Herbert to Milton – 94 miles
I slept so well last night! Not a hard sleep, just rejuvenating. It looked like clouds were stirring this morning so I didn’t waste time hitting the road. I rode 31 miles to Waikouaiti where I stopped for coffee and a scone. My bum appreciates the breaks I have been taking every two hours, especially when it involves a soft padded chair. It also helps break up the day. Let’s me aim for shorter 20-30 mile segments instead of thinking about the whole day’s distance. The highway is easy to follow so I only pull out the map during breaks to make sure I am not dallying too slowly. Waikouaiti was my goal for last night. Had I made more miles the first day, I think I definitely would have made it.
What a brutal day so far. That big climb turned out to be a series of increasing climbs, 25 miles of them. Then, at the top of the last climb, when I was just handful of miles away, I saw a sign depicting that the road was closed to bicycles. I just rode up a beastly climb (not Gibraltar Road beastly but arduous all the same) and then was directed to a side road for the descent. Any cyclist will tell you that pedaling your ass off to get to the top of a hill is worth it because of the victorious downhill on the other side, where you just need to hold on for dear life and let gravity bring you down. Instead, I was siphoned off on a 3 mile downhill gravel road. Joy. It was very pleasant once I finally hit the pavement. Very few cars overall. Though I cannot help thinking about this climb for my return trip. What a dreadful day that will be.
Despite my bickering about topography, today has hands down been the most beautiful. All morning had the cool calmness that rain clouds have a way of causing. I rode up on a sleepy lake with black swans and a single white swan. So lovely. Then I immediately encountered the coast and actually rode along the wave crashing bluffs for awhile. Following my morning break is when the hills started up, but the views were stunning. So much green! Maybe I am easily impressed right now, I mean I did just return from the desolate Antarctic mountains, but the rolling hills and trees swaying in the wind. I have loved every view today. And the sheep have been particularly entertaining. They don’t even look up for a noisy semi truck, but my riding by has the power to send them running. I have been amusing myself With whistling and singing out once I am close to a flock of sheep on alert. They do not find it funny. My new goal is to get a whole mob of sheep running for their lives.
I spoke too soon about Dunedin. Officially my least favorite place so far. On top of a long rain delay, the highway turns into a motorway heading south out of town. Instead of 8 miles along the motorway, I had to turn back into the city and take a ridiculous path that involved a winding 12 miles with three unnecessary big climbs in the pouring rain on roads with minimal shoulders. I should have grabbed fast food and hit the road right away. After about two hours in the rain, I stubbornly just kept moving.
I did see an incredible sight this afternoon, a herd of one hundred or more deer! No exaggeration . I have never seen so many deer in one place. They were just helping themselves to the grassy grove in a field of grain. It was crazy. I also have a new success on the startling of farm animals. I coerced a tiny horse to run along with me for the whole duration of its field, maybe 300 meters long. I was so delighted!
In total I rode another 38 miles to Milton. I was pretty over cycling when I arrived there. My feet had been cold and wet for hours, the air felt cold because my bike shorts were still mostly wet, and then the sun finally decided to come out again just in time to start setting. I needed a morale booster and supper was the ticket. I ate a huge meal of pork belly, mash potatoes, roasted vegetables, red cabbage salad, and chocolate cake with cream and ice cream at the Fork n the Road restaurant. Yes, that brought me back to happiness. I am 16 miles short of my intended mileage, but it was late and I was ready to stop moving. I am staying at the Happy Inn Backpackers. It is a quiet hostel with a cheap, warm bed and shower. Somewhere dry to hang my clothes. It is just what I needed. And the owner is a friendly German-Swiss man who taught me to juggle. Seriously, I had three bean bags up to 8 or 9 turn-overs before losing a bag. I feel like I need to expand this skill. I am now on the lookout for a set of six bean bags. A career at the carnival may be in my future yet!