Given that Eskdale didn’t give us the momentum kick to riding that we had hoped for, it was time to mix it up after two days on the MTB and hit the road again to scope out more of the H Bay goodness and importantly, tick Te Mata Peak off the list of rides to do.

Based in the DN Black site of Panther HQ high above Napier, we went to work tapping into his local knowledge to map out a route to maximise on the Bay roads on the way to the Peak. As per usual, the bay turned on another stunner to get out and indulge in.

What wasn’t stunning though was my stomachs reaction to the Anti-biotics… My former cycling room mates will all testify to the fact that it doesn’t take much to set my stomach off, and this was no exception. I therefore spent my morning waging a gruesome and heinous assault on the Panther’s bathroom, wondering at one point if A) If I was going to be able to go out at all and; B) If I would ever be invited back! Nasty.

It didn’t take long from setting off to get into some classic and golden H Bay scenery:

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River anyone?

It did strike me as I rode through empty backcountry roads that the possibilities for road riding are endless here… The number of loops or circuits you could devise are so plentiful the hardest thing about planning your weekend ride would be where to go, its got ‘training camp’ written all over it. Added bonus of the place being rammed with wineries as well, so you can undo all the training benefit afterwards by smashing vino and great food.

The point of today’s ride was really to climb Te Mata Peak. I took a photo of it the other day and whilst I had walked up it (WTF with the walking), I had always wanted to ride it. As far as climbs go, its numbers aren’t all that staggering really, especially when you consider some of the stuff that I choked on in 2013:

  • 5.3km’s
  • Avg gradient of 7%
  • 356m elevation gain

The Strava KOM record up here was an eye ball melting and ‘should someone flag that’ 14.44, which is an insane time. I had something more tangible to aim at with Ango’s time from a year ago set at 19.29. If I could go sub 20 mins then that would sufficient. Of course, its always a solid approach when you’re still sick and have stomach issues to head out and smash yourself on a climb trying to beat a specific time.

Its an interesting climb… Starts out in the MILF filled suburbs of Havelock North and gradually climbs out of town into farmland and the flowing hills that are dotted with more status anxiety inducing houses made of steel, wood and glass – A combo I am particularly vulnerable to and I don’t even like houses FFS. I did my best to block out the premier real estate and keep focused on maintaining a sweet rhythm using 60% of my lung capacity.

The thing I liked about TMP was the variety, it twists and turns and there are a lot of gradient changes, which make it interesting as opposed to a straight drag. Eventually you pop out into stiffy inducing scenery, which makes all the suffering on the way up more than worth while. I’m a total fiend for rolling dry hills, so this was like VIP access to the Spearmint Rhino in scenery terms:

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Back to the top

The last 2km’s seem to go on for ever as there are 2 or 3 false summits. I stopped the clock at 19.41, which is good for Ango as he now doesn’t need to explain how I beat his time given I am 3kg’s over race weight, sick and unfit. Lucky break BROOOOOOOO. Happy that I was under 20 mins, I then proceeded to unleash an epic coughing fit that went on long enough that people not only started to move away from me (screaming “God, fuck, its SO contagious” always illicits an awesome response), but they also started to comment on what was I doing up here with a cough like that – The cheek of the man. Move aside tourists, I had scenery photos to take:

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The TMP spine with Craggy Range winery to the right

Of course, a picture is not a picture without a bike in it:

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The greatest road bike in the history of road bikes

Looking across at the Tukituki Valley, I knew I couldn’t resist heading around there again to add a bit of distance to the ride and knock off a century:

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I’m coming for you TTV

Before rolling out though, I had to get one final shot looking the other way off TMP… This is THE shot of the day from my perspective, loving this landscape:

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I shall build my steel/wood/glass house right here thanks

The TMP effort blew my legs out a bit, as did the grind up the TT Valley into a strengthening headwind, so I deviated from the Panther designed scenic route to head back to Napier, knocking off the 102km loop with the climb up to Panther HQ via the 18% climb he has on his doorstep, so handy when you’re a bit fucked.

So… A Massive Dirty Thank You to the Panther and his team for hosting me on their lounge floor for a few days, the Bay is an awesome place to hang and ride, its definitely on the Dirty Love List for sure. Good Luck to Power Pete as well, who will get to enjoy the Bay goodness with the HUB tour that kicks off there tonight!

I’ve now rolled south in the Dirty Ron Burgundy Prado and into familiar old school territory… More to come.

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