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Archive for the ‘Unitouring’ Category

SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 15 Otago Peninsula

We said goodbye to Tomas and Chris, who both headed home today.
Although many took yesterday as the ‘final’ destination ride, we had promised a ride out to the Otago Peninsula.
We met up with another photographer from the Otago Daily Times to pose for some shots as we climbed up Highcliff Road, with panoramic views of Dunedin in the background. From there we continued along the peninsula to Sandymount Reserve where we hiked out to a rather large cliff aptly known as The Chasm’, dropping over 200m to the ocean below. After gaping at the enormous cliff, we continued to ‘Lover’s leap’- a tunnelled arch carved out by the waves crashing below.
It was our final day together so we had a dinner at an Indian Restaurant. It was also Dani’s birthday today, and Anna baked a cake for her to celebrate in style!

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SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 14 Waihola to Dunedin 45km

Although this was penultimate day of riding, it would bring us to Dunedin, our final destination.
After posing for a group photo along Lake Waihola, we set off towards Dunedin. It was mostly on-road riding, but there was to be some STEEEP climbing. We were back on our climbing cranks as we started grinding up the hill. Eventually we reached the top, and our first glimpse of the coastline.
It was gorgeous day as we rode down to Taieri Mouth, a small fishing village at the outlet of the Taieri river. From there we followed the coastline, for another obligatory ice-cream stop in Brighton beach.
As we reached Dunedin we were hit with another steep climb, and another steep drop- they build roads straight over hills around here, instead of around them! The final run in to Dunedin took us through to the Octagon, the town centre. We posed for photos outside the town hall then checked in to our accommodation before heading to Baldwin Street, the worlds steepest residential street, to test the legs further.
Ken was the first to ride up, on his 29”/125 unicycle, but with his seat twisting had to try again. Tomas was the next to have a go, followed by Nicola and Natascia and Sean. Dave brought along some 20” unicycles so we could all attempt on a lower gear.
Ken and Tomas both made it up eventually, although conditions weren’t ideal as it had started raining. Most of the riders slipped and skidded as they hit the steep part of the climb.
When we’d had enough climbing for the day, we went back to the hostel for pasta Italian style, with Gaetano relieving Anna as head chef.

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SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 13 Lawrence to Waihola 65km

There would be a lot of climbing on todays ride, so most of us had our climbing cranks ready! We rode 2km out of town before hitting the climb, which rose up like a wall to greet us.
We met the support vehicles at the ‘top’, and after grouping we were relieved to hear Dave Goodman tell us tht it would be ‘rolling’ hills from there. The rolling ‘hills’ turned out to be more like rolling mountains, as it continued up and down in a rather steep, long manner. The gravel road had just been re-‘gravelled’, which made it very difficult to ride as our wheels sank in.
Dave’s son Daniel met us near the top and rode with us for a while. Dan was on the first SINZ tour, so it was nice to have him ride with us again.
The descent was steep, dropping from pine forest into native bush with plenty of wood pigeons flying overhead. We stopped for lunch then hiked to Waipouri falls, a secluded waterfall and swimming hole.
After this we continued our descent and were met by Dave’s wife Novelia who had a picnic waiting for us.
The final stretch to Waihola was mainly flat and via a backroad, but various routes were taken including a busy stretch along State Highway 1. Luckily we all made it to our hotel eventually!

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SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 11 Launder to Roxburgh 72km

We had a nice continental breakfast and then posed for a group photo with for our hosts Bruce and Esme in front of Lauder School.
The trail would take us to Alexandra today, where we would finish the Otago Rail Trail and start the Roxburgh Gorge Trail. The local press had gotten wind of our trip, so we met an Otago Daily Times reporter under the Alexandra bridge as we rode past. He spent some time interviewing the unicyclists as we were having lunch.
This was also the start of the Roxburgh Gorge Trail, which follows the Roxburgh River as it carves its way through the Roxburgh Gorge. It was both scenic and fun to ride, with rolling singletrack all the way to Doctors Point.
The Roxburgh Trail is in two sections. We had to meet a jet-boat at Doctors point for a boat transfer further down the river, where it connects up with the second part of the Roxburgh Gorge Trail.
The Roxburgh River is lined by stone cottages/sleepouts used by the prospectors during the Otago Goldrush, and the jet-boat driver gave us a commentary of the hardships they endured. We were dropped off at Shingle Creek, where it re-joins the Roxburgh Gorge Trail. The last section of the trail had some grunty climbs, and took us to the finish at Roxburgh Dam.
We met up with our support Vans and then took a short gravel descent to the start of the Clutha Gold trail. This followed the amazingly turquoise coloured Clutha River, and the tree lined trail took us to the Roxburgh Motel, where we would spend the night.

