NZ warm down – day 16
Little River to Akoroa (via the Summit Road)
53km, 1,250m ascent
Today was always going to be quite a tough ride. I’d seen the profiles (they looked steep) and spent last night camped at the bottom of the hill (it looked steep)! The ride would take me up onto the rim of the old volcano crater and then around the crater rim and down to the town of Akaroa which sits in the old caldera. A couple of people had recommended the ride to me, especially the route around the crater rim, as it has fantastic views of the Banks Peninsula. And it was true, the views were fantastic, but what they failed to tell me was just how hilly the crater rim road is!
It took me about an hour to pedal the 15km and 500m of climb up to Hilltop on the crater rim. It was tough and there was a lot of huffing and puffing, but I did ride all the way! It was a bit like riding through the Lake District or Yorkshire – quite green and English looking.
As promised the views down to Akaroa Harbour were fab.
Instead of heading straight down to the harbour, I turned and followed the road along the crater rim. It was quite an amazing road – running round the ridge line and swapping from side to side to give you views in all directions, both down to the harbour and out to the inlets around the peninsula.
However all of this came at a price! The road had several massive descents and ascents, and some were quite steep. Pushing was required on several occasions! You can see the road snaking all over the place in the pics.
By the time I reached the end and the final descent to Akaroa, I was done for! The cloud had rolled in and it was raining. This made the descent a bit of a hairy experience! As we know I am not the best descender anyway, and in the wet it’s even worse! I think I might have been slower going down than pedalling up!
Akaroa was pleasant enough, although a bit touristy! It’s NZ’s only French town, as back in the 1800’s the French tried to set up a colony there – but we beat them to it! They have beefed up the Frenchness recently to bring the tourists in, even renaming the roads to their French originals. There was a pretty interesting little museum presenting all the history of the peninsula. I had vaguely planned to head a further 10km onto Duvauchelle and stay there for the night. However I checked out the profile and there were three 120m hills to cross to get there, so I camped in Akaroa. My legs were done in and I figured I’d manage the hills better in the morning!
My legs told me it had been a tough day, but then I downloaded the profile and got the stats! It was officially the toughest day of the trip yet! Over 1,200m of climb in just 50km. No wonder I felt done for!