The first mountain biking in months… Think I’ll do some more.

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What exactly what I was supposed to do here - did I miss the guy handing out kevlar jackets??

What exactly what I was supposed to do here – did I miss the guy handing out kevlar jackets??

Someone was was obviously getting desperate for tourist attractions...

Someone was was obviously getting desperate for tourist attractions…

Dunedin, taken from the coast road on the Otago peninsula

Dunedin, taken from the coast road on the Otago peninsula

Taken from the back of the train.

Taken from the back of the train.

First time I've ever seen such a thing, where trains & cars share the same bridge.  Just as well I had my arrow on there so the trains go round...

First time I’ve ever seen such a thing, where trains & cars share the same bridge. Just as well I had my arrow on there so the trains go round…

Johnny trying to get arty.

Johnny trying to get arty.

2 mean machines. A tree feller & a Santa Cruz Tallboy.

2 mean machines. A tree feller & a Santa Cruz Tallboy.

Ukelele orchestra

Ukelele orchestra

Riders in the Duathlon

Riders in the Duathlon

From Dunedin, I caught a train inland to Pukerangi, the last stop of the train that day. It was a tourist train taking people along the Taieri Gorge. I spent most of the journey sitting at the back of the very last carriage, watching the tracks disappear into the distance trying to not stick my head out the side when the narrow tunnels approached (if this were the UK health & safety would have prevented it. Thankfully it’s NZ). Once at the last stop, all the passengers got out and looked about pointing their cameras at anything remotely interesting before getting back on again and head back to Dunedin. I got on my bike and headed towards Middlemarch, 20km or so away. Middlemarch, the end of the line as it stands today, is also the start of the Otago Central Rail (cycle) Trail. 160km of (almost) flat cycling along a derelict railway track which has been turned into a very popular cycleway. In the first 70km of the trail, I must have passed at least 200 cyclists doing the route west to east, mostly as part of organised tours. I stopped at the first real town, OK village, Ranfurly where there is an art-deco festival on this weekend – everything from people in period costume, a ukulele orchestra and vintage tractors. Can’t wait. In the mean time I headed up the road to the small village of Naseby 15km away, which for such a small place (so sleepy the coffee shop wasn’t open at 9.45am. At the weekend. In summer), rather surprisingly holds the first? only? dedicated indoor curling rink in the southern hemisphere. In the winter, the locals curl on the local pond it’s pretty nippy in these parts in the winter apparently. Come to think of it, it was pretty damn cold last night too… 5 deg or so.

Anyhow, as well as curling, it has some pretty awesome mountain biking, which I couldn’t help but explore for myself. Knowing there were mountain bikes to be hired, I asked a bunch of folk at the village green putting up a marquee where it was – ‘you’ll be looking for me then’ was the response I got (I did say it’s a small place). Through a bit of a (rather boring) technical misunderstanding, Kela VERY kindly offered me his own carbon Santa Cruz Tallboy. The 3-4 months of cycling daily (getting fitter), combined with an outrageously fast bike made for a great time. It turns out that the marquee was being put up for a wedding, the bride of which is of one of New Zealand’s best cross-country mountain bikers, which explains why there are so many mountain bikers (and bikes) in town.

This morning, I headed back down to ukulele and tractor action, though the combination of slightly elderly cyclists wearing way more lycra than they should be dancing to ukulele Beatles covers all got a bit much for me so I headed further along the rail trail. Today there is a duathlon taking place on the rail trail, in the opposite direction to myself. There must have been a good 200 of them – the first few were ‘head down’ grinding away the gears in super competitive mode, and by the last few, there were people pushing up the rail trail (this is a railway line remember), and sitting in the shade of the few trees that appeared along the line. Tonight I’ve made it to Omakau and plan to make it to Queenstown by the 25th (I’ve booked a hostal & there’s mountain biking galore there).

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7 responses »

    • I think you’ll be disappointed! He’s only(!) done about 3600 miles so far! Great pic of the ukelele orchestra – worth looking at the full size version and panning across the faces.

  1. And when in queenstown you must venture into Fergburger on shotover street. A couple of those should keep you going for a while. Somewhat envious of the ukelele/art deco combo action..

  2. Ha! Now there’s a coincidence…I appeared alongside the Knoydart Ukelele Orchestra last night, playing Rasputin and, wait for it, John Lennon! So it is very possible I was singing along to Hey Jude played by ukeleles at the same time as you….
    Don’t know if you picked up that Calum Wilson won a major downhill race in New Zealand a couple of weeks ago: senior category.

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