I struggled to wake up again this morning... a fact demonstrated by the squeezing onto my toothbrush... of Bepanthen!!!
Fortunately noticing before applying it to my teeth... I cleaned it off and applied toothpaste instead. It didnt have its usual minty taste.
Not a great start... things were looking up with breakfast (thanks bev) and the news that she had contacted a friend who was a reporter for the Wanaka Times... who wanted to meet me and write an article for the paper. It was arranged for the morning on my way to first Cromwell... then through the gorge to the outskirts of Queenstown. All on SH6... this road that had been with me since Greymouth would carry me all the way to Bluff.
Bev assured me that it was pretty flat from here to Wanaka (definately the kiwi version of flat Bev!!!! ) and the plan was to get there by 08:15.. but on setting off and climbing the hills as they appeared.. my legs werent in the game this morning and Wanaka town would be a detour too far off route... so I phoned Nicky.. the reporter and she suggested we meet at Puzzletown cafe! A wierd place with lopsided buildings and a backwards clock amongst other things. The article will be out after the ride but still hopefully raise awareness...
That done... the road to Cromwell was calling... and what a beautiful road.! Yes some climbs... it is New Zealand... but all managable... mountains behind and to the sides ... visable across fields burnt golden by the sun.. which was making an appearance every now and again!! I may also have been lucky enough to have a bit of a tailwind at times but was careful not to say it out loud in case the cycling gods realised their grievous error.
There was a lot of thinking done on this stretch... careful not to think too much about arriving in Bluff (stuff can still go wrong) I looked back over the last few weeks which simultaneously have gone by in a flash and also seem like forever ago. In fact .. this morning seems like a long time ago.. never mind the moment when I put my feet in the pedals for the first time here. There are many many highlights ... although it may seem like I moan a lot in my blog... I have already forgotten the pain of the first few days and difficulty breathing and remember instead the lovely sunshine... the rainforest... the golden sandy beaches (still remember the sand flies in Oppononi though) and the people I met along the way... many who left a lasting impression on this journey and some who went above and beyond to keep this cyclists legs turning round!!
Also whilst I remember... have had many enquiries about the state of my hands. Last time after Route 66 .. I couldnt hold a knife and fork... couldnt do up buttons and generally had claws for hands. Im pleased to report that this time hands seem better (the last 2 days notwithstanding). I did get some major hand cramps after kayaking... but they were wet and cold and had been gripping the paddle for a while. The palm of my hand is a bit numb but the fingers seem to be working still. Fingers crossed (pun only half intended) that they continue to be as good!!
So the road to Cromwell went on... I have been told that I have taken the easy way as there was a 'shortcut' from Wanaka to Queenstown but it happens to go over the Crown Range and I for one am incredibly glad I inadvertently chose to go The Long Way Round.
I reached Cromwell in good time ... by 12:00 and found a cafe to shove even more calories down. Just by the cafe... The Large Plastic Fruit!! Had to take a photo to add to my collection of Giant things lol.
The last few miles into Cromwell had been dogged by a bit of a headwind and now as I turned to go through the gorge leading to Queenstown... it became a full throttle headwind... complete wirh some spots of rain though that held off for a bit. The headwind abated a little allowing me to negotiate the rises and dips of the gorge with little trouble. Nothing major at present I did have the feeling that it was working up to a creshendo...
In the meantime I stared at the turquoise River below as it gouged its way through. This area had had mines in .. as has much of the Otago region...(a fact I learnt from reading a book about cycling the Otago rail trail)... and because I had been forewarned I stared intently at the scarred and broken hillside... and sure enough .. once the eye was in... you could pick out remainders of miners huts dotted about the hillside.
The beautiful blue river was at times calm and tranquil and at other times crashing and fierce but the road continued beside it and above it. Some steeper climbs were starting to test my legs and in particular the one I hoped would be the signal for the road to turn downhill. Granny gears to the fore... I tapped up it and once at the top saw a lady climb away from her camper van and over the barrier...
Don't Do It!!!
I did actually shout that... but with a smile on my face and the lady turned round... camera in hand and said 'no thats further up the road' ( Turns out it actually was... as the famous bungee jumping bridge is located in this gorge!)
Andrea and Ian were from West Sussex in the Uk and were driving to Cromwell to visit friends on their vineyard. Thank you for giving me a smile and lovely to meet you. I hope you have a safe journey home... who knows we may meet in Chiangi Airport!!!
Then the road started downhill a bit but the headwind had kicked up to vicious proportions and was either straight on or mixed with a sidewind. So bad... I was crawling along on the flat around 4-6mph if not less at times when gusts bought me to a standstill. Downhill bits were becoming dangerous... narrow road and a gusting head/sidewind make for difficult bike handling... then ... yup... you've guessed it... the Raindown began. Intense enough for me not to wait the usual 5 minutes... I whipped out my rainjacket and prepared to get very wet.
This stretch was about 15-20 miles and should have been done (including climbs and photos in 2 hours max... it took almost double that in the end... such was the strength of the wind.
Soaking wet once again... I struggled onward waiting for the point thaf the road turned... 7 miles away. Every inch of ground gained was a struggle. I did stop for more calories... sat down by the roadside when three mountainbikers came wooshing past (with a tailwind) on the Queenstown dirt trail that runs next to the road. The third guy... slowed up and asked if I was alright... nice... but it did make me smile... having come over 1400 miles ... is all i was doing was eating... though he would have got a different answer yesterday morning!!
The road turned slightly... after 7-8 very hard fought miles and with the rain still beating down... I picked up a bit of speed... no longer straining to overcome the headwind...
I did shout above the noise of the wind/rain and cars...
Let it Raindown... cos Im nearly fcuking there!!
And boy did that feel good.
Entered Frankton.. on the road skirting Queenstown... past the full motor camp... past the no vacancy bandb and out of Frankton... plan b then. Up a steep hill to Peninsula Road and the Hilton hotel complex... my last avenue before having to cycle another 20 miles.
I rolled up to the grand entrance... literally dripping wet and went in. Only one room left
.. double apartment style $530... hmmmmm Tempting!!
I begged for a discount... explained what I was doing and how far id come... the manager went away to ask his boss and came back with an offer...$279... done deal thank you! So thats how I find myself in the very swish apartment with balcony and resplendent with sofas..
Makes me laugh though cos it makes bugger all difference to me ... long as I have a bed and electrical sockets... im good anywhere!
I also managed to Periscope this evening so if you didnt catch it live... it will still be available for a little while at www.periscope.tv/OneChallengeAtATime and you can access by clicking the link above.
I still have 2 days to go... tomorrow to Winton... 96 ish miles... reasonably flat which leaves 40 miles for my last morning to Bluff... where Lorraine will be waiting for the transfer to Dunedin for the gig (massive thanks to Doug and Andy at Auden Guitars!!!).
Im raising money for Love Hope Strength Foundation and have battered my body and mind into submission in order to be worthy of your sponsorship... if you havent already and feel that you can... please visit www.justgiving.com/GoWithTheCrazy and help me to the 'End of The World'