Up at 4am, on the road at 5am. I figured there would be enough time. Two hours to cover 20km. Even on hills experience tells me that this is a manageable pace. As it happened I cut it very close.
The hour and a half riding in the dark was pretty good. The sections where it was steep enough to get off the bike and push were pretty good. Turned the light off and let the eyes adjust to the dark. The sky was only partly cloudy so there was a fairly good view of the sky. No moon that I could see and the Milky Way was just fantastic. :)
It had gotten light enough that I didn't need the light any more and could actually see the terrain around me. First sign of direct sunlight was on a cloud still fairly high in the sky. There was still about 4 km to go when I spotted this and started picking up the pace a little. I eventually reached the car park and could see the sun just starting to appear. There was no lighthouse though. Spotted the gateway and rode through. Spotted the lighthouse and it was still in the shade. It was only minutes from first light though and it was too far to get there on foot. The path is paved, rough (good grip), had not seen any signs saying not too take bikes on it and there was no one else here so I started riding. Got some good speed on after the first hairpin corner too. :) But I made it.
Two hours, final 20km of a 2895km trip and my target destination and time was achieved with seconds to spare. :) Best possible end of journey I could hope for.
This wasn't the end of the day though. After exploring the area and satisfying the urge to record everything with the camera I settled in and started reading. A couple of hours later cleaning staff and grounds keepers arrived and about an hour after that visitors started arriving. The first couple of buses arrived but were fairly full and obviously didn't have the capacity for a bike. I did eventually find one though. After telling them about the project they even offered to get me back to Awanui for free. :) Chatted with Barry (the driver) for quite a while and after the bus was loaded up and just before leaving he announced the new passenger, told everyone what I'd just finished and I got a round of applause from the whole bus. :) The bus was one that was taking tourists up 90 Mile Beach and the trip back down the beach was a pretty cool way to get most of the way back.
Barry, if you ever read this, it's very much appreciated.
From Awanui it was an 8km ride to the end of the day. Got a bed at a backpackers and tried to buy some dinner but the card was declined. I had cash though and there should be enough to get me back to Auckland tomorrow.
Right now though, I'm going to have an early night.
I always wondered how people could afford to do this sort of trip. I guess I've found out. :)