Over the course of the next few days, I was to discover the meaning of this phrase, on a variety of levels.
Well now it’s getting serious!
From the Sundowner Motel in Greymouth we were picked up and driven the thirty minutes to the Hokitika Cycle Journey depot where we were given the lowdown on the track, did a check of the cycle-fit (NB in no way related to cycle fitness!), loaded the bikes, all carefully personalized with our names and finally the cyclists ready for the next section, a twenty minute drive to Ross to begin our tour.
An assorted cache of sexagenarians and septuagenarians, a dozen in all, sprang from the vehicle, sorted their bicycles, posed for the obligatory framed photo of the Westcoast Wilderness ride and headed for…. coffee of course!!!!
I thought it was a perfect start however not all in the company were as amused. Our sojourn was short and in no time we were off.
Our destination was Scenic Waterways a leisurely ride of just 33km. The weather was truly amazing – blue skies, cool and a light breeze at our back – magic!
Not long into the ride we were on the road up hill and down dale. It was getting hard. Now normally I scream downhill. It’s just physics. I’m lugging a significant load of lard. I stopped convinced the breaks were locking. The experts checked the bike. No that wasn’t the issue – breaks, front and back, perfect – could be the engine- old, worn and obviously a tad delusional – and so began my walking portions of the cycle trail. Deep in my consciousness was a tiny Gollum-like voice – I told you, I told you, my precious…an ebike, an ebike!!….. Oh buggar!!!
First stop Treetops Walk, not counting water stops and photo opportunities. Our timing was perfect and we did the walk and lunched later.
Now this Wilderness ride is rated ‘easy’. I suspect as rated by Chris Froome, Eddy Mercks or mabe Lance. I dare say that with a handful of uppers I might agreement . I was bereft.
It was a really beautiful ride I noticed whenever we slowed, stopped or on the rare occasion the track smoothed a little and I could look around safely. At one stage I gratiously volunteered to guard the bikes while the intrepid crew ventured deep into the forest to view a lake or dam- I can’t remember, I was just grateful for the rest and then along came Jim. At 86+ on his e-bike, he was a wealth of knowledge and more than happy to have a chat. Delightful man!
The ride continued to snake through the incredible Westland temperate rainforest thick with moss covered trees and every imaginable fern including fern trees ranging from tiny to gigantic.
Cindy and Gavin were at Scenic Waterways to welcome us into their home, an eclectic ensemble of abodes with the heart and soul centred in the main house in the marvelous kitchen, dining, sitting area that combined practical living with a rustic but sophisticated ambiance. It was wonderful.
Afternoon eased into evening lubricated by sensible indulgence in aperitifs and suddenly it was time for dinner. We were treated to a feast the likes of which Maggie Beer would be proud. Sated, we settled in to play cards, well four of us did. I learned a new game, ‘Oh Buggar!’ and it was a case of beginners luck and I cleaned up.