We survived Mount Doom! #TandemTA Tour Aotearoa sails into third week

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The long straight road through the National Park, with Mount Doom in the background

Time again for Jutta to register her stoker’s perspective from Daisy’s back seat…

Yes, we survived Mount Doom and Mordor.

Our bottoms today, at the start of Week Three of our top-to-bottom tour of New Zealand/Aotearoa, anticipated doomsday, with a relentless climb from Turangi at 1200 feet on Lake Taupo up to 3000 feet through Tongariro National Park -Sauron’s domain in Peter Jackson’s filmed version of Lord of the Rings.

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UP into the native forest of New Zealand’s National Park, at the heart of the North Island.

Actually, we managed the relentless inclines slowly but surely over three hours with a few scenic view stops overlooking beautiful Lake Taupo.

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Daisy full steam ahead, with early morning Lake Taupo as a backdrop. Thanks to Peter Wallis, a young Englishman, for taking the photo for us – it’s his simple Chinese folding bike you can see in the picture leaning against the bench. He’s been touring Oz and NZ on this, with the minimum of hit and, at the moment to stop the spokes breaking any more, without even a back brake! Amazing, and well done – though take care…
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Look carefully, and you can see the steam rising from the left of the two summits.

We circled the three majestic volcanoes of New Zealand’s central plateau – Mts Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, Tongariro – with constant view of volcanoes and volcanic steam. (Thankfully, peacefully contained and no rumblings.)

Yesterday, our pinnacle was 2000 ft. As we were inching our way up with Mark monitoring our progress on his gadget, we turned our tour into a year-by-year personal and political history lesson, e.g. 1915 my father’s birthday, 1956 Hungarian uprising, 1974 meeting each other in Moscow, etc.

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Clever prop for Daisy, allowing us to enjoy lunch today without her falling over.

We also reflect at times on the similarities between life and cycling, such as having to be in the moment, enjoying the perks, accepting whatever presents itself and dealing with whatever arises as and when.

So, that begs the question, what’s the difference between life and cycling?

After nearly 900 km I have it on authority:  when you’re cycling, it’s fabulous to be going downhill!

What’s really lovely about travelling in New Zealand is their partiality to mineral spas. Apart from municipal ones many holiday parks in this volcanic part of the country include mineral pools or baths, which we relish at the end of our cycling days.

Tomorrow will be another 90 km or so day towards, perhaps, Wanganui – despite what Mark wrote a couple of days ago, the town is written and pronounced like that, while the river and the region are called Whanganui pronounced Funganui. Even the Kiwis get confused.

Though, on reflection, we may cut the corner and head instead south-east towards the official Tour Aotearoa tracks – where, by the way, the organisers have now posted some fabulous video of the departure from Cape Reinga, where we set off two weeks ago, of the first batch of official TA riders.

No doubt they’ll catch us up in the twinkling of an eye.

Back to tomorrow, there is no need to consult a crystal ball as to what the day will bring. The beautifully hilly countryside around us tells me that it will be another day of up and up we go.

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Daisy in shadow profile – she has the last word, of course.

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