Day 9 Sun 26/2 Whakmuaru – Taupo 46 km 700m vertical

What a great finish to the trip. Quite chilly overnight – found myself checking how the sleeping bag feels when fully zipped up for the first time in quite a while. Mist hanging over the lake pre-dawn but before first light the fog rolled in. Yet another reason to make a strategic decision to start late and the fog was just starting to lift as I rolled out.  Climbing right from the get go today bu even hills that looked pretty steep on the profile didn’t end up too bad. Cool sunny morning, no wind and quiet roads – you could get used to this.  An early sight of Mt Ruapehu over lovely rolling hills.  Just sensational touring.

Finally peaked out at about 650 m and from there it was mainly a series of swooping downhills until the Tongariro mountains and Lake Taupo came into view – apart fro a few little uphills one of which had a banked shoulder that would have looked more in place on a velodrome – quite weird.  They took us a couple of hundred metres back uphill so we could stop at a lookout, then a final swoop into town, turn under the finish banner and all of a sudden it’s all over.

Rode down to the motel I’d booked and found I couldn’t book in till 2 but was able to leave bags and panniers, then it was back for the bike wash before shipping the beast home.  A local school group was washing bikes for $5 a go and that seemed pretty good value to me.  Then it was another TARDIS job of pulling the bike apart sufficiently so it can fit in a box that really isn’t big enough. After grabbing some lunch and now being bike free I wandered back to the motel and left the camping lifestyle behind again.  Once again I’m struck by the strange feeling of how a ride just dissipates at its end – not with a bang but a whimper.

After drying tent and washing self wandered back into town for some more yummy kumara chips and snapper and after stocking up on essentials – cider, wine and bread for toast – staggered back to my little home for the next couple of nights

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