181102-It All Rolls Downhill

I woke with a plan. I would ride to Masterton, 85 km away. From there I would decide if weather, time, and my physical state supported riding to Featherston, an additional 50 km. If so, I’d find a bed there. That would put me close to the trailhead for the Rimutaka Rails to Trails line, my target destination since Auckland. I likely wouldn’t have Internet access until Masterton, so further planning waited on arrival.

I met Tara as I ate breakfast. She teaches nearby at a school that provides free education for students with special needs. She spent three years teaching near Fayetteville, NC. When she’d heard from our host I was from NC she made sure to look me up.

With a long day ahead, I left by 8:00 am. What a glorious day of cycling. All of the climbing the last few days finally paid off, and much of the day followed rivers and valleys down. Headwinds pushed back, but minor compared to the last few days. Cloudy or sunny, cool but not cold. The ride to Masterton almost exclusively small roads with little traffic.

Twice today magpies attacked me. One harassed me for over a kilometer! I’d see the shadow as they swooped in from behind. I’m fortunate the roads had little traffic when I frantically swerved to avoid them. I have less sympathy for magpies as roadkill – they attacked something that didn’t give way.

At the end of most driveways of remote country homes stands a shed constructed of metal sheeting and 4x4s. I eventually deduced their purpose as shelter for kids waiting for the bus (and the occasional cyclist!) But some parents go that extra mile.

I arrived in Masterton by 1:30 pm. I stopped at a McDonald’s for calories and Wi-Fi. From there I found a hotel (no hostels available) in Featherston. I wanted somewhere solid given the forecast for tomorrow is rain and winds gusting up to 120 kph! Wellington rests on one side of the strait between North Island and South Island, making winds nearby particularly fierce. I’m clearly close to Wellington now!

When I left Napier the advice had been to carry three days of food, with no real markets along my route. I finally replenished supplies at the Masterton Pak ‘N Save. While there I also found cards for the card game we’d played a few times after class. I’ve been looking for it ever since.

From Masterton I raced to Featherston down State Highway 2. As expected, a wide shoulder, although the traffic was jarring after three days of remote country roads. Leaving town I had another flat tire. That’s the fifth for those counting. Narrow tires and all the weight on the back has multiple drawbacks.

I found the hotel in Featherston at the edge of town away from the highway. It’s not much, but it’s clean with a roof and Wi-Fi. While I maneuvered the bicycle into my room, I met my neighbor, a cyclist who arrived today on the Rimutaka Trail from the other direction. He gave me his map. He said the first section I’ll encounter is a bit rough – concerning given how this bicycle handles that. I’m running out of patches!

Afterwards, I wandered about Featherston (it didn’t take long). For such a small town, there’s train and war museums, at least four used-book stores, and several second-hand shops. Something to do tomorrow.

The wind already roars outside.

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