After 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).
We cycled back to the hostel in the rain and by the time we returned I was freezing so had to go and shower just to warm up. We ate a spot of brekkie and by 10:30 we were loaded up and ready to go on the 90km to Rakaia Gorge. It was barely raining by this point, so we navigated the 10km through Christchurch and then had 40km of, to be honest, boring long straight roads. We were climbing constantly, probably at around a 0.5% gradient. Yeah that doesn’t sound much but it means basically no freewheeling at any point. The weather was generally OK. It was grey and not that warm (arm warmers and gilet required, plus I had on my toe thingies – thanks sisters!) and we made steady progress to Darfield; we had one mishap where our plotted route wanted to take us down a gravel road, so we had to take a slightly longer detour. We arrived at Darfield, where we stopped to buy food for that evening/next day, plus to eat our lunch. I got cold eating lunch (again) so we didn’t hang around long.
After Darfield, the scenery improved with hills around us and the roads weren’t so straight anymore. It genuinely felt like we were in Scotland, the only thing missing the purple/amber hues that can be seen on the Scottish hills. There were lots of sheep. We’ve definitely seen more sheep than people so far!
In the last 15 or so km of the ride the road started to climb more steeply, which was great for warming me up, and the arm warmers finally got rolled down. We climbed and climbed and climbed (well, that’s what it felt like) eventually reaching around 430m of elevation and we popped out from a tree lined road to view the absolutely spectacular Rakaia Gorge. We both stopped to stare. We weren’t in Scotland any more, oh no, this was something on a far bigger scale. We could see our campsite in the distance, the only thing in our way a long swooping descent. And so, with big grins on our faces we pushed off and let our bikes build their own momentum, gathering pace and swishing down the road.
We pulled into the beautiful campsite, got shown to a pitch with amazing views, popped the tent up and congratulated ourselves on being lucky enough to experience such a place, the dull roads of this morning, and the wind of yesterday all but forgotten.
Despite the grey cloud, I’ve burnt my nose.