Thursday, December 30, 2010

The friendliness of Kiwis.... and our insane adventure on Waiheke.

Ok, so yesterday we did the most insane / epic / stupid / beautiful thing yesterday.

We want to Waiheke to spend the day.  Took the ferry over, and decided instead of taking a wine tour (since they were expensive and we wanted to see more of the island), that we would tour the island ourselves by Mountain Bike.  We had been warned by the guy at te ferry terminal, who when Kyle asked him where to rent bikes, turned with a funny look and said "you know Waiheke is really hilly, right?"  We didn't think much of it, because people had suggested we rent bikes.  Haha, unfortunately it cost us more to rent two mountain bikes than it would have to rent a car (only about $10), but more on that later.

 On the ferry on the way over.  Wow, apparently I am getting tan!  (dont worry, I wear sunblock every day, especially with that whole "hole in the ozone layer" thing...)

 Our trusty bikes...this is right after our first climb.  Getting our bearings.

So we head out with our maps and the vineyards selected that we wanted to stop at eventually, and Kyle was determined to get all the way to the far reaches of the island, where the most beautiful areas were.  This place was called Man 'O War.  Im thinking "awesome, we'll bike out and see it, and then have a leisurely time back.  We had been told that the trail out there was the most difficult, but we didn't think much of it since we're both relatively experienced riders.  We got this, right?  And, we didnt believe the lady when she said "oh, it'll take around 8 hours to get out and back."  Hah, no it won't.  Maybe for amateurs!

On that note, off we go.  Experiencing some serious climbs early on in the heat of the sun, we weren't worried cause we were covered in our SPF70, and had our backpacks stuffed with lunches, as well as waterbottles.  Stopped off at a place called Palm Beach for lunch, which was pretty crowded, but beautiful.  And let me tell you:  That guy at the Ferry Terminal was NOT JOKING when he said Waiheke was hilly.  Reminded me of biking in the Shenandoah MOUNTAINS.  haha.  I mean seriously.

Anyway, we were having a great time, enjoying the gorgeous scenery and happy to be out on such a beautiful day.  We have some amazing photographs.  Bright green grass sprawling out everywhere, and clear Sapphire blue water in between.  Breathtaking to be sure.

 on View Road.  Appropriate name, don't you think?
 Sprawling green pastures as we continued along.  Yea, we left civilization...

 SHEEEEEEP!  (Kyle has the rest of the photos from the trip on his camera)

We continued on, realizing we still had quite a long ways to go.  Im starting to think, this is going to end up as a bit less of a wine / beach tour, and more of a "lets see how extreme we can be" tour.  It sure did.  But thats ok too!  We found our first vineyard as well, Obsideon.  That was quite nice!  We had 5 wines for $5 each, and the woman was really friendly.  It was great to have a breather too. 

We hopped back on, and quickly ended up in the middle of nowhere, sprawling green grassy hills everywhere, tons of sheep (yes, lots of sheep, and the babies were so cute!), and miles left to go to the end of the track.  Just past the sheep, we end up on some dirt / gravel roads.  Well, now this is a tad more challenging!  But let me tell you, mountain bikes are AWESOME, and this is the first time I've been on one as an adult.

Onward, and we're getting pretty tired... and running out of food and water... but we're ALMOST THERE!  2.8 miles to go... and then we finally make it.  Free wine tasting there too!  And omg the most beautiful scenery.  Absolutely gorgeous.  So we stopped and enjoyed the wine at Man 'O War vineyard, and were searching for food, since we thought there was BBQ there.  Nope, no food unfortunately.  So by now its around 4:45pm or so, and we have 4 hours before sunset... well crap, we gotta get back!  

We continue along the track, heading around the end of the loop and back toward town.  OMG we were so shot.  SOOOO shot.  Our legs were just done...we had been biking since 11:30am.  But we had to keep going!  We get up to the top of this ridge which was just absolutely gorgeous, but we stopped to take a break at the top of the hill.  We're realizing we're pretty low on water and randomly, a really really nice older man stopped on the road to talk with us, and sure enough had a huge water jug, and offered us water!!!!  What a nice man!  They were staying just down the road, and were from Auckland.  Haha, oh the friendly nature of Kiwis.  Then we kept on, and we ran into a vineyard that we thought was still open (around 6pm), and headed down there to see if they still had anything.  Sadly, they were closed, but a really nice man walked out, I assume either the owner or someone who works / lives there, and talked with us.  Told us that unfortunately their restaurant was closed and all packed up, so we chatted with him for a bit.  Really nice guy.  He said his brother was a cyclist who had done the same trek, only on a road bike, so he knew what we were into.  Nicest guy ever.. he said "wait a minute, let me see if I have any food I can give you guys to head off with, you will probably need it."  So a couple of minutes later, he walks out with some buiscuts (cookies), strawberries, and two apples!  WOW.  He also gave us some insight on what we had coming... and a doozie it was.

Talk about the two largest and longest hills we had seen all day.. AT THE END OF THE RIDE.  We biked as far as we could, and then hopped off and were walking the bikes up the rest of the way, just for a change in muscle usage.  Insanity.  The first one of the two was absolutely ridiculous.  We're getting a bit worried on time and daylight and all that, but we keep going.  Made it through both thankfully, and then it was not nearly as bad the rest of the way.  We stopped to take a break at a bus stop, and this really nice man who lived right behind the bus stop named Tim, came down cause he saw us.  Asked if we needed help, but we said we were just taking a break, explained where we had come from and whatnot.  He was impressed, and we were joking about how next time.. whatever we rent will come with a MOTOR!  He gave us some more water, and then offered us a couple of beers!  Sat and chatted with us for a while.  Haha, what a friendly guy.  So there, that is THREE times we have been helped by random complete strangers throughout the day.  Wow.  So impressed.  Just nice friendly folk, offering to help out some strangers.  Immensely impressed.

From there, we had 11K to go... and my God was that the longest 11k ever!  Kyle's hip was killing him, our butts were sore, our legs were tired... oh man.  But... by the time 8pm came along...WE MADE IT.  We made it ALL the way back!  a total of 32.5 miles roughly is what we biked throughout the day.  Now... that doesn't sound all that far...but with the hills thrown in like they were, omg it was flippin far.  We literally couldnt have biked any farther.  Haha.  OH what a day!

Here's our route!

Like I said, Insanity is our middle name.  haha.

It was definitely an experience though, thats for sure.  And once we get all the photos loaded, trust me, I will post some.  They are spectacular.  Absolutely nuts.  So finally, around 8 / 8:30pm, the bikes were turned in, we said "good riddance," and headed to wait for the ferry.  All sunburnt (just the back of my hands and a little on my back if you can believe it!  Thank YOU SPF 70!), and absolutely spent.  Ready for food and sleep for sure.

 the last of the sunset, waiting for the Ferry. 
 Rangitoto in the background.  Kyle got some better photos with his camera, but I got something at least!

Oh what a day!  Next time, we're renting motor bikes, and spending a little more time at the wineries and beaches, then pedaling up the mountains.  As Kyle said earlier today "the sight of a hill makes me sick!"   Hahahahahahaha.

Good times.  Next time, we'll try to be a bit smarter about it (don't worry).  :-)

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