February 2, 2002 - The First Ride to Windward

I couldn't wait to get out of Jack's and left around 8:30am. The intended destination was Pedallers Rest Cycle Stop at the Ure River, about half way to Kaikoura...didn't make it. Only two days of cycling and it was the first "What the heck am I doing this for?" day.

It started out quite nicely, with a blue sky and no wind. The first 10K were flat, through fields and vineyards. I stopped to take a picture at the Montana winery, which, with the hills in the background, looked just like it would belong in Napa Valley. At about 10km the hills started.

The first one was 6.5km up and it was considerably harder than yesterday. I had to stop 5 or 6 times. Towards the top I was stopping every 500 meters to catch my breath and rest my legs. I would have never been able to make with my old gearing, that big ring is saving me. Once I came over the crest, the wind hit, big time. It was blowing at least 30kts. There were times when I was pedaling down hills to keep from slowing down. On the flats, I was traveling in my next to lowest gear, directly to windward. It was so windy that I almost didn't mind the double trailer trucks going by since they provided a wind shadow for a couple of seconds.

The wind was so strong that I had to use the low gear on almost all upward grades. It became increasing harder to do, since I had to pedal pretty quickly just to keep the bike balanced and as I got tired, I couldn't keep up the cadence very long. After crossing the Awatere River on a double decked, but single lane bridge, I got to the next town, Seddon, at 25km out, it was obvious that I wasn't going to make it to the Pedaller's Rest, which was 29km from Seddon.

I stopped at a little cafe, where they were very nice (almost everyone has been super friendly) for a cup of tea (with lots of sugar). They had a small poster for a Farm Stay inviting cyclists. So I headed off there. It was, unfortunately, 10km further up the road to windward, with a couple of hills thrown in for extra pleasure, but I made it. I do think that I hit my windiest spot in this part though. I came into a cut where I swear it was blowing 50.

The Clifford Bay Farm Stay is a whole lot nicer than Jack's. It is near the shore of Lake Grassmere, which seems to be an really shallow estuary, since they have a salt works on the lake. (I took a picture of the drying ponds near the highway, which are pink.) The farmer's name is Pete Davison. He's about 60 and raises sheep for stud. They are a South African breed and Pete seems to have brought them into New Zealand. Strangely, to me at least, they shed their wool, which Pete said isn't very good wool, anyway. They are good for meat though.

I'm the only guest. He only gets a couple of guests a week and has both a double bedroom as a bed & breakfast and a four bunk dorm room (which I'm staying in). For NZ$15 a night, I even get free-range eggs for breakfast(I must take only the large ones, since they are too big to fit in the egg crates) and he even fed me dinner as I was the only guest. I'd recommend it.

Updated: 20 March 2002