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SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 10 Naseby to Lauder 80km

We were to begin the Central Otago Rail Trail in Hyde, not quite the start in Middlemarch but enough for us to see a good portion of the trail.
After slopping on thick layers of sunscreen, we set off on the Rail Trail. The trail was smooth and climbed very gradually. We went through several long railway tunnels which was a lot of fun- the more organised riders brought lights, the rest of us just aimed blindly toward the light at the end of the tunnel, hoping we wouldn’t hit an obstacle or crash into the tunnel walls along the way.
It was a hot day, and getting hotter by through the afternoon. We stopped at various points on the first SINZ tour, with Ken recreating photos he took 10 years ago.
Of course, there was an obligatory refreshment stop with much time spent outside Ranfurly station sipping cold drinks and licking popsicles.
The support vehicles met us at Wedderburn station, where the original building is featured in a famous painting by Otago artist Graham Sydney. It was a good place for an afternoon siesta, with many of the riders snoring away in the shade.
After lunch we were back along the rail trail. It was an incredibly hot, long stretch of trail, punctuated by impressive looking bridges. We had another ice-cream stop at the Gilchrist Store in Oturehua (the oldest continuously trading store in New Zealand), before riding a bit further to arrive in Lauder. We stayed at the Lauder School B&B, a converted school accommodation run by Bruce and Esme Dawson. The rooms are aptly named, with riders staying in the ‘detention shed’, ‘music cottage’, ‘art room’, staffroom’ and ‘sports shed’.
We had a hearty meal across the road at the Lauder Hotel, instantly doubling the population of the town with our unicyclists.

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SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 9 Naseby rest day

We had another day to rest the legs and catch up on washing, eating and sightseeing.  The original intention was to spend the day mountain unicycling in Naseby’s renowned mountainbike trails, but most riders elected to rest the legs instead.

The Curling Rink was just down the road, so we headed there for a session, which was really fun!  Many of us had watched curling on TV, but never tried the real thing.  We hefted the heavy granite slabs across the ice, trying to get them into the target zone, helped along with some strategic brushing of the ice.

In the afternoon we headed to St Bathans to soak in the blue lake and have lunch at the pub.

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SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 8 Oamaru to Naseby 62km

This was a day that some riders looked forward to, and others dreaded. It was going to be a big climb  up Danseys Pass, then a big descent to Naseby, where we would connect up with the Central Otago Rail Trail.

As we expected it was up and up and up!!!  This is a quiet unsealed gravel road, with farmland gradually making way to more alpine tussock as we climbed.  For Anna and myself, it was the most fun ride so far.

When we reached the top, we could see had a picnic lunch amongst the tussock, with not a bad view!

The trail then descended, with another short climb before dropping down to Naseby. The total climb for the day was ~1300m, so the legs had good workout.

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SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 7 Oamaru rest day

We still had to finish the A2O trail, so after breakfast the riders gathered to ride the last 2km to the finish, across the botanic gardens, through the beautiful Oamaru Stone buildings and to the pier at the finish of the A20 at the Pacific Ocean!

It was a great way to finish the first part of our trip.  We spent the day catching up on washing, exploring the town, and going to the Steampunk museum.

One of the best things about Oamaru is their little blue penguin colony. In the evening we went to watch the cute penguins come back to shore and scurry into their burrows after a day out fishing.

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SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 6 Kurow to Oamaru 80km

Todays ride would be one of the toughest. It was a scorching hot day. We rode the gravel track, crossing several dried up rivers and then had a stop at the Maori Rock Art site for a walk.

From there we continued through Duntroon, and then climbed up a steep hill to the Elephant Rocks, which were impressive rock formations of the side of the trail.

The trail continued on to further interesting limestone escarpments along Island Cliff, then degenerated into soft white limestone gravel, which was horrific to ride on.  Until then, the Alps 2 Ocean trail had been perfect for unicycling, but this stuff was like riding on lumpy flour. It was a painful grind the last 40km to the finish in Oamaru.

We were completely shattered by the time we reached our accommodation, so we decided not to finish the Alps 2 Ocean trail today (which ends at the pier on Oamaru beach), leaving it for the next day.

We had a BBQ dinner which Gaetano took charge of, and it was quite a feast for the ravenous riders.

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SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 5 Omarama to Kurow 72km

We started back on the Alps to Ocean trail to Omarama, one of the nicest sections of the trail.  There was a nice climb followed by an equally epic descent to Otematata for lunch and a dunk in the Lake.

After that we climbed up the steep road up to the Lake Benmore Dam- an impressive sight once at the top. It’s hard to know if we are the first unicyclists to ride across the dam, but we are very likely the largest ever group of unicyclists to ride across the dam!

From there we rode along Lake Aviemore to the Aviemore Dam. Our driver Said had found us a nice swimming hole under a tree, which was a nice place for afternoon tea.

We also took quick hike up the Deep Stream Walk to a secluded river valley (and had another swim), before riding the last section to Kurow.

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