February 25, 2002 - A Monday Meteorological Mistake

Meteorology in New Zealand has a lot to be desired. The forecast Monday morning was for light southwesterlies. By the afternoon I was pushing into the strongest winds since Kaikoura...and this time it was in the hills. The rolling hills were bad enough but it is the wind that really drains me. Every ten knots is at least a gear downshift and the rough road surface, which was frequent, adds another one, throw in a hill and I'm out of low gears in a hurry. I spent most of the day in the small chainring. Perhaps I should have stayed in Milton another day, but for how long will the wind go on. Many expletives deleted on this ride.

It was all up and down hill from about 5km out of Milton all the way through Clinton. I climbed over 1000 meters in total. It took me about two hours to go the first 14 km after Balclutha. You run faster than I was moving against the wind. I spent over five hours pedaling and almost 8 hours in total to get here.

The wind was so bad that I passed an accident where an 18 wheel truck overturned on a curve where the wind changed from a tailwind (for him) to a crosswind and blew the truck over. This was a little chilling, especially after reading in the morning's paper of a solo woman cyclist who was stuck and killed by a tour bus yesterday on the west coast road. I spent a lot of time as far into the shoulder as I could ride.

By the time I got to Clinton, which was my original goal, and was the first town after Balclutha, I was beat. Unfortuntely, the hostel there was a little too shabby, even for me. I had stopped in the Balclutha Info Centre as I passed through and copied down the number of a farmstay that was near Clinton.

I called and they were available. It was, however, eight kilometers further. So into a roaring crosswind I went. It was blowing so hard that the fences along the way were howling. The only thing that made it humorous was a herd of cattle. As I was slogging along, head down, I heard this thumping next to me. I looked up and there was this whole herd of cattle running along with me. As they ran along more joined the group and ran along. I had to stop. They stopped. I took a picture of them watching me and as I continued they continued until they ran out of paddock.

I finally got to the Strathearn Cottage Farmstay and it was worth the extra ride (although I don't think that I could have gone much further). Strathearn Cottage is "Grandma's House"on the fouth generation, 3800 acre farm of Warwick and Ngaire Taylor. It is a modern two room cottage on there farm. The story is that Warwick's grandfather, a bachelor farmer, built the original house to court the local school teacher and was successful (The Grandma of the story). They lived in the original house until he retired and built a smaller house on the farm. When he passed on and Grandma was in her 90's she had this cottage built to make room for the next generation. Grandma is still alive at 101, but is in a rest home in Balclutha. So the family decided to turn the cottage into a guest house a couple of years ago.

The view was delightful with large glass doors out to a deck overlooking their fields and the train line in the background. As I was eating dinner, a hawk flew right past the window and circled over the field of barley in front of me. They have mostly sheep here, but also provide winter grazing for dairy cattle. They also are being to breed alpaca and keep a rare breed of pigs, called Kunekune pigs.

The Kunekune are an old crossbreed between Vietnamese pig and a Polish pig that was brought into New Zealand by the second European vessel to come to New Zealand. They were traded to the Maori and became the prized Maori animal for many years. As time went on they fell out of favor and were rescued from extinction in the 80's. They are pretty cute... for pigs.

Unfortunately, I had to move on the next morning, since they had the cottage booked...and, as the next entry will note, I soon found out why.

Updated: 06 April 2002