The distance (about 80km) was not the problem, but two solid climbs, first to The Neck and then to Haast Pass, sucked the energy and enthusiasm out of my legs, lungs, stomach and all other parts of my body and brain. I tried eating my own fat, but even that gave only temporary relief.
The day started quietly enough, with a roll up and down those NZ ‘undulations’ beside lovely Lake Hawea.
The trouble started with the climb over the col to descend back to the northern end of Lake Wanaka…
…and things only deteriorated when the option was offered to climb the Haast Pass. Not everyone took it on, but this time I had to test myself.
From there it was a gentle roll down the hill to Haast, but by them my body had had enough.
The village of Haast has a population of 4 million. 200 of these are human residents; the rest are sandflies. It is mainly notable for the Hard Antler bar and restaurant, where a moose keeps watch over the flat screen TV.
It was a relief to start out of Haast on Day 3 with 18km on the more or less flat, but it wasn’t to last.
Four of us took on the sharpish three stage climb…and bloody hell, David from Belfast, into his eighth decade, is unquestionably the fittest of all of us.
He answered every challenge Hugo and I could throw at him on the 9km climb to Knights’ Lookout, reached the top ahead of us, then rode on past the designated stopping point to add rather a lot of extra kilometres to his daily distance. He definitely owns the yellow jersey and shows no signs of relinquishing it. ‘We say we’re not competitive,’ he says, ‘but…’.
I wanted to get to the top first too, but he was too good on the day.
Doping officials will be checking his water bottle.
The writer was the guest of Adventure South.