Saturday, February 7, 2009

2/5/2009 - Rest Days Are for Wusses

Wake up reasonably early. No rain, which is nice. I am in a determined mood, as the day will start almost immediately going uphill and windy. I am mentally prepared. Gassed up with bananas and muesli and coffee, it is soon time to push off.

IMGP1598.JPG Franz Josef, minus the cloudcover but plus the ultraviolet rays. Yes, I put on sunscreen.

Warm up the legs over about 5 miles, then start the climb. On the altitude map, it shows three very steep spikes, all in a row over 22km before Fox Glacier. They total about 2000 feet of elevation gain. Luckily, they are not as steep as I was led to believe.

IMGP1599.JPGThis is the very first part of what I get to go over today. You know how the camera adds 10 lbs? It also makes nasty hills look positively relaxed.

At about 700 sweat-inducing feet of climb, I end up at the end of a line of cars waiting for construction. Being one of the last ones there, when they finally get the "go" signal, they've already been waiting, but signal me through and give a bit of encouragement. I can feel my heart treading dangerously close to "rhumba on cocaine and Red Bull" (speed-wise only, people!) as I up my tempo through the uphill construction zone. They kindly hold off traffic until I make it through the kilometer.

IMGP1600.JPGBe prepared. I like mountains, and there is no cost to develop film in a digital camera.

IMGP1602.JPGBetween the first and second climb. Surprisingly, there were no sheep or cattle at ALL in this picture.

IMGP1603.JPGComing through the second climb. I like to call this "River, Mountain, and Cloud #955".

IMGP1604.JPGThe top of the final hill. I'm looking ahead (Quick lifesaving point: New Zealanders drive on the left, not the right).

After finishing off this spectacular run, I end up in Fox Glacier, a little town that seems to have built mostly on foreign currency. It is a big stop for a lot of tour buses, and once again, I am treated to the fast-moving lilt of French, Danish, German, and a series of wacky English accents.

IMGP1605.JPGLooking over the rugby field toward the glacier, which is not visible. Come to think of it, why did I put this one in?

I spent about an hour kicking back at a cafe with some hot food (fish burger and a Coke) to placate my barkin' dogs.

The big decision, then. I had planned to make this kind of a half day to rest, but Lake Paringa is only 40 miles away. The pure sugar and caffeine of Coke Classic decides for me - I am going for it.

On my way out of town, decide to take the road up to the Fox Glacier viewpoint. Who knows when I am going to see it again? It adds about 4 miles to the journey and I realize that this side trip is much less fun when dragging all my equipment along.

IMGP1611.JPGThis is me, fighting the Man.

IMGP1609.JPGThat's all of the glacial love you get for 4 miles of work. Next time, I'll just photoshop a postcard. Props out to the very nice ladies who took this picture for me, though.

Back on the road, I am looking for a spot that one of my favorite pictures of the 1985 trip was taken:

3998 Ryan with bike age 7 south of Fox GlacierAll I know about this picture is that it was taken "south of Fox". That leaves a lot of ground to cover. These socks cover a lot, as well. And are those shoes 'Roos?!

IMGP1617.JPGYeah, I'm not sure I got the spot right, either. And the camera is tilted. But YOU try to get a decent shot when you have 10 seconds to get 150 lbs of bike across a busy highway.

Actually, that last picture was take 4. You may enjoy evidence of just how difficult this was.

IMGP1613.JPGJuuuuust a bit slow. Though the world seems less tilty than the above picture.

IMGP1616.JPGJuuuuust about crushed. You can see me on the other side, just in front of the driver's scowl.

Finally come across the spot about 100 yards down that seems to be the actual spot that picture was taken, but there was nowhere to put the camera. Perhaps I will work some Photoshop magic someday.

IMGP1618.JPGGood enough for government work.

At this point, the road is fairly flat. No major hills from Fox all the way to Lake Paringa. Definitely start to feel the constant pedaling, though.

IMGP1621.JPGStopped to grab lunch #2 - can you believe that this scenery was all in the same day, and within cycling distance?

IMGP1622.JPGBack away from the beach, getting closer to the lake. Talk about an incredible day. Reminds me, mountain-wise, of some of Alaska.

At last, hit Lake Paringa. It has been a long day, and I waste no time putting up camp. As soon as that is done, I am into the water (in my bike shorts) to wash both the bike shorts and the day's grime (sunscreen, road dirt, Deet, and a healthy amount of sweat-related salt in combination could really stun the olfactory senses.) Given the recent difficulties with my "waterproof" camera and river pictures, there is no photographic evidence of this, which I am sure is an enormous relief to you all.

IMGP1623.JPGMoonrise. I sleep better in my tent knowing that the chance of a werewolf attack is very low.

IMGP1624.JPGThe setting sun. It is sleepy time for me.

Dinner is cold again - Why does PB&J never get old? Weird. Spend the requisite 15 minutes in senseless black fly killing, then crash out. Tomorrow's goal is the base of the nastiest climb of the entire trip - Haast Pass. Another 60 miles.

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