Hitting the Ski Fields

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12/03/08
Hi everyone… I’m back… again! Will I never stop posting and boring you with my stories from the road? Well, in a couple weeks, I suppose the answer will be yes, but for now, there are still a few more things to tell you about, since I’m still biking. I’m well over 4000km into this crazy journey now, for those of you who may be wondering. When I’m done, I’m hoping to be able to put together a ‘super map’ of all my NZ biking, along with a slew of interesting (boring) facts about my cycling. I know Haggerty is already salivating at the thought, but it’ll take quite a bit of work to put it all together. Stay tuned. However, in the meantime, I present to you today’s trip, a leisurely 80km ride from Geraldine to the town of Methven. Methven? Yup, I knew nothing about it either, but it’s quite a place, let me tell you. Check out the map and read on for all the details of this little ride.

I had a great night last night at the hospital for starters. No, not a real hospital, the hostel silly. Remember how I said it used to be a maternity hospital? Anyway, there were four of us in the room, and everyone was pretty quiet and turned in around the same time, which makes for a better night of sleep. Only one snorer in the midst, but he wasn’t too loud. We’d all spent the evening watching the Chronicles of Narnia, which was filmed in NZ, and I had never seen it. Not a bad movie, but I wasn’t that impressed that I’ll have to buy it or anything 🙂 I had my traditional giant beer as I watched it, along with a whole bag of chips. I sure will miss this eating style I’ve adopted on the road.

The weather in the morning was very promising again. I awoke just around sunrise, and it looked like it would be a pretty sweet day for riding. However, before heading out, there was the matter of the ‘free’ breakfast, which I was leery about. No need though, this thing was awesome. It took the hostel owner 2 trips to bring out all my food on trays. Very nicely prepared and laid out were my Muesli with fresh fruit, 4 pieces of toast, various spreads in little bowls, and my drinks, along with milk and sugar. It pays to check the web, as I only got this meal because their website said if you mention the web, you get the free breakfast. Sweet! The food was hearty, and just what I needed to get going. Before finally pushing off, I made arrangement for accommodations in Methven for the night, as well as in Christchurch for a few days, as I realized I’d be arriving on a Friday, and my chances of getting into the ‘right’ hostels would be slim. Luckily, I got what I wanted, more on that when I get there though 🙂

On the way out of town, I popped into a bakery which is well known in these parts, in order to pick up some lunch. Can you guess what I got? Yup. A pie. Chicken this time, along with a fresh apple turnover. Again, did I mention that I’ll be missing my dietary regimen when I get back home. I better learn the fine art of pastry making awfully quick in order to keep up my pie fix. With that little bit of commerce out of the way, I was free to ride on out and up from Geraldine. Yup, today was a pretty much full day of uphill, but you’ll notice my total gain was under 500m! Thankfully, it was a long steady climb all day. When the winds were good, I had no problem maintaining a speed of 24km/hr uphill. How nice is that? I would almost have to call the day flat, which is a rarity. To me, hills mean up and down now, but steady uphill is just a flat day on a slope. Easy-peasy. Couple more days like this, and I’ll be doneroo, apart from a few little rides I’ll do from the train. Tomorrow will be the last challenge of any sort, with a gorge on my route. I plan to do some hiking there as well, so the day will probably be long, but worth it.

So, what about today? Just what did it have in store for me? Well, not a whole heck of a lot. The sun was out, but the air was still pretty cool, forcing me to yet again leave the gloves and arm warmers on. The scenery was, you guessed it, rural farmland. New Zealand truly does have a lot of this stuff you know. Sheep, cows, deer, and this time, for some excitement, a buck with a huge rack of antlers that I couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures of. He might have been an elk come to think of it. I dunno, either way, it was something a little different to talk to on the road. There were almost no historical places along the way either. I did stop at one spot where there were some wire-framed sculptures of Moas, along with the story of moas, which is an extinct bird. There was also a roadside stop where there was a story of a Maori tree called the Singletree, famous throughout Europe eons ago, but that was about it.

There were some nice hills of course to look at, but sadly, the views of Mt Hutt, the main reason to come up this way, were non-existent due to smoke in the air from some fires somewhere around the area. That leads me to Methven. I took some back road to get into town (Pudding Hill Road), and on the way in, passed some amazing houses, huge, new, and expensive looking. In talking to the hostel owner here, it turns out a lot of these are the houses that farmers build when they retire. Apparently they live fairly frugal lives on the farms, but at retirement like to buy big houses. I also learned that Methven is the second fastest growing area in the South Island after Queenstown! Crazy. The main reason is the proximity to some great skiing, hiking, etc. etc, and the fact that it is a bit more remote maybe than Queenstown. It certainly doesn’t feel like a big place, but you get a vibe similar to Banff I guess. It’s not that size yet, but I would suspect if it continues to grow, that’s how it may develop.

The good news is, there is lots of accommodations, and they want your business. Take the Kowhai House, where I am staying for example. I paid 25, which is standard in Methven, but I get free breakfast, satellite TV, broadband internet (no uploading, although I bypassed by connecting direct to the modem – but somehow my flickr uploadr can’t get my full pics up, boo), free towel, and use of an outdoor spa. Pretty awesome for a cyclist just breezing through. I managed to get all my posts and maps put up in the meantime, but sadly, the bulk of the pictures will still have to wait. Sorry.

My next adventure will be venturing into town to find some supper, and get some extra breakfast food, then settling into the hot tub with my giant beer and a snack probably. After that, perhaps some television. After all, it’s not even 5pm yet, and I’m pretty much done all my ‘chores’ for the day. Tomorrow, I’ll probably stay in a place called Darfield, as it’s only 48km from there to Christchurch. I’m already looking forward to getting there, and moving onto the next part of my trip. Till then, hope you’re all well, and I’ll see you all in a little bit!

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