|This plus sheep is the scenery we passed.|
Yesterday, we got the bikes. We needed to tell the bike company where to pick us up, but with no phone, we are internet dependent. We set them an email Monday evening asking to be picked up at 10am. We figured that would be enough time to come into work and then come get us. We checked for confirmation at 9:30. We had to walk a little ways for the internet, which meant we were late getting back. Once we were loaded into the van, the driver took us on a short tour of downtown Chirstchurch.
Tangent: Christchurch is not the Christchurch you see on postcards. The Catholic Cathedral is so much nicely carved ruins. They are deconstructing the whole thing piece by piece and labeling each piece with the intention that once the whole thing is down, they are going to rebuild it. Some very smart person thought to prop up the building immediately after the earthquake. That very smart person used containers, like the kind you use for shipping, and hay bales to keep from damaging the stone further. Slick. Also, during the earthquake, the statue of the Virgin Mary that had sat in the balcony and overlooked the church turned 180 degrees. It was completely unharmed but now faces out a window, watching over the city.
Back to the bikes. By the time we got our stuff transferred over to the panniers and everything adjusted, it was after 12. We’d figured on being on the road by 11. We made a few stops in town for things like stamps and snacks. We didn’t get to the Great South Road until more like 1pm. We were planning on about 50 miles yesterday. We didn’t make it.
|Ashburton is the bottom left corner. We made it to Rakaia (left of center) from the south east corner of Christchurch. We’ll know this stretch of highway 1 pretty well before this trip is over.|
We were aiming to get to Ashburton last night. We left from the southeast corner of downtown Christchurch. At 4 pm, we were in Burnham. We thought to turn off and go down to the coast where there was some campsites. Another biker found us on the road and recommend we just dash for Rakaia River Holiday Park. We took his advice, despite burning legs and aching all over.
We figured if we found a motel somewhere along the way, we’d just stop for the night. Half an hour later, we found a B&B, but it was out of our price range by about threefold. We continued down the road, painful legs, exhaustion and an imminent sunset not withstanding. We got about five minutes before Jason blew a flat.
I got the flat fixed in twenty minutes. Lucky for us, the rental company included three extra tubes, tools to fix a flat, a bike multitool, spare brakes and a bunch of bungee cords in the rental. We had a debate, go back to the B&B and overspend by a lot or try to make it to Rakaia River. We put on reflective vests and made a dash for it. The sunsets here take longer than they do on the island. We used every spare minute.
|You can just see the mountains in the center of the sunset.|
The sun set and we were still on the road. It was a lovely sunset but one I’d rather have enjoyed with the tent set up and off of the bike seat. When we lost the sun behind the mountains, the fog came up. At that point, we were biking in the dark and the fog on the shoulder of a highway. We stopped to put a blinky light on my collar, since we only had one between the two of us and I was in the back.
Around 7 pm, we found the Rakaia River bridge. There is no shoulder, no passing lane and it is 2 kilometers long. That’s about a mile. We’d been warned it was a bad bridge, but now it was dark and foggy. It had become a terrible bridge.
I think that was the fastest mile we biked the entire six hours we were in motion. We got passed by a number of cars and each time I was grateful for the blinky light on m collar. We had a couple people honk, which I would like to point out does nothing. I promise, I was more scared than any of them. About two-thirds of the way across, we got lucky. A semi driver fell in behind us and seemed to be in no hurry. We was happy to hang out and block traffic.
The road opened up to the 1-2 meter shoulder we’d had all day and he moved on. We saw the Rakaia River Holiday Camp sign in his headlights as he passed us.
We checked in at 7:30, half an hour before check-in closed. We made instant food from a bag for dinner and hid in the heated kitchen until the adrenaline was out of our systems, then we went to bed.
Rakaia River is still about 25 kilometers from Ashburton, where we’d intended to go. We’ve had to re-adjust our travel plans.