When I saw TEDx Auckland 2014 announced I really wanted to go but was a bit torn. I loved the 2013 event but it meant a precious day of weekend gone. Weekends were crucial as I was trying to get fit for a rather demanding cycle tour in the Himalayas.
The TEDx 2014 theme was ‘Ascending’:
Ascending is about individuals and society rising to a higher level of consciousness.
Ascending is about finding the positives in any situation and building on them to make our lives, community, business and planet better.
As it turned out, the day spent at TEDx may have been the most valuable trip preparation I ever did thanks to Mike Allsop!
Click on the speakers name to link to their talk (if on YouTube)
Bullet points in italics are unedited notes I took during the day using OneNote on my Nokia Lumia 1520 phone. I also used it for all the photos and John Boone session video clip.
The gathering crowds, the Aotea Centre was a near sell-out!
Todays pass, Lhakpa La, was a real challenge. Starting at 4100m it rose continuously to 5240m. Unlike the earlier passes it was more like a NZ one going straight up a river valley with some steeper gradients, rather than having switchbacks.
There was a bit of traffic on the road. The locals were gathering stones, slate?, and carting them back to the village in motorised carts.
I stopped for a bite to eat at what happened to be about halfway up the pass (although couldn’t see the top). From there the climb got a steeper with little relief. The ‘ledge’ road sign was a new one to me, stay away from the edge!
I found the last ten km a real challenge ending up resting for a few minutes every 2km, 1km nearer the top! Since I was stopping anyway I took a lot of photos! The arch draped with prayer flags which marked the top was a very welcome sight.
A cool headwind arrived and dark clouds were building up on the nearby peaks. The bus was waiting at the top and I was one of the last to get there. it was the first really high pass I’d ridden since being off Diamox which may have been a factor.
Some didn't do all the climb, they'd already taken off towards Tingri. The descent was gradual and the headwind meant you had to pedal to maintain speed.
I stopped for the balance of my (packed) lunch and noticed the clouds were really building, even had a spot of rain. In about 15 minutes the weather went from bright sun to quite a threatening looking storm front building.
Although nominally a sealed road there were lots of road works with long stretches of gravel/dirt, often single lane. Seemed to be no logic to how this was being done as some bits had been ripped up but had no sign of any work going on. Other places had been ripped up and a were being rebuilt. They had small temporary quarry, rock crushing and concrete plant near the road to provide the materials. No Ready-mix concrete deliveries here!
Was glad of the wide tyres, suspension and disc brakes on this downhill. Although the gradient wasn’t especially steep (still had to pedal) had to keep the speed in check on the rough bits.
At one stretch I waited for a truck to come through, to avoid its dust as much as anything. It was carrying the remains of a Mercedes M Class which must have had a rough ride. Every panel was dented, looked like it had rolled several times.
I thought I had 40-50km to go (turned out it was nearer 30km) and was riding alone. As it was getting cold (wind chill) and late decided to jump in the bus when it next appeared. That was further 10km down the road.
I wasn’t sure what we were doing for tea (restaurant/hotel) and didn't want to arrive late and inconvenience the others as 50km could take two or three hours in this terrain. The bus always follows the last rider, those riding it get the same slow trip.
As it turned out the road improved, as did the weather, so could have probably kept riding. I did ride from the last police checkpoint into Shegar as couldn’t got through it on the bus anyway (paperwork!).
Although happy I made the right call at the time this was the only bit of the trip I did on the bus where I could have ridden.
Pity, I can’t say I rode all the way!
The 'hotel' is less than spectacular although one of the best in town. The actual room is tolerable, for a night, but they have no hot water at all!
After several nights of camping and a long day in the saddle looking forward to a shower it was really disappointing. The place was festooned with solar panels but not sure what they were heating.
I felt like pointing out even the word HOTel has more HOT in it than this establishment but doubt they'd understand
Instead of a nice hot shower it was a basin wash with water boiled in the jug. I have a room to myself tonight, well had to share it with my bike but it didn’t mind the snoring…
Dinner (at the hotel) was a very average buffet, mostly vegetables and little meat (none I'd eat, which is rare for this carnivore). Camp meals are much better than this!
Tomorrow we head for Everest Base Camp via Rongbuk Monastery but it'll be a couple of days riding.
One feature, a good one, of Bas’ guiding is that he will ignore the trip notes and change plans if required. The next couple of days were to prove the wisdom of this approach.
Quote of the day:
"Where's that damn bus?" – Me having decided I'd had enough riding for the day. The bus appeared soon enough then later I regretted getting on it. Fickle eh!
Headed for Muriwai, via the back roads, in search of gravel and hills.
I knew there would be hills but found somewhat less gravel than expected as several roads had been sealed.
I suppose the folks who live there don’t miss the winter mud, summer dust!
Found enough to get some practice with the bike, including some full on brake tests. I always like to do a emergency stop, in a car or bike, before you need to actually do an emergency stop!
Must say those ‘Rapid Rob’ tyres (they really are called that!) combined with disk brakes shed speed rather well! According to the velocity meter at some point I was doing 70.1 km/h but the fastest I saw before a brake test was 60. Still surprising how rapidly the bike came to a halt although the roads were damp with little loose gravel.
I like this ride as apart from a few kilometres from Swanson to Waitakere you are away from the main highway. I go up Henderson Valley, Coulter, O’Neills and Christian Rd to Swanson. Then it’s over the hill to Waitakere turning off on to Hunter Rd. From there it is all back roads to Muriwai Beach.
Stopped to take my rainshell off in O’Neills Rd and noticed this opportunity for a selfie…
The steep descent into Muriwai, stunning view over Maori Bay/Muriwai and another chance to test the brakes on the way down. Coming back up combines the same view with a chance to test the legs and lungs!
Full tide, thought about a ride along the beach (it is a legal road!) but that water is salty and it’s a new bike…
Today added 85 km to the odometer, 1650m hill climbing although none of them seemed particularly high so all those ups & downs accumulate!