A great day, that started a little differently with a rather demented lapwing wandering the campsite pre dawn squawking at the top of its lungs outside each tent. Had been cold enough overnight to zip the sleeping bag up and beautiful clear start to the day and NO WIND. Was not overly surprised when the advertised toast for breakfast ended up looking suspiciously like the plain old raw bread we have had on every other ride day. Away a bit after 8 and after the obligatory hill climb out of town got some nice rolling going. Now we had finally decided to do the rail trail despite the lack of encouragement from last nights briefing and finding the start was no problem with a great big sign pointing the way. After less than a km of quite large new gunmetal road cover the trail started its long ascent on a surface that varied quite a bit and while a bit rough in parts was generally good going. And any concerns about the trail surface were more than compensated by most enjoyable coll forest riding with a number of impressive cuttings. Followed it for about 14 km and as with the start the finding of the cutout point proved to be bleeding obvious as the trail met the road right at the top of the main climb. So as well as getting a far more enjoyable climb we still got to savour the terrific downhill on the bitumen. Doesn’t get much better.
Turned off the highway for a loop through Legerwood where the locals had put on a spread that Carey would have been most impressed with – rows of little plates of sandwiches with slices / cakes etc. Fantastic loop ride back to the main road – a rare departure from the main roads we’ll use for most of the week. A short but brutal climb out of Branxholm led to a most enjoyable run through to lunch at Derby on the Ringarooma River. The climb out of Derby was also pretty tough though not quite as bad as I remembered from previous trips and then it was on to the final climb to Weldborough – very pretty forest and great riding but the 2000 m of climbing over 2 days was really catching up with me and I was taking lots of little rest stops. Finally in to camp where the cow turds while numerous were at least a lot drier than those at a campsite somewhere near Rotorua that I visited about this time last year. Headed over the road to the pub – the only attraction in town other than the phone box (in a town with no mobile coverage that rates as an attraction!) Hoping they may have a sausage sizzle but ended up having a couple of ciders instead. Very tasty salmon for dinner – the fabled wagyu beef is back on the menu for tomorrow night – then fled to the tents to escape the cold.