Day 7 – One week eh!? Tokaanu Hot Springs through National Park to Ohakune

today 90 km total 478 km
Today was a day of riding through mountains!  The second pair of shorts helped I think, but man, this sore is really persistent!  I’m not really sure what else I can do.  I suppose that the best thing to do is stay off the bike long enough for the skin to heal.  I did notice, today, that it is worse when climbing, so on flatter days, maybe it will recover.
Did I mention climbing?  It was a pretty long climb to National Park – 50 km.  Off the couch in the morning, the road had a 1km flat approach and then BANG! Probably 10% grade!  I invoked Chandra’s rule of climbing which was to find a pace I could maintain all day even if the climb never ends.  That was good advice today since the climbing went on much longer than I thought it would. I was expecting a flatter traverse after the initial climb, but it was pretty much uphill all day with a few short descents.  I also invoked Brian’s rule of touring which was to not pass an open café!  unfortunately, the first café had no pastries even though I was hungry, but the coffee was warming and energizing,  I took a legit, fullon break in National Park at the train station though, and the carrot cake and coffee gave me the energy for a rainy (well, sprinkley – not enough for shell) mostly downhill cruise to Ohakune.
The views were stunning – especially of Mt. Tongariro, but unfortunately Mt. Ruapehu, which looks like a Cascades volcano all festooned in snow, was shrouded by a low ceiling of clouds all day.  It was impressive to see nonetheless, but won’t make for stunning photographs.  I guess, in some way, that makes today my own!
I checked my wheels this morning as well and noticed two broken spokes on the rear wheel!  Could be from the load, or from catching air at RotoVegas, but in any case, I changed them with two of my five spares.  Unfortunately, my spares are a touch long so I could not tighten them as much as I would like, but they held today anyway.  More spares will be needed before Queen Charlotte Track and the Rainbow Road next month!
In that last 40 km I came upon a guy walking dragging an oxcart with a wooden barrel on it.  He was flying a flag with some conspiracy theory ranting about 911 being an inside job.  I couldn’t resist chatting him up a bit though.  I mention this in part because it was quite a shock to meet him (he’s walking from North Cape to Wellington) but also, I’ve had so many conversations about the US election.  Part of it is the world media I suppose, and part of it is interest, but so many people I see want to talk about Obama and the election, the financial crisis, Iraq, all that.  So this guy figures Obama is beholden to the same interests as Bush and will be a disappointment.  I suppose we all have high hopes for the coming administration and we will all be disappointed in some way or another.  Nonetheless, I still hold optimisim and even this guy said he hopes to be proven wrong.  Interestingly, he was in the US working for Kerry (or against GW as he put it) in 2004.  Between politics and American history, many people in New Zealand know more about the US than the majority of American adults methinks!
In any case, tomorrow will be a bit shorter, but also a deserted gravel road.  I’m going to try it with my slicks on but will be prepared to switch to knobbies if I must.  Either way, I’m looking forward to a peaceful day of riding ending up in a little town that sets me up well for catching the train in Marton Friday.  Good times and good night!

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