Friday, October 30, 2009

Rotorua, here we are!

After an cruisy 80-odd km ride from Taupo, the Rakiura riders have arrived at their final destination, Rotorua!
Well, it wasn't so cruisy leaving Taupo during morning rush hour. Our attempt at riding in a peloton for our final day didn't quite go as planned. But we managed to stay fairly close together compared out how spread out we'd been (as much as 30 kms between the lead bikes to the tail-end Charlies on the long days).
Once we passed the bottleneck outside the high school and got out onto the open road, ride conditions were positively delightful: gentle rolling hills (mostly downward sloping), pastoral land on either side, quiet roads with little traffic, a tailwind, and blue skies with the occasional cotton ball cloud. There was the whole matter of road construction about 20 kms out of Taupo which managed to temporarily capsize one rider. But even muddy unpaved roads couldn't slow our progress.
The plan had been to meet several local dignitaries near Waiotapu at 1:45 so they could usher us into town. But we had so much forward momentum all morning that we arrived at our appointed meeting spot 25 kms outside Rotorua 3 hours early! Delaying tactics like an extra pit-stop, an extra-long pie-stop just 10 kms later, and a tour of the Waiotapu mud pools did not stop us from itching to get going again by 12:30.
The locals, several Rotorua city councillors, were gracious and flexible however, and we met them 14 kms out from the hostel for a leisurely downhill jaunt in through town. Rounds of applause from at least one passing trucker, as well as cheers from a number of members assembled at the hostel for the Annual General Meeting this weekend, made us feel even more welcome.
Speaking of the AGM, Alex compiled some photos and video from the last six days for a presentation tonight to the members. We thought you'd enjoy seeing it, too. (Besides, hopefully it makes up for the few photos posted over the last couple of days.) Be sure to have your speakers on as you watch. Enjoy!

Many thanks to each one of your for your support. Riding for Rakiura has raised more than $50,000 for YHA NZ's Stewart Island Project. Whether your role was making a donation to a rider's Givealittle page, providing in-kind sponsorship, or even just sending good wishes and moral support, we couldn't have done this without you. So thanks!
One more thought before the Rakiura Riders sign off. While Rotorua marks our final destination for this ride, it's just the beginning of the Stewart Island Project. The six days of riding and countless hours spent preparing for them mark but a one leg of the several-year-long Stewart Island Project. But I think I speak for all when I say it's been an action-packed journey of blood, sweat, and laughs. Here's to more of the same as fundraising continues and construction begins on the new eco-hostel and learning centre.
On to the next leg of the Stewart Island Project journey!

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