We went away for a week and Molly stayed with Jack the Russ. We missed her more than she missed us, I'm sure.
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Border workers have been vaccinated in port, but it will be a long time before Covid vaccines become available for us. Which is fine as there are currently no cases in the community and we have been free to travel in New Zealand.
Last week the boyf and I headed off to bike the Alps2Ocean (me) and fly fish (him). We left Molly behind. She wasn’t nearly as upset about this as I was.
We packed up our camping, biking and fishing gear and drove the Land Rover south to Lake Tekapo, one of the starting points for the Alps2Ocean bike trail (I didn't want to start at Aoraki/Mount Cook as you have to helicopter in – a massive waste of fossil fuel. And you don’t miss too much, as the first day of biking has fantastic views of the mountains).
I wasn’t sure how easy I'd find the riding, as I don't do a lot of off-road rides, my bike has no suspension and it only has skinny tyres. I had changed them from 700×27 to 700×32, but this was still a lot smaller than most of the tyres I saw on the trail. So I took the full seven days to do the ride.
It is amazing to see New Zealand bit by bit, traversing from high country to low country and ultimately ending up at the sea. What struck me was though the settlements are small and three or four hours bike ride apart, humans have had a huge impact on the landscape. That is particularly obvious as you come down into the Waitaki and enter intensive dairy country, with its irrigated pastures that are sopping wet, in this time of drought. But even before that, there are very few areas of untouched wilderness.
It is still stunningly beautiful and I learned to take more time and stop more often to enjoy being in nature rather than rocking up at the campground at two or three o'clock in the afternoon. Because the trail wasn't nearly as hard as I expected. Even the climb out of Lake Ohau was straightforward. Though it was rocky and rough I didn't have to get out of my saddle and I don't have very low gears!
March is a popular time to do the Alps2Ocean and it was still fairly warm (plus we only had one day of rain). I swam a lot and enjoyed my tea and lunch breaks and the time to read books. Even the sandflies weren’t too bad.
I'm glad I did the trail on my regular bike, even though all the electric bikers passed me (it was more fun to have a coffee and leave later in the day so that they could be well ahead). I enjoyed the challenge of being able to go the distance under my own steam. It really wasn’t too arduous, as I didn’t have to walk the bike and I didn’t fall off (even though I came close on some shingle roads as my back wheel snaked out in deep gravel).
Though most of my riding was solo, I met some lovely people and would often see them at the end of the day at the pub. One person I kept seeing on the trail was Sue, a Kiwi from Levin who is a year younger than me and was also on a “muscle bike”. She went at a similar speed, but was more hard core as she was bike packing - taking all her camping gear with her. I only needed to pack what I needed for the day - rain gear, warm gear, tools, spares, book, phone, charger, lots of food and a flask of Lady Grey tea!

When I got to Oamaru and the end of the A2O, I pedalled straight to the beach. The boyf, Sue and her partner were there to meet me, though they were keener on joining me in a beer than in the sea.

Now I"m back to work and wondering where to go next. I hope you are free to go somewhere fun soon too.

Ta ta for now.

PS. I'll be writing more detail for people interested in doing the A2O on my blog (and putting up photos).
PPS. Molly adored stand up paddle boarding earlier this month. She prefers it to swimming, though she (weirdly) really likes bubble baths.
PPPS. If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it on.
Copyright © 2021 Alex Hallatt's Cartoons and Writing, All rights reserved.

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