Rainy Start, Sunny End

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02/02/08
Hi folks. I hope you’re all doing well, and feeling better than I am at the moment! You know, it really sucks when you get a summer cold, doesn’t it? Right now, I’m feeling absolutely miserable as I write up this post. I have full intentions of finishing it up, grabbing a bite to eat somewhere, and going straight to bed where I may listen to some music for a while before I [hopefully] fall asleep early. Today was actually a really good day on the bike, in spite of the weather, but tomorrow, thanks to some boneheaded mistake by me and some pre-booking, will be my first 100+km day, ending up somewhere to camp hopefully. Yup, I mis-read my guide book, and missed a 30km distance marking. Oops. I got excited, and pre-booked my ice-climbing day on Fox Glacier for Feb. 5th in anticipation of getting there in 2 days, and already paid 50% for it. So, that means I’ll just have to slug it out tomorrow and ride a long day. Hopefully the weather will be similar to today’s, which blessed me with a tailwind. Read on and check out the map for all the gory details!

I awoke this morning to the sound of roaring rain. Yup, the ‘wet’ coast was living up to expectations for sure today. The rain was driving hard, and was making it rather unattractive to get up and pack up my gear, load up the soggy trailer, and hit the road. There was one slight blessing however. The winds were northerlies, and we were heading southwest, which meant we’d have a tailwind. We? Oh yeah, I met up with an Israeli cyclist named Jossy, and we were heading the same way, so decided to ride together. Ultimately, he decided to keep going 30km down the road, and I stayed here. The further spot would have meant 2 days camping in possibly bad weather, instead of one good night in a hostel and one night camping. Given my cold, I think I made the right decision in spite of the extra distance I’ll have to do tomorrow.

Anyway, back to the ride. We were out on the road before 8:30 and pushing hard through the wet weather. First stop would be in Greymouth, a mere 45km away, so we knew we’d have a chance to thaw out and fill our stomachs once we got there. The road leading there was likely a spectacular coastal highway, but all we really saw was rain and fog, with a bit of coast, and some shrouded cliffs. Of course, you can see that by my pictures, can’t you? The lack of scenery made it that much easier to just concentrate on spinning the pedals. I’m sure being soaking wet didn’t help my cold any, but what choice did I really have? I’m really having a runny nose quite badly now, so perhaps that means the cold is already passing through? Here’s hoping. No beer tonight for sure 🙂

Greymouth lived up to all expectations, which were pretty low. Grey by name, grey by sight today. I guess it’s probably not fair of me to say that, given that I essentially just passed through, but there wasn’t any real reason to spend the night there. Best to just keep making forward progress into the southwest of this magnificent country, where more mountains, and glaciers and adventure await me. We probably spent around an hour and a half in town, warming up and drying up a little bit while eating some hot pies and deserts. We also popped into a couple cycle stores to do some browsing, and the tourist info center, which once again confirmed moving on was A-Ok.

We originally thought we’d spend longer, but we opted to just hit the road, as the next 40km would be relatively flat, and fast, so we knew we could make good time. Before leaving Greymouth, Jossy put on a hat, long pants and was essentially all bundled up. I had to laugh. Even funnier was the fact that shortly after we left Greymouth, the rain ceased, and it started getting really hot. We had to stop to take off some layers. The weather around here really can change in the blink of an eye. The tailwind was a heaven-send, and we were cruising along at a great pace. Before long, I got to the Birdsong Backpackers. Jossy had been ahead, but was nowhere to be seen.

I started settling in, when Jossy finally showed up. He’d been paying no attention, and just blew straight by it, and rode another 1.5k into town before realizing it. On the plus side, he stopped to pick us up each a steak pie for a snack. By now, the sun was high in the sky and it was HOT! I was perfectly content to call it a day after the 82km. However, Jossy hemmed and hawed for a while before finally canceling his night at the birdsong and decided to ride on south. He has a lot less time than me though, as his flight departs Feb.18th, and he wants to have more time in the south. As it stands, I’m making quite good time as well, but don’t feel as though I’m rushing at all, which is a good thing.

So that leads us to right now, which is just around 6:30pm. I’m getting a little peckish, and plan to venture the 2-3km into town and find some grub and some breakfast at the supermarket. The only other memorable thing today, for me specifically, is that I had to bike past the starting point for the Speight’s Coast to Coast. Some of you know I had really hoped to do that race, and it takes place about a week from now, but I had to settle for just looking at posters, and seeing the start at Kumara Junction. Oh well, someday perhaps! With that, I’ll sign off for now, and wish you all pleasant days, and no colds.

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