Slept much better this time, maybe because I'm more tired with 2 days riding in the legs. Woke about 6 and took about an hour to scoff left over pizza and pack my stuff up. Some had already left and some were sleeping late, Mike was trying to track down the issue with his tyre by the time I left for the Braeburn Track. The chaffing I had got on the first day, possibly because my shorts weren't sitting quite right, had got no worse, I had come to learn there is no dignified way to apply chamois cream and that it also fantastic for nipples. I didn't enjoy the Braeburn too much, mostly because I was struggling to get moving. Crawled into Murchison at about 9 feeling a bit flat.
Brekkie in the Murch
Breakfast time at Beechwoods, Hanna, Jo and Brett who had also camped at Rotoroa were already there, I had spotted Phil at another cafe in town, the biggest breakfast available seemed to be the standard fare, this time with baked beans! I left Murchison after the others the proceeded to ride down gravel road that runs parallel to the Matakitaki river, caught Martin, Alistair, Brett, Hanna and Jo at the bridge, Phil was also apparenetly not too far ahead. A good chance to have a wee rest and refill water stores, the river it seems is infested with trout.
I left after the others, but regrouped after the Maruia saddle at Reids Store in Mariua, where Mike also caught up. To this point the ride out of Murchison and Maruia Saddle were one of the most enjoyable parts of the Brevet, the climb up the saddle is reasonably gentle, one of the spots I would go back to. Reids was one of those places that seemed to have grown used to the steady stream of smelly cyclists passing through and were only to happy to fill dry bottles and camelabaks. Since leaving the Maruia Saddle and hitting the highway again it had got very hot, and on leaving Maruia onto The West Bank Rd to Springs Junction a headwind had also sprung up. Half way along the West Bank Rd I got my first puncture, it was a releif to sit in the shade and replace the tube and repair the hole in the tube I had just removed. It was still hot when I got to Springs Junction, apparently last time the cafe had been handing out muffins to Brevet riders, no such luck this time. I got an ice cream, gold rush, and said goodbye to Mike who had decided to turn left and do the Brevette course, Martin and Alistair were also apparently mulling the same question. After reading the twitterr messages it seems quite a few made the choice to turn left at this point. I had lost touch with the others after my puncture.
I had been thinking I might try for the Big River Hut, a DOC hut of palatial proportions tonight, but first I had to climb the Rahu saddle (690m), the payoff being the nearly 35km downhill into Reefton. 3/4 of the way to Reefton I had a quick stop for a stretch and a snack, on giving the bike the once over I discovered that my rear deraileur cable had frayed half way through, seems to be something to watch with the new XT deraileurs with their more direct and exposed cable routing. Bugger. I had heard that there was a sports shop in Reefton so I did a quick recce on my way into town, and yes there was, but it didn't open until 9 tomorrow morning, there was an emergency number, but this didn't really seem like an emergency. Brett was in town booking accommodation, I booked a room at the Reefton Auto Lodge and ran into Phil, we had a chat and shared the washing machine and dryer. I had an meal at the bar which I virtually inhaled along with a heineken and a litre of water. Did I mention the first shower in 3 days, the locals must have smelt us coming long before they saw us. Took the opportunity to charge up the phone and call the family, slept in a proper bed, luxury. Day 3 about 153km in 12 hours.