February 9, 2002 - Finally, A Fine Day (But Tiring

I've made it to Christchurch.

It was a slow start today. I think it was because I didn't have enough blankets overnight and woke up cold. It's pretty cool on the plains in the night. It seemed to take me forever to come alive and get breakfast together.

It was finally sunny and the breeze was blowing in the right direction when I left near 10am. The first forty kilometers or so when by pretty quickly. My max speed, according to the cyclocomputer was 42.5kph, and there wern't any hills to speak of. Traffic increased steadily all the way to Christchuch. Once I got off the main highway, about 20km out, it became pretty tiring. It was the old road into Christchurch, replaced by a motorway. It still had lots of traffic and was not in as good shape as the main road. Since there was so much traffic, I had to stay on the paved shoulder, which was pretty bumpy. It was just very tiring.

The nice break in the ride in was stopping at an orchard-side fruit stand. They had a huge assortment of their own fresh fruits in season--several varieties of apples and plums, couple of types of peaches, pears and citrus fruits. I looking for something sweet and the peaches looked pretty ripe. I went to buy one and the owner wouldn't let me pay for it. It was perfectly ripe and sweet. there were dozens of fruit and vegetable stands along that section of the route; it must have been a market gardening area. I wonder how many times I could have stopped for free fruit?

The ride was quite uneventful. I didn't really notice much, probably because of the traffic. I'd called ahead to find a place to stay in Christchurch from the pay phone in Waipara. I had to call five places before I found one that had a bed for tonight. They wanted me to call back in an hour to confirm, so I stopped at a cafe about an hour later to find out if there was a nearby pay phone. There wasn't one, but they offered to let me use their phone, which was very nice.

While I was calling, I noticed their pastries. They had some really scrumptious looking tarts and cake and some really interesting muffins. Being that it was after 11, I broke down and had a savoury scone, which was delicious. It wasn't really dense, but wasn't bread-like. It had green onions and red and orange peppers in it along with some cheese and herbs and it came with a little salad with some spicy greens and cucumbers. Along with a cappuccino, it was a great lunch.

After arriving in Christchuch I wandered around a bit in the afternoon. The downtown area, near the cathedral has some new buildings and has been spruced up a bit since I was here five years ago. A lot more people than I remember. They still close the stores early on Saturdays in Christchurch, so most of the shops, except the really touristy ones were closed.

I had my first sour encounter of the trip while I was downtown. It wasn't a Kiwi though, but some Eastern European immigrant. I wasn't sure if I could connect to the Internet at the hostel, so I stopped at an Internet place