One of the best rides one could have was from Hanmer Springs to Reefton. I took only a couple of photos – the heavily forested ride through and over the mountains was so beautiful and flowed so nicely on the bike that I decided that this day was devoted solely to the ride. It was solely for me – for all of us cyclists. It was a fabulous day.
We did have over 1650m of climbing which was mostly over by lunch time and then a huge flowing downhill that wound through the river valley surrounded by the mountains we had been cycling in all day. This forest was more like Colorado or maybe parts of Montana than anything we had previously experienced in New Zealand. We started out with Q, Bridget and I and then Terry joined us at lunch time. I think that the trip itself was so inspiring that we arrived before two in Reeftown on what should have been a tough day, feeling great.
The first thing we looked for was a shop with thick shakes. That has become our drink of choice when we first arrive. We have been getting in before our truck and trailer so we don’t have clothes to change into if we shower so a visit to the nearest cafe is our first order of business.
Even though this ride left us feeling great it still was very long and tough – one does get worn down by the challenge of several long days on the bike. The following day’s trip to Hokitika felt long to me. My legs were feeling a little dead. The course was 137km with almost no climbing. We reached the west coast and followed it down to town. It was not the inspiring day that the previous one had been and though we were in quite early, I was bushed. The afternoon had brought showers and we were all wet and a little cold when we arrived at our Pub/Bar/accomodations. We also had no clothes to change into so showers were out till the the truck came. This Pub had 18 beds and there are 21 of us. I plopped down in a room with two beds and promptly took a nap. When I awoke the bags had arrived and there was a que for the single shower room. It turned out that two people were to sleep on cots in the bar and another in a spare room off of the kitchen. This was an old time Pub with many sports trophies, country flags, photos of great athletes and, of course, the televisions showing the horse races and dog races that pub patrons were always placing bets on. A few of the regulars had shown up and there was really a colorful bunch in their favorite chairs. When I got out of the shower and into a place at a group table, an old beater car pulled up outside the door and in came a good old boy with white hair matted in all directions, a scruffy beard, dirty old white T-shirt and a couple of dogs looking in from the car window who looked just like him. It was great. He ordered a pitcher of beer for himself and got right into the flow of the bar conversation. They had to get their drinking in early as our hosts were closing the bar early to take care of dinner for all of us.
We took a walk downtown and were amazed at all the shops selling jade. We had traveled through several old gold mining and coal mining towns along the way but Jade was king here. Peter was looking for something for his granddaughters so Q and I tagged along in quite a few shops until I spotted a Smoothie shop and settled in to have one. The joke between us started a few towns ago when I ordered two beers for them and a smoothie for me. Just lucky Vince hadn’t been there for that one. A smoothie is not quite manly enough for Kiwis who like their beer. We didn’t find anything for the grandkids but did find a spot for those two to enjoy a local brew.
Today we traveled 134K’s along what would have been a fabulous ride through the mountains to Frans Josef Glacier. The whole day was shrouded in fog and low hanging clouds which obscured everything down to about 100 feet. Rain followed us all day and we were pretty damn wet when we arrived. Again, we had no clothes to change into but we did find heaters in all of our rooms which warmed us up quickly. A barbecue was planned for six which gave us time to wander downtown in a place dominated by helicopter trips up to the Frans Josef Glaciers. We would’t have been able to see much today even if we wanted to go there but a couple of busloads of Chinese tourists were wandering around this little town unable to get to the glacier.
I found a smoothie and then headed home to enjoy the barbecue headed by Wayne and Scott’s skills as chefs.