Saturday, November 05, 2011

On yer bike!

Last month's exciting episode had me finishing a job and driving the Herald back to Brisbane. I negotiated a few weeks break before starting my next job, as some friends had invited me on a re-re-re-cycle of the Otago Rail Trail, back in New Zealand. It was my fourth time on the Trail in about ten years - yes, it really is that good!

 I won't dissect the Trail - there are plenty of websites that explain its history and what cyclists face on each section. Instead, I'll tell you why I like it - stunning, ever-changing scenery rolling by, a nice easy trail to ride on, spectacular views from places away from any road access. Silence, apart from the crunch of gravel under your tyres. The smell of wild thyme on sunny hillsides, humming with bees. Great places to stop for an emergency ice cream or beer. Soft beds and big dinners. And best of all, the banter of friends comparing their favourite parts of that day's ride.

The drive south from Christchurch was split into two days so that we could stop at Lake Tekapo. A southerly storm the day before had dumped snow right down to the lake shore. 

My new mountain bike. My old bike is now in Brisbane, so I bought another. Chances are, it'll be back to Otago before too long.

Wild thyme, smelling divine.

The Manuherikia Viaduct, ageing gracefully.

Emergency snack attack!

The Poolburn Viaduct.

This good shed was the subject of a famous painting by local artist Grahame Sydney. When the rail line closed it was relocated, but it was eventually returned to Wedderburn. No Rail Trail is complete without a photo of the green shed.

Generations of travellers on the rail line threw apple cores out the carriage window, and now the track is lined with numerous apple trees. 

Schist, a rock once baked and twisted kilometres beneath the earth's surface, meets ice clouds twisting kilometres up in a cold Spring sky. 

The shape of the landscape causes this lenticular cloud, known as the Taieri Pet. 


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