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Day 15, Pelorus Bridge via Maungatapu Saddle to Nelson

62km 1515m elevation

What a day! A lot of people who’d experienced the TA before had commented on Maungatapu Saddle, the sort of place to make grown men cry.

I packed up my slightly damp gear, (good call under the trees tho) waved goodbye to Daniel  and headed off to face the music. The Maungatapu  road started well enough but once the track began I could see the gloves were off. It was steep, rough and curly. I managed to ride the first 50m then started walking.  I was trying to calculate how long it would take me to walk 5km uphill pushing my loaded bike and was thinking three hours might be about right. Then slightly less for the descent. I knew I had enough food and water so the only other variable was my will power. I set my teeth and kept pushing. 

 When I got to the next corner I was pleasantly surprised to see it levelled off a bit. I glanced behind and saw Daniel walking which made me feel a bit better, both to have some company and that it was tricky for other riders too.  I yelled back that it got better and started peddling. He caught me soon after and we shared the rest of the experience and it’s one I’ll remember for a while. I made it peddling to Murderer's Rock Ford at 16km from Pelorus Bridge  before needing to walk the rest of the climb to the summit at 19.4km. It got steeper, rockier and windier as I went up. The urge to stop was pretty strong but knowing that if I stayed within cooee of Daniel I’d have a buddy for the descent kept me going. He had broken his collar bone recently, so with my fractured ribs we were a risk -averse pair! 

The summit was wet and wild so we didn’t linger to savour the moment, just donned extra layers and flexed our braking fingers. The ride down I followed Daniel again, when he walked so did I, it was great. Perhaps it was my expectations that it would be almost impossible, and isolated,  made the whole experience a really positive thing.

We finally got back to the road and to my amusement there was a sign saying ‘steep and narrow’. This was wide and gentle gradient compared to what we had just been on, it felt like a highway!  I stuck to the back of Daniel’s wheel on the road back to Nelson, since with his aero bars  he was flying.

I took the bike into Alton Street cycles, Dylan was great to deal with and sorted the bike the same afternoon.   All she needed was new rear brake pads and bottom bracket – no surprises there after the amount of braking and peddling I’ve been doing. 

While the bike was getting serviced I went to the River Street kitchen to wait for Scott and Nerena since the tracker showed they were really close. It was great to see them again and the poor things endured my overly enthusiastic hugs. It was wonderful to share stories and know we’d be cycling together again. They headed off to their accommodation and I went to find mine.

I met my old boss Sandra at her work at MRI in Pacific Radiology Nelson and she and Garth welcomed me into their lovely home and couldn’t have been nicer. After meeting their adorable fur family, a delicious home-cooked meal and a shower with a full size towel, I was ready for bed and looking forward to my well earned day off on Wednesday . 

Maungatapu - a sacred mountain, with special memories.