Day Ten and Eleven of the Old Legs Tour of New Zealand – The Timber Trail.

Day 10 stats
Distance – 88 km
Time – 9 hrs 43 min
Climb – 1872 meters.
Average heart rate -122 bpm
Highest heart rate- 170 bpm
Day 11 stats.
Distance – 95 km
Time – 8 hrs 40 min
Climb – 1378 meters
Average heart rate -108 bpm
Highest heart rate- 143 bpm\
I am suspicious of Howard Thompson. I think he is trying to murder me by bicycle. Either that or he is delivering up epic as requested.
We climbed 3244 m in the last 2 days on the Timber Trail. With 86 kilometers of single track through massive and ancient rainforest, they were easily my prettiest days on a bike, and also my toughest. I was dreading the Timber Trail but it was my best ever. Impossibly, these Old Legs Tours continue to deliver better and better.
The rainforest is all Jurassic tree ferns, and towering trees heavily cloaked in moss and lichen against the constant back drop of rushing water and birds sounds above. The single track is well maintained but not manicured, and threads you through and beneath the forest, and out onto forever views. With brutal climbs and plenty of white-knuckle descents, it is scary shit on a bike, especially for me. As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, single track is not my top game. The speed freaks among us, especially Howard and Rob, loved thrashing the descents. If I was their mother, I would have grey hair by now. NB not to tell on them to their moms, but Macca and Jonno also thrashed it down the hills.
And then there were the 8 suspension bridges, all straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. The longest one is 130 meters long and 53 meters high a.k.a. 17 stories, with a raging torrent below, complete with the sharp rocks, etcetera, etcetera to fall upon. My sphincter did the suns and worked out it would take me 4 long seconds to fall to my death. and flat out refused to let me ride the bridge on my bike, like the others.
My sphincter knows I can wobble, crash and burn on my bike on perfectly flat terra firma and insisted I walked the bridge instead. And so I walked my bike. I so wish I could say I strode the bridge, but there were witnesses filming, so I can’t, because what goes on Tour, also goes on social media.
If I look awkward in the unfortunate footage of me being brave on the bridge, like I’m trying to grip the wooden slats of the bridge with my toes through my shoes, it is because I was. And then when Jonno and Howard started swinging the bridge and I screamed like two girls.
I now also officially hate suspension bridges, and there were 8 of them. NB My sphincter has formally requested a review of its conditions of service. It says it did not sign up for 11 hour days in the saddle and suspension bridges and would rather I switched sporting codes to badminton.
When eventually we finished the Timber Trail, we still had another 42 kilometers with 600 meters of climb to our night stop in 35 kilometers into our night stop at Ōwhango, which in Māori means I’m Sorry. I’m thinking a suspension bridge is somehow involved in how the town was named.
After the Timber Trail, the ride home should have been an anticlimactic slog, but it wasn’t. It was glorious, through the beautiful King Country, with valleys and rolling hills, all mostly up. Sir Colin Pinetree Meads, one of New Zealand’s greatest All Blacks was born, lived and farmed in the King Country. I so hope I see or meet an All Black while I am here.
I saw good birds today, including an inquisitive fan tail that followed me for a bit in the rainforest, no doubting hoping I would crash and disturb some insects for him. I also heard a tūī bird, but didn’t see him. Tūī birds are New Zealand honeysuckers but with a singing voice that make our Heuglins Robin sound dowdy by comparison. My best though was a sky full of Canadian geese above the Waikato, honking loudly, flying in V shaped formations headed south, and east, and also west and north. I think they were also most probably knackered. I also saw Rosella parrots, Swamp harriers soaring and a magnificent pair of black swans with white wings, and also an ostrich, also black with white wings.
Tomorrow we ride 85 kilometers with 1400 meters of climb to our next overnight stop at the Bridge to Nowhere. I am more worried about the bridge than the climb. By now, we’re all hitting peak fitness and our legs are strong. We’re also forming strong bonds of comradeship that will last for years. U was in dire trouble yesterday. I needed an urgent wee but couldn’t undo the knot on my riding shorts. In full panic mode, I asked Rob if he could help me and he said sure, no problem.
We only met 10 days ago and there is no way he would have offered to help untie my shorts for me then. As it turns, Rob wasn’t able to undo my knot either, and had to resort to using a penknife, ruining a perfectly good pair of riding shorts. But I won’t hold that against him, because we’re comrades, unless I need ammunition for Dick of the Day.
We are riding New Zealand from top to bottom to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. The generation that built our beautiful Zimbabwe have been beggared by 39 years of economic stupidity, leaving them dependent on the charity they are too proud to ask for.
Please follow our adventures on Facebook. Please also follow the donate prompts below – GoFundMe, 2024 Old Legs Tour New Zealand & Angola, Help plse
Until my next blog from the Bridge to Nowhere, have fun, do good and do epic if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

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