The Beautiful Outdoors

IMG_3654IMG_3656IMG_3661IMG_3675IMG_3670March 11

The trip to Wanaka from Frans Joseph Glacier started out cold and overcast. I was tired after these several tough cycling days without a rest. Even Q had been complaining that his legs were dead. Terry was up early and wanted to ride with us so we took off at a fairly brisjk pace, then Bridget dropped off saying she wanted a slower pace. As we rode along I told Terry that I was tired and needed to ride on my own but agreed to move on together until we reached the big climb of the day, then he and Q should just push ahead together and I would tap along. The scenery was great, we had moved back into the rainforest which is so beautiful here on the South Island.

We had 141K’s with over 1600 meters of climbing. All you can do with that much climbing when you are tired is just slowly grind away on the pedals and let time get you up and over the slopes. Q and Terry waited at lunch for me and Bridget came into view not long after I get there. We continued on to the nice little outdoor town of Wanaka where we had a day off. The town lies on the banks of Lake Wanaka and is surrounded by large mountains. There are 4 ski resorts in the area plus a cross country ski area. We had pedaled past the rainforest – these mountains are mostly bare leading me to wonder about the effects of wind on the winter skiing. One of the areas still had quite a bit of snow up high. On our free day some of us hopped into the two vehicles and drove the 22K up to Cardrona to the famous hotel there for drinks and lunch. It was a lovely spot. The hotel dated from 1863 and had retained the old flavor of its bygone days. I took photos of the 1926 Chevrolet converted into a makeshift pickup and a very old cute little tricycle sitting in a shed behind the old hotel. We sat in the sun and enjoyed our meal and the chance to relax. It was a nice day here.

I’m finding it difficult to keep up this blog. We are a very social group. When we are done riding for the day there is always plenty of mingling and exploring to be done. The wine club, dinners and our early bed time haven’t left me much alone time for reflection on the day’s ride, people, and my own thoughts while traveling on the bike. This is not a complaint in any way- just letting you know why you’re not hearing much from me.

Our ride to Queenstown was a big day for all of us. It was not far – just 74K – but what a ride. The mornings are now quite cool. In the low 40’s. Today we were crossing a pass and Lindsay had warned us of big winds on top with rapidly dropping temps. We wouldn’t have a lunch truck because the roadway down the other side of the pass was too steep to pull our trailer down safely. The vehicles were taking a different route. Q, Bridget and I headed out back towards the old hotel we had visited the previous day with ominous rain clouds just ahead. Michael and Horst also joined us. The rain was moving along ahead and seemed to be dissipating before we reached it. We were thanking our lucky stars as the K’s passed by and we climbed up and around these big hills leading to the pass. Life changed very suddenly when we reached the top, however, and were hit head-on by sheets of cold rain driven hard by the big wind. It was a long steep cold drop down the other side. The rain penetrated my light raincoat like it wasn’t even there. My hands were numb riding the brakes in a desperate effort to slow down the freezing effects of this relentless blast downhill. Finally our Garmins indicated a turn onto a gravel side road. None of us could see very well with glasses dotted with rainwater. A short time after entering our new track, Q turned back remembering that Heather, who was behind us, had no Garmin and would probably miss the turn. Michael, Bridget and I waited but found ourselves too cold not to keep moving. The gravel track became a steep muddy downhill – my back wheel slid along the ruts at one point and I had to catch myself with my right hand to keep from following the bike into the mud. We were all shivering when we caught up to Scott, Lee, Wayne and Trish who had left before us this morning. We only had a short ride from there into the cute little town of Arrowtown where we dripped on into a nice little cafe. Two cups of hot drinks and a big breakfast restored us and the sun’s appearance in the clearing sky made the rest of the day really delightfull. Weather changes fast and often down here. Even the big headwind that met us on our ride into Queenstown did little to affect our buoyant spirits.

Q had waited for Heather and got her onto the gravel track but she took a bad spill coming down the muddy downhill. He ended up carrying both bikes all the way down the hill and pulling her along through the headwinds directly into Queenstown. Q is quite a guy.

I’ll have to finish later as it’s time for breakfast and another ride.

7 thoughts on “The Beautiful Outdoors

  1. Sounds like your having way too much fun down there:) You better come home March mud.

  2. I hope you can continue writing. We live it with you and you will live it again when you re-read what you wrote!

  3. Okay, Buck, I found the rest of your entries. I CANNOT imagine biking that pass into Arrowtown! Good on ya….

    1. That ride and the ride into Balclutha were the coldest and wettest days of the trip. The ride into Blaclutha was the toughest – but they had their rewards too. Definitely something to talk about.

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