|South Island Road Trip|
|Bannockburn / Alexandra|
|Otago Rail Trail|
|Mt Cook - Hanmer|
|Hanmer part 2|
|End of the trip|
The second day was fine - a fresh dusting of snow was on the tops, cold and clear. I warmed up with a couple of tracks in the forest, then pedaled out of town on the Jacks Pass road, turning at the ski field sign and heading uphill.
After a minute or two I was in the small chain ring and approaching granny gear fast. I figured I'd have a better chance of 'twiddling' my way to the top slowly than rushing up there in a harder gear.
As I twiddled uphill I was passed by a bit of traffic - a panting jogger and a car load of tourists. I met the tourists again when they were executing a 37 point turn trying to turn around and head back. Ha! Fools! The pass was just around the next turn and up a bit! I also decided I'd have a go at planting some larch on the family farm in Auckland - I loved the 'random' colouring larch gave the hillsides.
At the top I debated turning around and ripping downhill back to Hanmer, but a little voice inside my head suggested going ahead and riding down to the Molesworth. I had all my warm gear on and was still freezing which was my main concern. Alongside the road the water was frozen in the drains and this Aucklander was easily amused by trying to toss larger and larger stones onto the ice without breaking through.
I was blown away with the views as I reached the Clarence River - it was just ... fantastic... words don't really do such a place justice
Who would not be tempted to pedal off into the distance here?
I continued along the road for around 10km until it reached the turnoff back to Hanmer over the Jollies Pass. I rode up to the pass (it was really easy, hardly uphill at all). I got to the top and thought--bugger it. I turned around and rode back down to the Clarence River and rode the road back almost as far as the Jacks Pass turnoff. It was just an awesome place to be and I had no reason to rush and leave it.
I found a nice hillside in the sun and sat and ate lunch. I doubt there was a happier person in New Zealand at that time! I ended up spending a couple of hours in the valley enyoying the views and serenity before pointing the bike back towards Jollies Pass.
The downhill road from Jollies was a ripper - I was in one of those 'grooves' where everything went right, the bike sliding around and skipping under hard braking, but never getting near tipping me off. Between Jollies Pass rd and the campground was a forest riddled with tracks - I made the most of them in the afternoon until the light faded.
The tracks would be best described as beginner level tracks, but they flowed well and what really did it for me were the autumn colours in the many different species of trees that were planted there. The riding surface was a real mixture as well - it ranged from hardpacked gravel through soft leaf litter through mud. After spending alot of time riding in my local Riverhead forest back home, I was surprised that the puddles had bottoms and were ridable without sinking up to the hubs
I came upon some classic 'European' style forest views - I'm sure I had picture books as a kid with such images!