Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 9: Alexandra to Ranfurly. Otago Central Rail Trail day 1

The day started out early enough. We were packed by 8:30, but after breakfast of Birchers yogurt AND 3 eggs made in the shared kitchen, and the very friendly conversation of our chatty host, it was 10:30 by the time we said our goodbyes to Marj and the other sweetheart Barb staying in the home stay.


We stopped at a local bike shop, Rock and Ride, to buy a $12 tube (!) and inquire about an Internet cafe. If there is one thing New Zealand lacks, it is coffee shops with wifi, or even Internet. But at Rock and Ride, They were nice enough to let us use their wifi and make Drew a coffee in their espresso machine!


It took us until almost noon to post those last two blog posts and do some personal business. That was a much later start than we wanted, and our goal was 80+ km down the Trail. Best get started.

Once we cleared the town riders, we had the trail almost to ourselves. The terrain and climate had changed radically from the start of yesterday's ride. This area reminded me a lot of parts of Utah or central Montana. Quite dry, low mountain ranges separated by valleys, lots of ranching and farming.




Lots and lots of sheep ranching.


It was 2:30 before we took a break at the lovely Louder Station Cafe in tiny Louder.


We had our usual date scone and flat whites, and got a cheese scone to go, which we took directly across to a picnic table and chowwed with some leftover salami and cheese.


The next part of the trail was the most interesting.


We passed through two really cool tunnels. These we constructed around 1900 without power tools.


Even though we were on a rail trail, there was about 500 meters of climbing today,

as we rode our way between mountains and valleys.


It was 4:30 in the afternoon, it was hot, and we still had 16 km to ride. I needed a break, so we stopped at the Oturehua General Merchantile, New Zealand's oldest continuously operating store. Apparently they we trying to pay the back taxes, because my Coke was $3.90!



Onward, to cross the 45th south line of latitude.


and finally to the trail's highest point!


It should have been smooth sailing downhill to Ranfurly, where we would stop for the night, but in true Jordan fashion, a mightily headwind sprung up.

it was all I could do to take a short turn at the front now and then while my big wind break rode most of the way in front.


We were toast by the time we drifted in to the Ranfurly Holiday Park. Holiday Parks are similar to our KOA campgrounds in the U.S.


Being that the weather was warm and dry and it was our last night out on the bikes, we had planned to camp, but that wind took it out of us, and we opted for a cozy cabin for $40.


Problem was, when we got up close, the cozy cabin was not nearly the honeymoon suite we had thought.


No bother, the bar and restaurant we just a short walk away.


So we ended the night with pitchers of beer and the New Zealand version of a hamburger. They need to work on their ketchup.



Stats today: 4:50 on the bike over about 6.5 hours. Avg speed 17.6 kph. 85.4 km, our longest day yet!


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