Another year, another expedition to the Graperide. 8 of us headed south in Greg's van and booked into the Voodoo lounge at my parents place.
As usual the casual and friendly atmosphere that you get on the Bluebridge Ferry outweighed the only negative, the smell of livestock being transported somewhere to be turned into burgers I guess. Probably good to remind us where burgers come from.
Mum was there to greet us with some fresh road kill, which we took home to feed a convalescing hawk they were rehabilitating.
The next day a very early start had us there on the start line with almost an hour to go, just to try and get away in the first wave. It was a close thing. Gav and I held Neil's bike for 40 minutes while he queued for the toilet. In true Koru Club fashion he turned up just as the hooter sounded!
The pace was fast from the gun as we rode the crazy winding course out of the Vineyard. People were rubber-banding all over the show with big gaps popping up between all the of the riders as they tried to navigate the corners at speed.
It was my turn to pop on the 1st hill just out of Picton. Not enough riding in the last month saw me not able to hold a wheel so I sat up after a while and regrouped with some guys who knew how to form a paceline (mostly). Conditions were great, warm and a little overcast with a southerly.
14 year old Nicole who hadn't ridden her bike since January snuck home in under 6 hours, while Greg's tandem stoker Ryan (aged 8) had the glory of being the youngest ever rider to finish the Graperide!
The rest of the guys, Dave and Neil had gone slower than the previous year, not surprising given their lack of training, but Gav got a PB !!! We felt bad leaving the site after only about 3 hours, as Nicole had not quite finished, but the MC had a voice that just drilled right into your brain, we had to go. Unfortunately for the trip back to the house, the wind had swung right around and it was a stiff northerly. Poor Dave was blown-as broo. I went back in the truck and picked him up to save him from cycling the last 400 metres.
Kathleen ordered up at least 11 pizzas and lashings of liquid amber. We had a good crowd of extra family members from the south island by the time we had finished.
Dave often enjoys the sleeping component of these trips the most, and because Neil's camera came without batteries I was forced to document these naps with my cell phone, and the various props that just seemed to be lying around in the Voodoo lounge came in handy. Kathleen was playing camp mother to Ryan and berating him for drinking sugary beverages so late into the night. He still nodded off first and even slept for the entire ferry ride home the next day!
On the sunday we did the usual tour of the local produce markets and were all primed up for our ferry trip home with stinky cheese, licorice, good wines and paper cups stolen from the terminal. Mission accomplished : )