Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Cycling NZ - Bluff! The circle is closed

I made it! I finally arrived to Bluff and cycled through the whole South Island, yes! Yes yes yes!!! The circle is finally complete!

Sorry for skipping several weeks worth of cycling and jumping right to this point, but I couldn't wait to blog about it. The rest will come later. Right now I'm totally excited, it's been almost two months since I set off on my cycling trip and today, after many great efforts, I have finally achieved my goal! It's been an amazing adventure, and guess what, it's far from over. Not just because I have to get back north somehow, but also because I still haven't fulfilled the promise to myself - to cycle at least one kilometre for each dollar spent on the bike. The bike with all bits and pieces cost me just over 1900 NZD, and today I've clocked 1536km. Dunedin is about 400 from here...

Friday, 25 November 2011

Cycling NZ - Go Japanese in Lake Tekapo

Day 10 - Sunday 6 Nov 2011
Distance Ridden:
85km; Route: Geraldine - Pleasant Point - SH8 -> Kimbell; Weather: sunny, warm; Terrain: flattish with a few small climbs.

I met other bikers for the first time. Apart from Neil, the overloaded Taiwanese guy, I also met an Australian cyclist on a stroll from Christchurch to Twizel. It makes one feel better to know he ain't the only crazy out there. Neil and I had the same route, but he was too slow and I decided to proceed alone shortly after leaving Geraldine. As per the i-Site staff's advice, I took a longer, but nicer route through some country roads, with a landscape that reminded me a lot of the place I come from - Podkrkonoší - in the eastern part of the Czech Republic. It was a pleasant, traffic-free ride over a few lovely rolling hills, surrounded by huge green pastures and a line of peaks at the horizon.

Talking about green, I ran into a military convoy right in the middle of Fairlie (soldiers with rifles, armed vehicles and all that). Should have asked them for a ride, but bright ideas don't always come at the right time. At least one of them saluted when I was taking a picture; shame it came out all blurry. I saw lots of other military vehicles over the following days, probably due to the military base in the area.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Cycling NZ - Central Canterbury (Scenic Route 72) - Windy hardships and moody talks

The conqueror of Burke's Pass (709m).
This was one of the hardest parts of my trip so far, but also the one when I really started enjoying it. Be advised: strong language contained in this post.

Day 8 - Friday 4 Nov 2011
Distance ridden: 74km; Route: Christchurch (Bealey Ave -> Riccarton) - Old West Coast Road - Homebush - Scenic Route 72 - 15km before Rakaia Gorge; Weather: extreme westerly headwind.

After idling in Christchurch for almost three weeks I finally forced myself to get back on the road. And learned a lesson: never stop travelling or you might not want to start again. Not even if the reason for stopping is KFC (thanks for lunch Taylor) and rafting. Rafting is amazing by the way. Of course it wouldn't be me if I hadn't picked the worst possible weather for jumping back on the saddle.

When the wind blows, cycling sucks
To say that it was very windy would be an understatement. My first encounter with antagonistic wind was just a light breeze compared to what I was up against this time...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Cycling NZ - St Arnaud - Murchison - Lewis Pass - Hanmer Springs

420 kilometres in five days. From extreme wind to extreme sunshine and back to extreme wind. That's how it goes when you're cycling in New Zealand.

Day 5 - Sunday 16 Oct 2011
Distance ridden:
100km; Route: St Arnaud - Murchison - SH65 40km past Murchison; Weather: perfect (sunny, warm, no wind).

The following two days were so far the best part of my trip. Perfect weather, almost no wind, stunning landscapes and roads flat enough to let me enjoy the surroundings instead of panting and praying for the hilly torture to end. I reached Murchison by lunchtime, had a juicy burger and after resisting the temptation of an inviting looking backpacker (it would have been a sin not to tent with that weather) I pushed on for another 40km, making it a total of a 100 that day.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Cycling NZ - Blenheim to Nelson Lakes

Click for more pics.
After two nights spent at the good ole' Grovetown Hotel, I set off for the next part of my cycling trip. I originally wanted to follow the State Highway 1 to Kaikoura and Christchurch, but luckily I realized in time how stupid an idea it was. The only reason why I wanted to go that way was my lack of information and confidence: instead of going towards the unknown, I wanted to get a bit fitter on a flat coastal road I already knew (although sections like Seddon, a windy steep bit teeming with trucks, really scared me). A flash of common sense struck me in time to change the plan and head west, towards the mountains.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Cycling New Zealand - How it began

I'm officially a long-distance cyclist! And I finally got the time to write about it!

My cycling adventure started on an early October morning in Nelson, the northernmost city of the South Island. but not before recovering from an exquisitely unpleasant hangover. Never go to a pirate party dressed as a software pirate.

The pedalling, however, started in Havelock, 70km from Nelson. There are two big hills between the towns and the only way to get through is a steep, windy road with no shoulder and always full of trucks. There was no way I was going to start my journey with suicide, so I took a bus.

If you're wondering why I decided to cycle around NZ, it's because I wanted to do something different than most travellers. No mainstream car/van solution for me.