Monday, February 9, 2009

2/9/2009 - The Tallest Road in New Zealand

I am in serious mode for today. Up at 5:00AM. I've already almost completely packed other than the sleeping bag. Tires are tested. I have figured out that eggs seem to give me the most long-lasting energy, so cook up 6 scrambled eggs, 4 pieces of toast, and two servings of yoghurt in addition to the 1 liter of milk. It is still dark, but the twilight is finally up enough to head out with the use of my blinking rear light and super-visible vest (Thanks, Sara and Nick!)

IMGP1665.JPG Go time, baby. Gonna be a climb.

The sun starts spreading over the horizon as my leg warm up. The sunrise is spectacular as I start up the valley.

IMGP1668.JPGI hate power lines.

Despite going on a slight to moderate uphill at this stage, I still average 12mph. Good sleep and 6 eggs seem to be the answer. I guess the rest day may have something to do with it, too.

IMGP1669.JPGI get very confused looks from sheep everywhere I go. They were all looking in different directions until they caught sight of me.

After 10-11 miles, I come into Cardrona, an old mining town. It has the single cleanest public restroom I have seen in New Zealand. They also kept the tiny town looking like it did in the late 1800s during the gold rush here with regards to store fronts and such. Pretty cool.

The uncool part is that Cardrona is when it is supposed to get steep. It is 8:00AM. The clouds are coming in. Time to get going.

IMGP1670.JPGI scoff.

IMGP1671.JPGThe scenery is almost Arizona-ish. I feel like I am on a tour of the "A" states in the US with the Alaska-like terrain yesterday.

After a few more miles, I am up to about 2400 feet from Wanaka's 1000 foot elevation when I started. Then it angles up.

Frankly, it is no Haast, but it is steep and long. The legs are in "diesel engine" mode and keep pace with my breathing pretty well. I get a lot of encouragement from passing cars, too, which is nice.

IMGP1672.JPGChippendale's called. They want their vest back.

At last, I can start to see the top. I have beaten the Crown Range Road.

IMGP1674.JPG3506 feet of elevation, over 1100 feet higher than any other climb I have done.

IMGP1675.JPGTop of New Zealand. It is really exhilarating. Warm breeze, no rain as of yet, and the views are amazing.

IMGP1676.JPGHere's a bit of history for you. I couldn't be bothered to read it.

IMGP1683.JPGThis is going to be fun.

IMGP1678.JPGLooking out toward Queenstown, the furthest off spot you can see.

After a little rest here, I start down. It doesn't take long for my eyes to be streaming, but it is very fun.

IMGP1684.JPGYou can see the road below, which is the elevation that I will be at soon.

IMGP1685.JPGLooking toward Queenstown, about halfway down.

IMGP1686.JPGThe road get twisty towards the bottom. Gets almost dizzy when you make those 180 degree turns.

IMGP1687.JPGFor some reason, they put this sign up at the very bottom of the twisty, dangerous hill. It's the first exclamation point I've seen on a sign. I test my brakes at least twice, just to be sure.

IMGP1688.JPGIt's just 10 miles from the bottom of the hill to Queenstown, into a headwind, but I make it at last. It's only 11:30AM. It's a good feeling. I can think of many days in my teens where I wasn't even close to waking up at that time.

At last, in Queenstown. It is what you expect - boisterous, full of more tourists than permanent residents. But it is also clean, with plenty of restaurants and gift shops. I set up camp at the cheapest campground in town at NZ$18 per night. Not bad, actually. The shower is fantastic.

End up wandering the downtown for awhile, and see someone carrying a pizza box. Done and done. Fine the Hell Pizza outlet and pick up a double pepperoni. Even though Kiwis don't know what real pepperoni is, it is still good in its canadian bacon-y way.

I am using the time to update the blog, as I have been falling down on the job. Also do some e-mails - Kris and Erik should be tandem biking their way in tomorrow, and we are planning catching back up then. Looking forward to seeing them!

Going to kick back a bit tonight, but I am going for a Fergburger tomorrow. I will explain more in tomorrow's blog. Jon and Sally will understand.


  1. The british met office has just issued a flood warning for our local area due to the pavlovian response to your mention of a fergburger. Remember your fellow americans will be disbelieving, but do not hide them from the truth-it is the greatest cow based product in the world. Keep up the good work.
    Jon & Sally

  2. Well your journey is truly becoming quite epic. I continue to follow you blog as much as possible with equal parts jealousy and sympathetic sore legs. Your blog skills have been developing nicely and I think that if anything your writing has become better. I do notice a continued predilection for commenting on the fluffiness of clouds however.
    By the way, the best part of the cow is the “oyster”, just ask your brother.

  3. Oh what a wonderful, and as J. Cox notes, epic journey. I am riveted to my seat at every sinuous curve of the road, nearly faint at the fluffiness of the clouds, and laugh joyously at Ryan's funny view of the world.
    I am ofcourse, the elderly Mother who (I suddenly, sickingly realize) will be terrorrizing the world soon in spandex.
    For those of you who do not yet know,Tom and I are joining Ryan and his blog down in Australia where we pick up our custom tandem recumbent tricycle, and we three will pedal across Tasmania for three weeks.
    So, be kind to us, oh gentle readers! (see above). Are you listening,J. Cox?

  4. I am feeling deprived of Bummatical input. My reprieve from nursing texts is in limbo. Has anyone heard from our favorite adventurer??


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