I was transiting from Tonga to Kiribati and had a full day off between flights. While my colleagues looked at options like the beach, I’ve never been one for anything so sedate. A quick Google search on the internet found me ‘Stinger Bikes’ who not only assemble bicycles but also do guided mountain bike tours. So I agreed to a 40 km tour around the Nadi area and Sunday morning was raring to go.
I had not done any serious cycling for a few weeks so but when I read the comments on Trip Advisor from other riders I realized that even untrained (for me) I was probably a lot stronger a rider than most of the usual clientele. We agreed on a 45 km ride which could be done in either of two directions. I opted for the direction with the longest downhill ride which, as you can see from the elevation profile below, was a good call.
This was the most under equipped ride I’ve done in a while. I had regular running shoes and it was so bizarre not being clipped into the pedal. I felt like I had no control over the bike, not that I have much even at the best of times. The bike itself felt as heavy as my loaded Tour Divide race titanium bike, so if nothing else I got a good workout! I also had not brought my hydration pack this trip so the one water bottle didn’t last long. At least I still had some of my Kinesys sport suntan lotion because the day was HOT.
The ride was along gravel and earth roads, mainly serving the sugar and forestry industries. They ranged from heavily rutted with loose stones to very high quality graded roads. There was no technical riding, the biggest challenge being navigating some of the ruts and stones in the roads. Actually, that was the second biggest challenge, the biggest challenge was the sun. Did I mention it was HOT?
While the route was hilly, but not excessively so and we were rewarded with views of beautiful rural Fiji. Although I’ve passed through Nadi countless times this was the first time I had gone inland. It really was a different world with the tree clad mountains, pine stands etc. Robert was a great guide and provided excellent company as well. He had done a few Ironman races so we could commiserate with other over our past glories 🙂 One thing that I really appreciated was the absence of dogs: too often in developing countries you encounter unpleasant canines. Or should I say canines with a taste for Caucasians!
We had a few options for getting home and I opted for one with a shop as I was in need of a drink. Yes, it was HOT. We lounged in the veranda of this small village store and I reflected that probably not a lot has changed in the last few years as the store reminded me of one I visited in Fiji in 1983 during my first time in the country.
The trip ended too soon and Robert took me back to my hotel. An excellent interlude and highly recommended if you have half a day in Fiji.