Monday, December 10, 2007

The Central Otago Rail Trail

Its hot and dry in Central Otago. East of the Southern Alps, this area is in the rain shaddow of the towering peaks, and receives very little rain. An old railway was torn up and turned into a biking trail, and this was my choice of rides. No cars, busses or aeroplanes out here, only bikers and horseback riders.

The hilarity of riding the Rail Trail is how it contrasts to my current geography. The trail had to accomodate a train, and the gradient is no more than 1 in 50- a 2% grade. I am now biking the Banks Peninsula (see the model below). This nubblet of land was formed due to intraplate volcanism about 10 million years ago, and now is just hilly as hell. The elevation map looks like the trail of a bouncy ball, jumping between sealevel and 600m every couple kilometers. The maximum gradient in New Zealand is 1 in 5, and I am sure I have pushed my bike up a fair share of this on the Banks Peninsula.

One morning the sun peaked out from behind the horizon. I spied it from my hammock and was driven to sit on a haybale and watch the glorious event unfold. The resulting day was just as splendid.

I will soon wrap up this adventure and begin another. Life as I know it is about to go into flux...

Coming up: Planes, the Hole, and Production Junction V 2.0

Monday, December 03, 2007

Laid Back Wanaka

I have been presented a dillema. In the middle of the West Coast, another cyclist named Ian had a bit of advise to impart. He told me to avoid the journey from where I am now (Wanaka) across the dry and strait roads to Christchruch, and instead bike south. Perhaps the coast, or maybe to the most southerly point in the southern hemisphere. More on this later...

The transition between bush and dry country was almost instantaneous. I traveled east over the Alps via Haast Pass. The Gates of Haast ate me alive. This section of treacherous road passing over the raging river had an incline that I assume was illegal. Walking the bike was the only option, and after I had a cup of tea to calm the senses.

Things are wrapping up with the tour, and somewhere along the way I lost 2 days. Doh. Maybe the big 3k will be reached, but who knows..