So we could tell you about Raglan. And the surf. And the cooking fresh fish on the fire for Christmas lunch. Or the Maori party that went on for three days non stop next door. Or the tipi that we were sold as being glamping, but instead smelt of damp and was full of spiders...
The Christmas Meal
But there was truly a lot of wind in Raglan. And a lot of surf. And not so much cycling. Sean and Oak did manage to get to the mountain bike park before we left for a decent spin. But even the mountain bike park lent itself more to admiring the surfing, as from the top of the ridge you got a fantastic view of the famous Raglan left hand break coming in.
The next proper adventure for the Lallys then was the Timber Trail.
Which turned out to be a hell of a wake up call. Our first proper initiation into the NZ wilderness. Or a day of cycling hell. Or the best and most fantastic home education experience ever. For the first thing our nine year old son learned from the Timber Trail is that TV is not real. In fact, most TV is a lie.
“It looked so easy on Youtube!!!” cried Oak as we wiped the swept from our collective brows and braved another bloody uphill. You can check out the infamous clip here – which we referred to afterwards with a mixture of humour and disdain. Nobody cried in this promo video. Nobody’s makeup went out of place. They spent a lot of time playing pool in this video. Or admiring waterfalls. HA!
A dose of reality awaited us. And we learned that there are no poisonous animals in New Zealand, but that the bush can kill you for sure.
In fairness, we probably had not done our research as well as we should have. Julia was so convinced this would be a fairly easy ride she tackled what turned out to be some serious mountain track on a Specialized Cirrus hybrid with slick tyres, without even a helmet. City girl through and through. Oak meanwhile on his heavy duty mountain bike had a large amount of weight to pull uphill with his little 9 year old legs. In fact, a solid 850 metres were climbed in the first 12k.
The Start of the Timber Trail
Of course, all of this was grist for the mill for Sean. But even he, as a seasoned rider of Devon’s hills in the UK, reckoned this was hard going and knew pretty soon that we had seriously underestimated the track.
What got Julia through was the thought that she had given birth - so what the hell was the Timber Trail anyway. By about 10k she was literally praying to the Maori ancestors – who had run across this land in a race for ownership centuries beforehand and who’s level of health was almost unfathomable. She prayed to them for strength with every turn of the pedals. She may not have the aerobic fitness of her husband. But she has the tenacity of someone who has run a small business for ten years through a recession and an austerity government. There was basically no way she wasn’t going to make it.
What got Oak through was the gentle encouragement of his parents, together with the occasional handful of trail mix. And the promise that it would soon all be over anyway and he could basically be on the Ipad for DAYS after this.
By 21k in the family was ready to break – Julia and Oak from exhaustion. And Sean from having to hold us through it.
So we rested at 21k. With the knowledge that we were only half way and already our bodies were over it completely. Half way and at the top of a ridge. Miles and miles from mobile contact. Miles and miles from an escape route. Miles and miles from proper rest. With a diminishing supply of food and water, and really not enough clothing to keep us warm if we were forced into an overnight camp out.
This was pretty serious then. And if we weren’t to be airlifted of this mountain, we better sure as hell find a way down it.
To be continued...