Christchurch - Westport (367kms)

Trip Start Aug 23, 2012
Trip End Aug 20, 2013

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Saturday, February 16, 2013

Christchurch – Rangiora – Hurunui – Hanmer Springs – Deer Valley – Reefton – Westport = 367km

Kitted out with $476.00NZD worth of padded cycle shorts (for those interested, $476 buys you 4 pairs of cycle shorts) and two ridiculous bike helmets (purchased for the sole purpose of making biking fun), we set off to collect our bikes and hit the road. Normally, I try not to have any expectations of things we see / do beforehand and this generally has worked in my favor, however, in this instance, a bit of mental preparation would not have gone amiss. I knew we would be carrying a tent, our sleeping bags, all of our camping equipment, clothing and food with us on the bikes but I didn't put much thought into how heavy that would actually make our bikes - whilst packing his pannier bags, Daryn’s biked tipped over and broke the bike-stand. Nice. With what only can be described as sheer terror, Daryn and I set off out of Christchurch on very heavy bikes.

Once moving though, we discovered things weren’t actually too bad; unfortunately, following that discovery, we realized that we were cycling on flat / downhill roads. Luckily, as we headed north into the mountains the scenery took our minds off our sore legs. Our padded shorts were well worth the money and, as Daryn soon discovered, came with an added bonus – a 'pie-control panel’ which helps hold your belly in when you eat one of NZ’s famous 1500 calorie pies. The only downside (aside from the fact they look ridiculous) is that the padding is kind of like the material used in those foamy stress-balls that you squeeze when you’re stressed (which can be somewhat addicting) – the problem being that squeezing a stress ball is socially acceptable whilst squeezing the bum padding in your shorts is not.

On Day 5 (3 days of cycling + 1 rest day) we set off over the Lewis Pass – the road crossing the mountain range from the East Coast to the West Coast: 68kms – all uphill. Mother Nature must have had a bone to pick with us as she threw in very hot weather and strong headwinds  – I doubt there is much in life that is more soul-destroying than having to pedal to go downhill thanks to the wind. As we climbed one particularly steep hill, Daryn remarked that pushing his bike (complete with the loaded trailer) up the hill was much like dragging a dead body up a hill; we soon agreed that the 8-week preparation program for cycling through New Zealand wouldn’t have been a bad idea after all. About 5 hours in, I staged a protest on the side of the road and tried to work out how we could re-load daryn’s bike so that I could ride in the trailer instead of having to bike; my protest did not last long though, mainly because it was at this time that I discovered that my helmet is a glowing beacon for all of New Zealand’s bees - there are millions of them and they all love my helmet; if I were allergic to bees I’d be dead by now.

8 hours after we set off– with less than a total of 1 hour worth of breaks - we finally arrived at our facility-less campsite where we were promptly eaten alive by sand-flies, which, infuriatingly, bees do not eat! I hate you Mother Nature! After a freezing wash in the stream and eating about 5 portions worth of couscous & potatoes each, we fell asleep by 7pm. Without sounding too dramatic, it was one of the physically hardest days of our lives. It’s funny now, but that’s only because I’m able to block out the fact that eventually we have to cross back over to the East Coast.

So far, the scenery has been amazing and the people are the friendliest we’ve ever come across – a lot of people want to know about our trip, then promptly deem us crazy. Though narrow and winding, the roads generally feel safe and motorists often honk or give a wave of encouragement, or at least that’s how we see it, they’re probably trying to tell us to get off the road. Sorry for the lack of pictures – we were a bit preoccupied with not crashing our bikes and eating pies – more next time.

Hope everyone is well :)

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mom on

Hard work makes for healthy, strong bodies. Keep on bikin'

evelyn on

well you are on the way again, try a motor bike, it will be much easier the wheather looks good are you having fun? poor Jana how you must suffer.

Koy on

I have sheer admiration for your guys. Keep it up!!! Besides, it better that going into work on cold grey day :)

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