19 December 2009

NEW ZEALAND 18th,19th December: failure to reach the mountains

The first photo is of my rainforest camp at OKUKU, this being the worst place I have ever camped. Finding flat ground in the mountains is difficult and this made for an uncomfortable night. The second photo is the high country near Craigburn just before the Arthur's Pass descent of 16% gradient. Life wasn't meant to be easy. After leaving Christchurch I had to endure warmth, sunburn and 75 kilometres of mostly headwinds, which were forecast to reach 130 kmh but fortunately it was only half this in brief gusts. My cruising speed was about twenty five but dived to about seven when the wind became unkind. After hours of traversing cereal cropping land I arrived at Springfield. The town has a great campground at six dollars a night and myself and two Australian tourers spent the evening in the local pub eating good food and sharing travel stories. The following day it rained and the first of the mountain passes to Arthurs pass were difficult, with ten metre visibility. I can say that i did my best. Failure is lack of attempt but to be honest this was beyond my physical ability. Every twenty pedals I was stopping and resting. "Half" way up I turned back and headed back to the city, which was 112 km away. And guess what? No rain but another headwind. Arriving back in Christchurch the SOUTHERN BLUES CLUB at 198 Madras street starting piping along at midnight and after 3 Jd's with an Australian musician John (from the band Three Legged Dog) I went back to the "SO" and fell into narcolepsy.

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