Pelorus Bridge to Nelson
Leaving Pelorus Bridge I had a choice. The more direct route is a rugged 4 wheel drive road which is not recommended for loaded touring bikes. Instead I took the longer route on highway 6 through the Rai Valley and then over the Whangamoa Mountains. At first there wasn't much traffic, but it picked up on the climbs. I had lined up a Warm Showers host in Nelson who said he was going to ride out and meet me. But first I had to get over one pass and start climbing another.
The first pass was Rai Saddle, which seemed like it must have been the big climb of the day, but Whangamoa Saddle is higher at 466 meters. As usual the downhill was over too soon and the road began climbing once again at an and easy but steady grade. I had already gained back a lot of the elevation when Andrew arrived from the other side. "Perfect timing" he said "we can get off the road here". Sure enough he led me over some rocks and through some trees to the "old road" which paralleled the highway but was not accessible to cars. It was great to get off the highway but soon we came to a place where they had bulldozed a big mound over the old road. This required some serious grunt work to get over. Since we still had more uphill to go Andrew offered to carry my rear panniers as he was on an unladen touring bike.
The old road ended too soon and we were back on the highway for the final push to the top. We stopped for a snack at the top where I made another costly mistake. My food was in a front pannier underneath my rain gear, which was wrapped in a neat bundle inside my helmet cover. I took out the rain gear bundle and set it on the front rack. After the snack I closed up the front pannier but left the rain gear unsecured on the rack, and then proceeded to speed off down the hill. Andrew is very fast on the downhill and was soon out of sight. I soon heard a car beeping at me so I pulled over. "Looks like you dropped something a couple of kilometers back up the road." @!%@#! First my helmet and now my rain gear. I could go back, but it was a long climb, and Andrew would think something happened to me. So I said goodby to my rain gear and kept going, feeling really stupid and depressed.
Andrew was waiting for me at the bottom of the hill and we continued on together. It was a long way to his place as he lives on the other side of Nelson. I was ready for a break but we kept going. We did stop at an interesting bike shop that sold a lot of Velo Orange and other vintage style stuff. I was amazed to see so much VO stuff in one tiny shop on the other side of the world. Very cool. We also stopped at the beer store. Craft beer on tap. You fill your own bottles. Never saw that before.
Andrew has a small house distinguished by 2 things. He has a garden on all 4 sides growing a wide range of vegetables and some fruits. He also has a small garage jammed full of vintage bikes he has or is restoring. Very interesting person. Thanks Andrew.