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Posts Tagged ‘Unitour’

SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 12 Roxburgh to Lawrence 63km

The trail continued a further along the river and we stopped at Millers Flat for an ice-cream stop. From there we carried on to our lunch meeting point in the town of Beaumont. Several riders missed this, as the town consisted of a single pub!
From there the trail continued through farmland and landscape which still bore reminders of the area’s gold rush history along the way.
Our accommodation at the Lawrence Townshouses had massage chairs and a hot tub for us to relax after the day’s riding. The perfect way to end the day!

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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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Downhill Unicycling in the Himalayas

Another cool video from Nicola, shot during Unipal, the Himalaya’s Unicycle Tour.

Yes, we really do pedal that quickly!

Unipal: Nicola’s video

Beautiful video of our Himalayas Unicycle Tour:

Unipal: Day 11 Tal to Pokhara

We were told we could ‘ride as much as we liked’ today.  It was 30km to the start of the jeep trail, where we had lunch on our very first day.  The idea was that we would leave a couple of hours before the Jeeps, which would pick us up one by one as they caught us. If we rode fast enough, we could make it all the way to the end without pick up.  That was enough motivation for many, just to avoid repeating the not so memorable bouncy jeep ride.

The trail meandered through steep cliffs along a river, which offered some incredible scenery.  It was very rough riding, with big rocks and ruts to plough our way through.  Most of us were picked up along the way, when we’d had enough riding.  Corbin, Scott and Tomas were the only riders to complete the ride, meeting us at the finish.

After lunch, we would say our goodbyes to Sean and Antoine, who were heading to Kathmandu, whilst the rest of us would transfer to Pokhara.  It was a fun journey, with our vehicle alternately playing Nepalese folk music, Britney Spears, and some random pop music, whilst we sped through the countryside.

When we arrived at Lake Phewa in Pokhara, we were taken to a boat ramp and ferried across to an island.  It turned out that Nicola and Natascia were getting married, Nepalese style, at the island temple.  It was one of the fastest wedding ceremonies on record, as it was getting dark and we had to get back to shore!

After a hot shower at one of the fanciest hotels on tour, we proceeded to finish our celebrations at a local restaurant.  It was time for more farewells.  We said goodbye to our guides, Ankit and Dawa, as well as the group who would be leaving on the extended tour with Blair.  They would fly out to Jomsom the next morning, where their tour would have finished had we managed to get over Thorung La pass.

For Jason Williams, it may be his last unicycle tour as our tour leader, after selling Grasshopper Adventures to his business partner last year.  It has been an incredible partnership over the last decade: it included The Laos Unitour 2006, Uninam 2008, Induni 2009, Monguni 2010, Yunnanuni 2011, Unistan 2013 and now Unipal 2015.  We have had 7 successful unicycle tours thanks to my chance meeting with Jason back in 2004 (Vietnam to Cambodia), when I joined his OXFAM charity cycle challenge on a unicycle.  We wish you all the best and hope you can join us on a future tour (as a rider)!

Unipal: Day 10 Chame to Tal

It would be another tough day or riding, without any of our scheduled rest days, as we had to head to Tal, which was slightly beyond our starting point of Bagarchap.  However, being downhill, it was also incredibly fun.  We had lunch at our first guesthouse in Bagarchap- then followed the river all the way to Tal. There was a large swingbridge to cross, followed by an incredible sets of rock steps carved into the side of the cliff.

We arrived in Tal, which is a village in a secluded little valley by the river.  It was time to say goodbye to our Porters and their leader Mingma Sherpa.  They had been an incredible team, never complaining whilst each carrying 30kg of gear, not to mention evacuating Bruce in the middle of the night during a snowstorm.

It was Nepalese New Year, and the locals in the village partied well into the night, with loud music that resonated through the whole valley.

Unipal: Day 9 Manang to Chame

It would be mostly downhill today, but we were heading straight to Chame, which was two villages prior to Manang on the way up.  Because of this, we got up extra early for a 6.30am start.

It was a beautiful ride with much of the hillsides covered in snow, quite different to how they looked on the way up.  We had lunch in Pisang, where we stayed a few days previously, and then continued downhill. There was a massive landslide in the middle of the track, with large bulldozers at work clearing the fallen trees. They allowed our group to proceed over the slippery logs, but it was not was no easy feat with dozens of fallen trees and unstable rock underfoot.

When we got in to Chame, we had hot food, and for many of us, hot showers for the first time in 3 days. Bliss!

Bruce had been discharged from the local clinic and looked very bright considering his medical emergency only a couple days prior.

Unipal: Day 8 Yak Kharka, back to Manang!!!

What turned out to be a pleasant sprinkling of snow the day before, turned out to be about 20cm of snow the next day! We woke up, looking forward to heading to the last stop before Thorung La pass, our highest point of the tour.  Instead, we were greeted by a white landscape completely blanketed in snow.

It was unseasonably cold and snowing (this is normally the time when climbers summit the peak because of good weather). Unfortunately this meant that our attempt to cross the pass would be too dangerous. If we waited out our rest day at Yak Kharka, we risked being snowed in completely and unable to descend.  Either way, it meant that we had to abandon the pass and head back down to Manang.

Despite the disappointment among the riders, we still had some good riding ahead of us- DOWNHILL!

The singletrack that we climbed up the day before was now covered in snow, which allowed many of us to practice our snow unicycling skills. It made quite a different experience compared to the day before. Eric shows off his crazy Canadian temperature regulation by stripping off to ride in the snow (it’s warm and sunny!)

There were also many Yaks on the trail, who were befuddled by these weird one wheeled creatures riding in the snow.

Unipal: Day 7 Manang to Yak Kharka 4000m

Todays ride would take us up to 4000m, which is higher than most people in the group had been to before.  We started by weaking through the backstreets of the old village in Manang, with many alleyways, before heading up the hill towards Yak Kharka.  There were several ‘Stupa’ stops, where we had a chance to take in the views.

We stopped a beautiful teahouse that looked out at the mountains, before proceeding along the trail.  It was all singletrack riding from Manang, which was not overly technical but a lot of fun riding.  We crossed one of the longest swing bridges on the tour so far, which was slightly disconcerting on a unicycle.

When we arrived in Yak Kharka we took huddled into the teahouse with hot soup, lemon tea and other beverages.  It started snowing when we arrived, but an intrepid group decided to go for a walk up the hill with our guide Dawa.

Later in the evening, one our group members, Bruce, developed quite severe acute mountain sickness, so we had to send him down with 6 porters taking turns carrying him to Manang in the middle of the night (whilst it was snowing!).