February 7, 2002 - Lots of Hills (and wind and a little rain)

This was my second "what the heck am I doing this for?" day. I finally got up the gumption to do the four hills that were in my way. The total climb was 585 meters (about 1500 feet) according to the GPS. On top of that the wind was still coming out of the south, which made itself apparent whenever I'd get out on an open road. To make it more interesting, as I was nearing the top of the third, and steepest hill, my chain popped out of the sprockets. I put it back on and it did it again as I tried to pedal.

It turned out that one of the links had broken open on one side. So I had to take off the trailer and rear wheel, get my bag of tools out of the trailer bag and sit at the side of the road, with not much road shoulder, and try to put the chain back together. At least I thought to bring chain tool and my leatherman. I was able to straighten the bent link and push the stud back into it. I have not been really happy with the new chain I got just before leaving. It seems to be wearing my chainwheels rather quickly.

And just to make things complete, it rained towards the end of the ride, fortunately, just a sprinkle and I didn't get too wet.

While I was sitting on the road, fixing my chain, another cyclist rode up and stopped to offer help. He was from Halifax, NS and looked older than me, but had that lanky, wiry cyclist's body. He had left Kaikoura in the morning and caught up with me about 15 km into my ride, riding more than twice the distance in probably the same time. He was, however, carrying only two small panniers and a handlebar bag. I asked him how he was able to travel so lightly and he said that he just sent most of his stuff on to his next destination on the bus. He arrived in NZ on the same day as I did and had first cycled on the North Island down to the South Island. I was surprised that he had done it in a week. He hadn't. What he's been doing is taking the bus to someplace that he wants to start at, cycles to the next location and then gets another bus. He had taken the bus from Picton to Kaikoura and started his South Island trip there. I don't remember if he was heading to Cheviot, where I ended up today, or Waipara, where I hope to get to next, to catch the bus to Christchurch.

I rode through a high rolling plain for the last half of the ride and saw about a million sheep (only 39 million left to see). I also stopped to watch a hawk of some kind gliding along a ridge searching for lunch. During one of my rest stops, this entire herd of cattle came trotting over towards me. I took out my camera to take a picture of them, but as they got close, they were mostly hidden by some high brush between us, so there wasn't a photo after all.

I also stopped at a gas station in Parnassus, about 13km from, Cheviot, since I thought that they might have a small shop and I could get something hot to drink (did I mention that it was pretty chilly today, as well). They had some kind of coffee, soup and hot chocolate machine behind the counter, so I asked the mechanic, when he came in, if I could get a hot chocolate. He replied that he was sitting down to have so tea and would I like to join him. I did so. The people here have been so friendly. We talked a bit about the area. It has big farms, averaging around 30,000 acres, and lots of sheep. It has been a tough summer for the farmers with too much rain, keeping the grass too green (the sheep do better on dry grass) and ruining the crops like wheat. He said it was supposed to be sunny and in the 30's (about 85 fahrenheit) at this time of year. The folks that I am staying with this evening were saying that it rained so hard at some points that it was too loud on the roof to sleep and that the water was flowing down their street like a river.

When I left Oaro and paid the bill this morning, I was only charged $NZ50 since I paid in cash (that's about US$21 for two meals and a nice room and shower, not to mention good company). I'm staying at another B&B, Casa del Bosque, in Cheviot, this evening. It is run by a retired couple, Kay & Bryan Woods, who have moved down here from Auckland. He is originally from Wales, but met Kay here wiile in the British Navy and moved to New Zealand after retiring from the Navy for a second career as a civilian employee of the NZ Navy. They seem quite nice.

Their B&B is fair, but is in town as opposed to being in the country.The only other choices in Cheviot were two motels. This seemed a better option and is only NZ$35, but I do have go out for dinner. They also have a 24 year old black cat and a pudgy 8 year old golden retriever, Shan, who is, as most goldens, very friendly...and sheds. The big problem with this place is that I think that Brian occasionally smokes. He had a heart attack last April and is waiting for angiplasty, so I can't see why.

I had dinner at a little restaurant called The Paddock (there were only two choices in town). It was a pretty simple place and had a nice garden outside, although it was a bit cold for al fresco dining. You order by going to the bar and placing your order and choosing a table. I had a huge piece of quiche (cheese and red pepper), with a nice salad with good greens, carrots, tomatoes, onions and croutons and new potatoes with garlic butter. It was delicious. I couldn't resist and had the sticky date pudding for desert. It was the first time I'd eaten out since I took Mark & Marine to dinner. The whole thing came to NZ$20 (about $8.25)

As hard as the ride was, it was a day that turned out fine. The chat with the mechanic was interesting and I had a good meal. Now, if summer would only return.

Updated: 19 March 2002