Even after only 15km there was a hint of regret. No bike shorts, a hard seat and still over 150km to cycle. As much as we thought we had planned our three-day cycle tour, some of us really had no idea what was in store and what it would feel like after hours and hours on the bike a day.
Year 13 OED travelled to Middlemarch in Central Otago for the start of the Central Otago Rail Trail Cycle Tour on Monday 12th September.
Tuesday 13th - Day 1 of the tour and panniers on each of our bikes were loaded with spare tubes, food for three days, sleeping bags, clothing for three days, first aid kits, bike maintenance gear and our phone chargers. We were just about to leave and the first lemon occurred. (Please note: doing jumps with panniers bags loaded is not good for the bike rack and pannier bags). A half hour fix, then the rain started and we hadn’t even left the campground.
Eventually we found the start of the trail with a navigation correction, and our journey on the bikes began. Middlemarch to Ranfurly is about 60km on the bike and, for half of it, the rain kept coming. We had to get used to balancing on the bike with all the weight packed into our panniers. However by day three this was easier as we had eaten most of our food.
Day One can be summed up with:
- Sore butts
- Cold rain
- Long straights
- Lunch at the Hyde Hotel
- And the first of many mechanical stops
On Day Two we cycled from Ranfurly to Moa Creek. This was, surprisingly, a pretty pleasant day. The sun was shining, attitudes were positive and as seats had been padded out, butts weren’t as sore. However, after 60 km and nine hours in the saddle, the nemesis of the tour raised its ugly head. A hill, the gradient of the steepest part of Dyers Pass Road that was over 3km long! It was getting dark. We were tired and most of us not at all happy with this barrier to getting to our accommodation in Moa Creek. A few toys got thrown prior, during and after the hill. Even the fast downhill didn’t make up for it. Then it rained and the sun had set. A few more kilometres to the middle of nowhere to pitch our tents and have a well-earned meal and rest.
Day Three began with a side-trip to Poolburn Reservoir where some of 'The Lord of the Rings' had been filmed. Along with what we had seen in the previous two days, the scenery here was amazing. Combined with some good chat about the origin of the Maori Olympics and the KFC secret Moa recipe, and a fast 12km downhill for those who dared, this was a great start to Day Three. The last day took us from Moa Creek, via Ophir and back to the rail trail and along to Alexandra.
This part of the trail had gorges, tunnels, miners hut ruins, loads of history and it was made even more spectacular with a perfect weather day.
Overall we cycled 180km over three days. There was a lot of laughing and banter. The trip also gave us the chance to see different sides of peoples’ personalities. Some of us sang beautifully throughout the tour. Some of us got tired and snooty at times. Some of us found a new love for porridge (and breakfast in general). Some of us understood how to overcome a challenge and we all had the opportunity to use the plans we had made to lead the class during the tour.
We even identified how cross-curricular this trip was: Grahame Sydney’s art in real life, NZ goldmining history was everywhere, Physics with regards up and downhills, Geography in the landscape, Food Technology for each of our own planned and cooked meals, Economics to ensure we could afford the accommodation and transport, English to read each info stop and then to describe it all and, of course, Maths is everywhere.