The ride to Hick's Bay was a tough one! It was only 83 km but it seemed to take forever. We started out feeling good and well rested under sunny skies and light breeze. Mary and I started out together but she soon zipped past and I was on my own and remained that way for the rest of the day, with Mary and Jennie way ahead and the others - Eric, Terri, Carol and Bob behind. I tootled along enjoying the scenery until the first real hill - straight up- and the next one and the next one. As the morning wore on the sun got hotter, the wind got stronger, and the hills seemed to get longer. Road construction! New seal coating, fresh tar, loose rocks, lots of trucks, steep hill. Ugh.
I stopped in Ruatoria, our agreed upon lunch stop but no one was there except Martel waiting with the van he said that Mary and Jennie had gone ahead to eat lunch in Tikitiki because it was still too early. So I parked under a tree, ate 1/2 a sandwich and an orange and waited for awhile for the others to show up. They never did, so I pedaled on towards Tikitiki. Still feeling strong. an hour later I was in Tikitiki and saw no sign of Mary or Jennie. Stopped at the only store along the road, got an ice cream bar, rested on the shade for a bit hoping to see someone from the group. Then I thought that maybe they already left and maybe the rest of the group whom I thought were behind me had passed through while I was in the washroom and exploring the little store. No sign of Martel or the van either. I decided to move on. The road sign said Hick's Bay 35 km. Great, not much further to go maybe I've seen the worst. Wrong! Across the road from the sign was a little church I thought about stopping and checking it out but decided to forge ahead. I should have stopped, because apparently that is where the rest of the group was. Unbeknown to me someone had suggested that we all meet at this church for lunch! So I road past everyone thinking I was way behind and needed to catchup to them.
The afternoon deteriorated from then on. It was now getting very warm and the winds felt like gale force either coming right at me in a headwind or blowing me off the road in a crosswind. I was getting tired and hot. I felt I like I was pressing hard and getting nowhere. No sign of life, the highway was desolate, not even a farmhouse, very little shade. I hadn't seen anybody the group all day, I thought I was way behind. I hadn't even seen Martel and the van since Ruotoria. I checked my Garmin and I had gone 66 km in four hours of riding time, how slow is that!? And I had another 20 to go and the hills
were not going away. I was wishing I had my road bike, I was wishing I had wings, I was wishing I was 20 pounds lighter and mostly I was wishing I was already there. Where was everybody? Then at 68 km Martel drove by in the van - what a beautiful sight. Terri was with him. He asked if I was okay and I replied "no! I'm over heated and tired! Make room for me and my bike, I'm done!" and the was the end of my riding for the day. He drove us to the Motel in Hick's Bay and went back to check on the others, apparently I was not way behind as I had thought but way ahead of everyone else because I missed the church!
I don't regret making the decision to stop when I did. After all this is a vacation and not an endurance test. I enjoyed a swim in the motel pool, a warm shower and a glass of wine on the deck with Terri as we waited for the others to arrive.
After a wonderful dinner prepared by Bob and Eric we were all asleep before 9 pm.