aren’t as good as the brochure, but here were my four favourite ones.
I walked quite briskly through the track, as it was quite smelly, although it was good practice for my two nights in Rotorua. I had just under 30km to go so I thought I’d get a wriggle on. As I was working my way up the hill, the road shoulder fell apart a bit, so I called for Milky Way time. It wasn’t as bad as the elevation map makes it seem. Unless my legs have just gotten used to the morale crushing inclines.
Once I arrived in Rotorua, 30 minutes ahead of schedule, I felt pumped. I reached my hostel, soaking wet, checked in, threw both panniers on my shoulders and barrelled up the stairs to my room. The next priority was to upload my Strava results and I was pleasantly surprised. After seven rides I was in the zone. A selfie was due, I probably looked as arrogant as I felt, in my head I was thinking “oh yeah, I’m the boss, I totally owned that hill”.
That night I went to dinner and totally owned that too. A well deserved meal I think…