A New Zealand "Sabbatical"
Permanent link to archive for 02/02/02. Saturday, February 02, 2002

A Ride To Windward

Couldn't wait to get out of Jack's and left around 8:30am. The intended destination was Pedallers Rest Cycle Stop at the Ure River, about half way to Kaikoura...didn't make it. Only two days of cycling and it was the first "What the heck am I doing for?" day.
It started out quite nicely, with a blue sky and no wind. The first 10K were flat, through fields and vineyards. I stopped to take a picture at the Montana winery, which, with the hills in the background, looked just like it would belong in Napa Valley. At about 10km the hills started.
The first one was 6.5km up and it was considerably harder than yesterday. I had to stop 5 or 6 times. Towards the top I was stopping every 500 meters to catch my breath and rest my legs. I would have never been able to make with my old gearing, that big ring is saving me. Once I cam over the crest, the wind hit, big time. It was blowing at least 30kts. There were times when I was pedaling down hills to keep from slowing down. On the flats, I was traveling in my next to lowest gear, directly to windward. It was so windy that I almost didn't mind the double trailer trucks going by since they provided a wind shadow for a couple of seconds.
The wind was so strong that I had to use the low gear on almost all upward grades. It became increasing harder to do, since I had to pedal pretty quickly just to keep the bike balanced and as I got tired, I couldn't keep up the cadence very long. After crossing the Awatere River on a double decked, but single lane bridge, I got to the next town, Seddon, at 25km out, it was obvious that I wasn't going to make it to the Pedaller's Rest, which was 29km from Seddon.
I stopped at a little cafe, where they were very nice (almost everyone has been super friendly) for a cup of tea (with lots of sugar). They had a small poster for a Farm Stay inviting cyclists. So I headed off there. It was, unfortunately, 10km further up the road to windward, with a couple of hills thrown in for extra pleasure, but I made it. I do think that I hit my windiest spot in this part though. I came into a cut where I swear it was blowing 50.
The Clifford Bay Farm Stay is a whole lot nicer than Jack's. It is near the shore of Lake Grassmere, which seems to be an really shallow estuary, since they have a salt works on the lake. (I took a picture of the drying ponds near the highway, which are pink.) The farmer's name is Pete Davison. He's about 60 and raises sheep for stud. They are a South African breed and Pete seems to have brought them into New Zealand. Strangely, to me at least, they shed their wool, which Pete said isn't very good wool, anyway. They are good for meat though.
I'm the only guest. He only gets a couple of guests a week and has both a double bedroom as a bed & breakfast and a four bunk dorm room (which I'm staying in). For NZ$15 a night, I even get free-range eggs for breakfast(I must take only the large ones, since they are too big to fit in the egg crates) and he even fed me dinner as I was the only guest. I'd recommend it.

Posted at 10:24:46 PM  

Daily Digest 2 Feb 2002

  • Cycle Dist:39.6km, Total Ascent:569 meters
  • Spent: NZ$22.00
  • Start: Blenheim
  • End: Clifford Bay Farmstay,near Lake Grassmere

Posted at 2:52:35 PM  

On To Blenheim

I got up this morning and it was cloudy and blowing about 25 knots southeasterly, directly to windward. After having a breakfast of yogurt & Muesli and two lattes (I have a miniature espresso maker that makes a double shot and a milk frother--It was one of the things that I couldn't give upwhen I lightened up), I decided to try it anyway. The trip from Picton to Blenheim started with a rather long hill, but after that it was pretty flat. It wound through the hills and then out onto a plain just before Blenheim. The wind wasn't bad in the hills, but was a little gusty when I got to the open spaces near Blenheim. The road was quite busy. It seemed that the cars were going about 100kph and there were a number of those big double trailer trucks. It has a nice wide paved shoulder along most of it, but they pave by spreading tar and then gravel on top and rolling it, so the shoulder significantly rougher than inside the lines where it has been smoothed out by traffic.
Among the sights along the way was an Alpaca farm, along with the usual sheep, cattle and deer. There was also this car going the other way with a Boxer with its head out the window and the longest tongue flapping in the breeze I've ever seen. I stopped about 18km out at the Koromiko cheese factory and shop. It said "The World's Finest Cheeses", so how could I resist. They did taste pretty good, so I got a little package of their sharp cheddar.
It is pretty cool, windy and gray here in Blenheim, which is definitely an agricultural town, sort of like Napa, but not quite so trendy. It has the requisite two or three supermarkets, lots ot supply stores, heavier service industry on the outskirts and a pretty nice downtown. They have an interesting method of slowing the traffic here in New Zealand. I've seen it here, in Picton, and on some of the smaller streets in Auckland. They have crosswalks that double as speedbumps. The crosswalk is elevated to the same height as the sidewalks and has a cobblestone ramp on each side. The center section is brick. The cars have to slow down to get over them, but it is kind of like riding up and then down, not a jarring bump.
Spent the night at Jack's Backpackers on High Street, Bleheim. I wouldn't recommend it. Just a little too run-down and grubby for me. The bed was clean and comfortable enough, but the only place they had hot water was in the shower. They had a instant hot water heater for coffee and tea in the kitchen. I used water for that to rinse my dishes. About the only other guests were a group of Japanese, who may have been traveling together since there was only a single car in the drive. The best thing about the place were Jack and Beau, two Border Collies who run the place.

Posted at 2:49:03 PM  

Last update: 2/22/02; 10:27:11 PM
Copyright 2002 - Steven Magnell

Click here to see the XML version of this weblog.

This site is edited with Radio UserLand, the first personal Web Application server for Windows and Macintosh.