Riding through the rain forest

Philippa crossing the Haast riverWhen we got to Haast on Wednesday afternoon it had just started drizzling, which quickly turned into showers. We got the tent up during a couple of dry spells before the showers turned into torrential rain. We hid in the aircraft hanger that had been converted into a living room / kitchen area at the campsite and looked in amazement at the NZ Met Office prediction of Thursday being dry. We went to bed to hear the rain hammering down and the end of Philippa’s sleeping bag & Thermarest had even got a tiny bit wet. Naturally she wasn’t too happy and the west coast wasn’t looking like a great option. We were wondering what the hell we were doing here, regardless of the fantastic ride we’d had from Wanaka over to Haast. Continue reading

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Scotland on steroids

Gates of HaastWhen we got to Wanaka we were still undecided as to what direction we’d take. The west coast would make a more logical journey for us, but it would likely be wetter. Going east would have an off road trail to follow to Dunedin, but we’d then have to take a bus back to Christchurch as neither of us wanted to cycle Highway 1. As we’d done 120 km the previous day we spent a day not cycling, giving us time to make our decision. We spent a relaxed day wandering around Wanaka, stocking up on food & eating really good wood fired pizza for lunch. The forecast for the west coast was looking good, so we decided to give it a go, heading off from Wanaka yesterday (Tuesday). So of course we awoke on Tuesday morning to rain….. Continue reading

Up and over the Lindis Pass

Top of the Lindis PassHaving made it to Twizel on Friday night we then faced a choice on Saturday of either a short 30km to Omarama, or making an attempt to go about 90km over the Lindis Pass to a DOC (Department of Conservation) campsite. Of course, given the choice, I picked the short version. The campsite host in Omarama informed us that we had made a good choice as a concert in Queenstown meant the road over the Lindis on Saturday had been busier than usual. Given some of the rather close overtakes we have been subject to so far this was good news indeed. Plus, we got fluffy towels in Omarama – a little perk they offer to all cyclists. Nice. And Omarama has a statue of a Merino sheep in it – cute. Continue reading

Sunshine and mountains

Burkes PassThings have been looking up after the wet weather. We left Fairlie yesterday (Thursday) and cycled into the hills. We were expecting to climb from Fairlie up to the summit of Burkes Pass, a climb of 400 m or so, and then roll down the other side to Tepako Lake, where there’s a campsite. 45 or so km, so a nice short ride. After leaving Fairlie it felt like we were cycling in Scotland, with massive hills raising up from the farmland below, which was a marked change after the flatlands of the Canterbury Plains. We knew it wasn’t really Scotland because it was too sunny. The road from Fairlie started to gradually climb up to the hamlet of Burkes Pass, which confusingly is before the top of Burkes Pass. The final kilometre or so up to the top of the pass was the steepest, although I’m not sure of the actual gradient. The top appeared at just over 700 m, from where we thought we’d have a nice gradual descent, but oh no. Continue reading

Turn that frown upside down

P1040170The last few weeks has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me. From sadness at leaving behind friends and family, fear of the unknown, worry of what’s to come, excitement, frustration and everything in between. I always knew that at some point this trip I would have a bit of a wobble but I didn’t expect it to come so early on, nor did I expect it to be because of the weather (we’re chasing the summer – what could possibly go wrong!?). Well the rain went wrong. But then the sun made it all seem OK again….. Continue reading

wetandgrumpy rather than tyredandhungry

P1040174On Monday we woke up to pouring rain, but we were dry in the Rawhiti Hostel in Geraldine and our clothes had dried overnight. The Norwegian weather forecasters (http://yr.no) were predicting a break in the weather. The original idea had been to cycle the 70-ish km from Geraldine to Fairlie, via Pleasant Point, but we knew it was only about 30 km to Pleasant Point, where there was a campsite & supermarket, so we planned to use the gap in the rain to at least make some progress. After breakfast we packed up our stuff, but it was still raining. Lots. A German couple who were cycling that we’d spoken to in Christchurch arrived at the hostel at about 10 am after cycling a few kilometres from where they’d spent the night. They booked a room for two nights. A Dutch couple who were on bikes, and had stayed at the Rawhiti Hostel on Sunday night, booked for an extra night. We sat in the living room wearing our cycling clothes watching the rain and praying for the predicted break in the weather. Why were we thinking of cycling? Continue reading

Rain, rain, go away…

P1040149As we sat drinking our tea on Sunday morning, looking at the route ahead (Rakaia Gorge to Geraldine) a few things were obvious; 1) we had a short steep climb of 200m straight out of the campsite; 2) after the climb it would essentially all be downhill (again, a very gentle 0.5% gradient, but going down this time); 3) there was a 20km dead straight road in the second half of the ride, between Mayfield and Arundel. We figured the long straight road would be toughest part of the ride. Nope – not at all. Continue reading

We finally get going!

P1040139After getting stopped by wind on Friday (the wind making front page local news; gales it would seem), we woke up on Saturday morning and headed to Hagley Park for Adam to take part in the local Parkrun. It was raining. Quite a lot. Stupidly I had offered to come along and cheer Adam on, rather than staying in my jail bed. The organiser opened his welcome by saying that of the 68 Parkruns they have held to date, only 3 have been wet. Clearly we are unlucky with the weather! Despite the frustrations of not getting away as planned yesterday, Adam was pleased to get to do the Parkrun (he came 3rd). Continue reading

Not throwing caution to the wind

“I shall stay until the winds change” Mary Poppins

P1040114In this instance I agree whole heartedly with Mary. Since arriving on Tuesday we have heard more than one New Zealander refer to the weather in NZ as “four seasons in one day”. Today we had a single season: the windy one. As we packed up our bikes this morning to leave Haka Lodge on our way to Rakaia Gorge it did seem windy, but in the garden we had no idea in what direction. We pulled onto the road and it was right in our faces. Which was the direction we would be taking all day. Continue reading

Tales of the unexpected

DSCN2457Of a short ride being unexpectedly hard. Of my legs feeling unexpectedly non-compliant. Of my lungs wanting to burst. Of the sudden steep gradient that appeared around a bend. Of the undulating road. Of my misery on the first day of cycling. Of not being able to find a bar despite having the address. I could go on, but you get the picture. Suffice to say that today, which at the start was supposed to involve a nice short bike ride (of about 50 km/30 miles) to “find” our cycling legs and make sure the bikes are all OK unladen turned out to be bloody difficult, it turned out I was not OK (the bike of course was fine), and for a while, had me panicking about the thought of cycling 90 km/55 miles tomorrow with the bikes fully loaded. And of doing this for the next 10 months. Fear not, it is not all doom and gloom, I cheered up at the end. Continue reading