Day 1: Cape Reinga to Utea Park
The shuttle service from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga is run by a man named Olly. Now, I should probably double check for a typo but I read his name in the guidebook as "Oily." I might have found this odd except I'm from Utah, a place where Oily might actually be a name...except it would be spelled Oyleigh or Aoiley (the "a" is silent, obvi). So after referring to him as Oily a few times, I heard our Australian biker friends call him Olly. And that just made more sense. Now, no matter how I phrased my question on the phone, it was really hard to get a straight answer from Oily as to whether or not we're scheduled for a pick up. This was very concerning to me. BUT, despite my worries, all of the people and the bikes made it on the truck.
At Cape Reinga, we took our "beginning" photo at the famous sign by the lighthouse...and thought we were ready to start. It wasn't until we resolved two basically flat tires, a wheel issue, and then repacked our bikes twice (where the kelp is my neon vest!!!) before really getting under way.
The first 15 km was on asphalt road, 5km on a gravel road, then we had to hike our bikes through an estuary at high tide to get to 90 Mile Beach (it's not actually 90 miles...but I get why they named it that).
And then we just rode and rode and rode that beach. Yes, we rode on the sand but the sand is packed hard enough that cars can drive on it so it's not as awful as it sounds.
We started getting low on water (and motivation) around 7pm. Our late start didn't leave us with enough gumption to ride all the way to Ahipara so we stopped at the blessedly located Utea holiday park at 73km. It was nice and we got a cheap cabin....my bike may have gotten side swiped by an unexpected wave that left some of my sleeping gears more moist than I prefer and I was glad to not be setting up a tent in the dark.
Physical status: My tailbone (for those of you aware of the tailbone debacle of 2017) feels ok but was a little sore still so I am glad for the lower mileage today. My cookie wishes I would have used chamois cream this morning (chalk one up for laziness). And...there is an overall feeling of general muscular soreness. But showered and laying on a mattress...airing out... feels fantastic
Emotional Status: So much relief there were no issues with the shuttle, so excited that we are actually doing this, some fears about not being able to tackle what's coming. Afraid my tailbone will get worse. So glad that we were able to get up here a day early so relieve some time pressure. Awe at the beauty of the beach. Awe at how the beach can go on FOREVER. Gratitude I am here.