Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Goodbye South Island, goodbye bike

I thought the last 150km to Christchurch would be easy. Not so: headwinds, crosswinds, three truck near-misses, rain, and Christchurch's large size made them actually quite hairy.
Two days ago, I made it 80km from Arthur's Pass to a small town called Springfield. Nice Alpine climate and scenery, lots of hills and wind. A few folks I met invited me in for tea. Yesterday, I went another 80km to the Fosters' place in Sumner, on the far side of Christchurch, through occasional rain. And today, I biked 30km across Christchurch to return the bike. This city sprawls a bit.
In total, 660km (390mi) over 9 biking days + 3 rest days. Some days, I felt like I could do 50 miles more, but most days I was sore and tired. I feel kind of the same as I do about hiking: it's got many good sides, and the right people make it all the better; but it's still an endurance sport, and it's hard to get excited about doing something that will be mostly crummy. Still, I'll probably end up doing it again occasionally.
Going north as we speak: tonight to Picton, tomorrow to Wellington. And then we'll see what happens.

EDIT: some stats, for future reference:
Feb 4: 60km, 2pm-~7
Feb 5: 78km, 12:30-6:20
Feb 6: rest
Feb 7: 56km, 10am-1:30
Feb 8: 83km, 9:30am-... 4?
Feb 9: 80km, 10:30-4
Feb 10: rest
Feb 11: 102km, 10am-6:30pm
Feb 12: rest
Feb 13: 82km, 10:15-6:55
Feb 14: 79km, 11:15-5:15
Feb 15: 29km, 12:00-1:45


  1. Goodonya mate. 43 miles a day is good work. Are you glad to have biked; did you see more than you would have otherwise? Don't like to hear about the three truck near misses. Do you think they could see you, or were they just aggressive kiwis?
    Enjoy the north island; we'll be anxious to hear about it.

  2. Did I see more than otherwise? Yeah. Good scenery and stuff, and a couple good stops talking to folks. And it was nice to feel like every day I had a challenge, and that challenge wasn't just to see things.
    Yeah, truck drivers were just crazy kiwis. And 99% of drivers were great. It's just a thing you get used to, I think. No worse than driving.
    I'll keep you posted on the north. I might actually slow down a bit though!

  3. How are you traveling? Are where are you staying? Take some pictures if you can. Thanks!

  4. Bus to Picton, ferry to Wellington, and then who knows. I'm couchsurfing in Wellington now, and otherwise will be either surfing or staying at hostels. I don't think I'll be blogging that sort of thing anymore because it's not that interesting here in NZ. One hostel is more or less the same as the next, and one bus is exactly the same as the next.

    Okay, I take that back, now that you mention it.
    - Waipara Sleepers was made out of old train cars, so you'd go outside to get to the kitchen or bathroom and it was a little cramped, but atmospheric.
    - Hanmer Backpackers might have been my favorite; it had a nice alpine-house atmosphere and free ice cream.
    - I spent the next night at the Boyle Outdoor School- they don't actually run a hostel but they have a little cottage they rent to hikers sometimes and since only 3 other people were using it, they let me stay there. A little ramshackle, and out in the middle of nowhere, but clean and uncrowded.
    - Reefton Backpackers felt like someone's old house, mid-20th-century ranch house style, but the owner was super friendly.
    - Noah's Ark Backpackers in Greymouth was in a big old pretty building, each room was themed after an animal, and they had all the essentials covered, but it was quite big and so many people coming and going. My thoughts might have been clouded because I spent a bunch of time running errands in Greymouth.
    - Arthur's Pass YHA hostel was clean and efficient.
    - Springfield YHA was homey, in both good ways (fireplace) and bad (bad lighting, drafty bathroom), and was run by a Dutch-Japanese couple so that was neat.
    - the one in Picton was called "Juggler's Rest", run by, indeed, a juggler. They had props we could borrow to play with. Otherwise, very homey and nice, and she made fresh bread for breakfast.
    So I guess these places are quite interesting. For some reason, it doesn't really appear on my radar. Maybe I feel like I shouldn't be paying attention to them, like if I pay attention to my hostel I'll miss all the world outside.

    And pictures? I don't take enough pictures of world wonders, let alone hostels :) Seriously, though, I'm not staying many more places, I don't think, but I'll try to remember, if I do.

    1. Sign me up for a stay at Hanmer Backpackers. Free ice cream??? A Jill

  5. I hope that you wowed them with some juggling at Juggler's Rest. And you didn't get tossed out for juggling any oranges.

  6. Hey, that sounds fascinating....Thanks for recalling them all.