Ma Nature Does me a Solid

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11/03/08
Hello friends! Well, after several days of challenging weather, what with heavy rains, crazy winds, cooler temperatures, etc., it would appear that Mother Nature finally decided to be kind to me and bless me with a remarkably nice day. It was back to the original days of my trip, with very hot temperatures, along with which comes the sweat. However, it was also the return of a glorious tailwind for a great part of my ride, coupled with a predominantly downhill day. Did you get a load of the ride stats on the map? My average speed was 21+ km/hr over a 90km ride! How sweet is that? Well, very sweet, let me tell you. Three days of biking to go after today. Craziness. I must say though, I needed an easier day, as yesterdays summit bid has left my calves screaming today, again, much like I had run a marathon. Glad there are no stairs here at my hostel. When will I learn that boulder jumping down 1000 vertical meters is a bad idea? Probably never, as it’s such great fun. Anyway, read on for the rest of my little tale. Not much to say, but I’ll say it anyway.

Initially, I was rather concerned that I’d have a really bad day. You see, I ended up having to share my room with not only one fellow, but three of them. Two of which didn’t show up until 1:30am, and were crashing and banging around before finally going to bed. Then there was the snoring and creaking of beds. I swear I only slept 3 or 4 hours total, fitfully at that. When my alarm went off at 7:20am, I made good and sure to make a fair bit of noise, and made sure they were awake. One of them blearily asked me if I knew what time it was, and I cheerfully told him it was 7:30. I hope they were as annoyed with me as I was with them. I know that’s a terrible way to live life, but sometimes you’ve gotta help karma along. After all, I was basically all packed, so it was just general noise I made, just a bit louder than I normally would have. After 3 months of this, my patience has worn a little thin for these types. I’m looking forward to sharing my room with just one person, whom I can safely tell to be quieter 🙂

Okay, enough about that. By 8am, I had gotten my key deposit back, and was on my way to the local bakery for breakfast and some road snacks, along with the grocery store stop. I stocked up for the road with a cheese scone, a steak and mushroom pie, two chocolate bars, and some expired Powerade at a good price (don’t worry, expired Powerade is just fine to drink). For my breakfast, a tasty english muffin with ham, cheese and egg, finished off with a peppermint slice. Fully fueled, it was time to hit the cranks. It didn’t take long before I decided the jacket was a bit much for the day. I kept the gloves and arm warmers on though, as my speed was such that it was a touch chilly. At some points, I was rolling along the semi-flats at almost 40km/hr! On the hills, I hit a maximum of about 74km/hr as well. What a rush. I was only slowed down by a few uphill chugs, as well as the occasional section where I’d be turned more into the wind, at which point the forward progress was seriously challenged. Boy was I glad I wasn’t heading TO Tekapo today!

For the most part, this ride just carried me through first the Canterbury High Country, then down to the Canterbury Plains. In the high country, I was amazed at just how brown and dried out this land is. One farmer had told me that the price of livestock is the lowest since the depression, and that things aren’t all that good at the moment. Where a lamb would have normally fetched 60-80NZD before, they are now only getting about 1NZD per lamb! That’s pretty brutal I’d say. However, farmers are always locked in a struggle with nature I think. Another farmer told me he is reducing his sheep and cow stock and getting more irrigation to get grazing land just for the grass. He can get more from selling grass to other farmers than he can for the animals. There’s farming lesson number 2, adapt or die. Enough about farming…

Hmm, sadly there really isn’t that much else to tell you about today though. It was all farmland. I went by only one significant town, Fairlie, but since my time was so good, I just breezed on past. I took one stop at the side of the road to eat my scone while applying sunscreen and refilling my bottles, then a second stop, only 17km from Geraldine to eat my pie and a chocolate bar. That’s where I had a chat with a British couple cycling. They had just left Geraldine after a late start in the day. I was already 74km into my day, and it was just after noon. We chatted for a little while, and it was too bad we were heading opposite directions, as we were getting along well, but such is life. They still had 74km to go to get to Tekapo, most of it uphill, and a lot of it with headwinds, so I bid them good luck and we parted.

Shortly after that, I found myself in Geraldine. I haven’t actually seen the township yet, as the hostel is up on a hill on the way into town, but I’m told there’s not too much here anyway. Although it is a lovely town from what I can see. Nice houses, and a relaxed feel. Apparently it is a good area for crafts and artistry. Of course, I’m not about to start lugging around arts and crafts in my trailer, even if I am only using it another three or so days. Sorry Jody! The hostel I’m staying at is pretty kick ass. It’s a converted maternity hospital, and only cost me 20NZD. That includes an awesome (at least I hope) breakfast of muesli, toast and jams, fruit salad, juice and coffee/tea! You just can’t go wrong. Also, since I got here so early, I’ve had time to do my laundry and hang it to dry, as well as get this post and all the other stuff done before 5:30. Awesome. I can feel a very chill night coming on. There’s a selection of movies here, and I reckon I just might have to prop up my weary legs and watch one tonight with a tasty snack.

Well, that’s it from me. I’m off to the city centre to see what makes Geraldine tick, and hopefully find a good supper option. If not, rumour has it there’s a good butcher with kebabs for sale in town. Hope you’re all coping alright with the ridiculous amounts of snow in Ottawa, for those of you there. I mean really… over 85cm in 3 days? That’s just insanity. Guess I’ll have the chance to snowshoe and do some cross-country skiing when I get back after all. Must be hurting the marathon training for some of you as well, eh? Best of luck either way folks, and I’ll be seeing some of you pretty soon!

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