Thats our Christmas dinner from last night. It was ruthlessly efficiently put together by Jo and I, whilst we got showered and changed, so that we were eating within 90 minutes of finishing our monster ride. This was the first plate of three. It was delicious. Roast beef and yorkshire pudding may not be a typical christmas dinner but we did round if off by eating a full ten person christmas pudding between us.
It will be no surprise to comment that spending Christmas day in 27c heat, clear skies and daylight from about 5am till 9pm was a little strange. No matter how I tried I didn’t feel Christmasy. Only when I spoke briefly to my family back home did a I feel like it was Christmas.
With the day to ourselves and no obligations we took the opportunity to try a big challenging ride we’d thought up last time we were here but never got the chance to do. My estimate was 8 – 9 hours ride time so we set off not long after 7am. We’d packed up a fair bit of food (3 bars each!) as we didn’t feel we’d find anywhere open.
At that time on a morning there was so little traffic. It was quite pleasant riding through Christchurch and along the flats to the Banks Peninsula. This can be quite a dull section but we chatted for much of it, got blitzed by thousands of flies for a little and before we knew it we arrived at Little River just over 2 hours in.
Now for the first climb up Hill Top. I got in a good rythm on this lovely graded climb and made good time to the top. The it was on to the Summit Road. This was the reason for the trip and it did not disappoint. This is a view from the early part of the road. The road sticks pretty close to the ridge and weaves either side up and over various little cols. Absolutely stunning views throughout and non stop cruising down hill or grinding up hill.
By now there was more traffic out and about. I guess with such lovely weather at Christmas and it being the major school holidays you get a lot more Kiwis out of the house on Christmas Day than you would back home. I found it slightly reassuring that if we had a major problem we’d likely manage to get some help.
The road went on and on with us thinking it must be the decent soon. Finally when it arrived it was pretty obvious. The road dropped away steeply making for quite a tiring decent as there were more or less no places where you could just let rip and leave go of the brakes. We both agreed that coming back and climbing up this way would be a huge challenge. We’d been told it was the biggest climb in the area and I can well believe it.
We got down to Akaroa after about 4.5 hours ride time. It was quite busy and it was like Christmas (oh it was!) when we found a shop open. Icecream, chocolate, coke and a massive bag of crisps for our Christmas lunch. It tasted good. We agreed we’d made a good decision to do the Port Hills Summit Road on the return as the shop would have been shut if we’d one it on the way out.
The return around the bay was heavily undulating before getting back to the climb up Hill Top. I pushed this again and worked hard before we had the awesome decent back down to Little River. From here we had an hour’s flat riding round to the base of Gebbies and decision time. Jo did a great job heading up the road and TTing along. This kept me motivated and this, dullest, section of the ride was soon over.
Decision time with us both very tired. Jo said she knew she’d be disappointed if we didn’t do the summit road so off we headed up Gebbies and then Coopers Knob. This was probably the steepest climb of the day and definitely felt so at this point in the ride. Again I pushed up it and waited for Jo at the spring. Someone had left a plate of Christmas Goodies there but we didn’t feel like risking trying anything. The ice cold water was good enough.
Now more or less downhill and home. I was utterly drained. I slept 10 hours last night and couldn’t muster the energy to get up and attend the special swim session for the faster swimmers that Rolly had included me in on !
Back home we prepared the great dinner you see above and enjoyed a few beers whilst preparing it.