The Ruru's

T.I.M.E. Habits • Minimalists • Travel Enthusiasts

Category: Cycle Touring (page 2 of 16)

Alps to Ocean – Kurow to Oamaru 78 kms

We often go off the beaten track during adventures.

Getting lost can be both entertaining and entralling. As long as you don’t have to back pedal a heap of kilometres to regain the true compass direction!

Giant oak trees shouldered the road to escort us for most of today’s ride, the distance between varying. At their base, a white Oamaru stone cross. Inscribed on the cross, the names of soldiers who lost their lives during WWI and the year/place they fell. There were so many. The ones that pulled at the heart strings were the crosses with double names of two family members who perished.

Thinking we were lost having gone off the beaten track, we happened upon a monument. It read: ‘The Gallipoli Pine – Planted after WWI from seeds brought back from Gallipoli by Tpr: J.J. Mansfield 57526. (Joe) O.M.R.’ An arrow on the monument pointed in the direction and when we about faced, there on a hill top in the distance was ‘The Gallipoli Pine.’

Back in 2011, we walked from Istanbul to Galipolli to give homage at the Anzac Day celebrations in Turkey. My Maori Poau (Grandfather) had fought and survived the campaign. As Cesare Pavese once quoted, “we do not remember days … we remember moments” giving that exact moment some beauty, significance and feeling humbled.

Carrying on, we regained the A2O route markers. The blustery head wind didn’t deter, nor the threat of a downpour.

There is always extra in the tank when you know the end is nigh. That and us carrying rain gear should we have needed it. Oh, and the great nights sleep in a bed after the light was switched off!

What we thought was a welcoming sign ‘Kia Ora’ was in fact a road sign pointing to a settlement called Kia Ora. Who would have known?!

The Oamaru Public Gardens were in full bloom as we rode from one end to the other. By now, rain was falling. The ride through Oamaru’s new and old township to arrive at the beach was without fanfare.

Except for the hugging of each other to acknowledge our Alps to Ocean adventure before dementia had ended.

301 kms ridden.

A fantastic ride that has us repeat again, “Ya gotta love this country”

And ‘Lest we forget’ to those who fought for such.

Alps to Ocean – Omarama to Kurow 67 kms

There are eight power stations in the Waitaki Power Scheme however, the largest of them all is at the Benmore Dam. It’s the largest earth-filled water-retaining structure in New Zealand to hold Lake Benmore’s 1.25 billion cubic metres of the liquid stuff – water. To compare, it’s about 1.5 times as much water as Wellington harbour.

The last 800 metres riding up onto the dam itself was a slog. Sweat glistened the forehead and dribbled down skin. Moments of clenched teeth was share guts and determination to conquer Ben without stopping or walking. The reward breathtaking. Lots of breath taking actually, sucking in the oxygen to recover.

To the right and at the bottom, Lake Avimore where hordes of water craft of all sorts were making the most of summer; to the left and at the top, Lake Benmore where you could have easily been somewhere in Canada with the trees sewn onto the landscape right down to the waters edge. The water, tranquil and inviting. And deep. Very very deep.

Ominus clouds above the mountain skyline signaled a possible change in weather. We skirted Lake Avimore into a head wind that kept the temperature decent, with the sun still casting shadows where we rode.

You could smell them before you saw them. This part of the country is the habitat for introduced wild wallabies. And some took their last bounce off a vehicle to die where they landed. They reaked of road kill stench and it was frequent. Body odour had a more pleasantness about it, that’s for sure!

The Waitaki Dam was crossed and then it was head down pedaling into the head wind that had picked riding State Highway 83 on into Kurow. There was little distance between us and traffic passing so this is where you have to trust your wits about you and just go for it. And bugger me, just 500 metres to reach the Kurow township welcoming sign, another puncture.

The smell of rain was eminent. So too the remembering our night at Aoraki/Mount Cook with the lite sleeping bags, all apparel worn and fetal position. We took a motel room and had no sooner unloaded and the heavens opened up.

Turning a light switch on and off knowing no battery was needed was bliss being in hydro country.

Sleeping stretched out semi-attired was also good y’know.

The arguement started with who was going to turn off the friggin light!

Alps to Ocean – Twizel to Omarama 79 kms

Imagine life where you are confined to the one spot from birth to death, never ever experiencing what the world has to offer beyond such confinement.

Only to be snuffed out by the hand of a human or even worse, from a sea gull beak being consumed!

The Ohau Canal houses a salmon farm. We watched workers toss pellets into the large confinements and the top of the water splash feverishly as the salmon ate with passion. Further along the farm, a large hose ran from a confinement up onto shore and to a make shift shed. The intermittent ‘thwat’ sound was from individual salmon finally escaping except it was it’s final ‘dead fish swimming’ suck. The fish in this confinement were also swimming feverishly as well – we wondered if they knew?

Perched on the farm structure in-between were a number of seagulls. Waiting. Patiently.

It only took one smart salmon to realise what choice lay in-front and take the leap of faith jump to hopefully risk beating the odds and land in the canal before the hordes of beaks squawking “mine, mine, mine” (like they did on ‘Finding Nemo’) swoop to capture an easy meal mid-jump.

Freedom can again be short lived if the salmon make the choice to chomp onto a hook lure, cast from the anglers positioned on either sides of the canal who fish to try and capture the one that did get away.

Life as a salmon eh!

We like eating it and seeing the farm in action made the mouth moist! Especially when one is carrying de-hydrated ‘just add water’ meals and umpteen muselie bars.

We just about snuffed out a trekker on the off-road track of the Lake Ohau foreshore, walking towards us. Apologising, we learnt the young lass was stepping out the South Island part of the Te Araroa Trail, doing it north bound. We exchanged tales from the trail experiences to push on to a section of today’s ride that had us climb up to 900 metres at it’s highest point on the Tambrae Track.

When the track narrowed, so too did the under bike tyre conditions change and there was quite a bit of walking pushing the bikes and gear steadily up. It was about preserving the need to have to change a flatty as much as preserve the body fatigue that comes quicker on any given second day of distance riding. Mountain bikes without sundry would have been a breeze.

Stretching the legs allowed for safer glances backwards and take in the views across the basin to the Benmore Range. The back bone of the South Island looked just as stunning as it did yesterday.

When there is up, you are pretty much gauranteed down and it was easier riding once we summitted the height; it was also again hot, dry and dusty. There was the need to take a pit stop when a puncture did eventuate however, we were within 20kms of the Omarama township limits.

It’s a small township at the junction of State Highway 8 and 83. It’s population is boosted from anglers, astronomers, pilots who fly glider and during winter, snow sporters.  The hot tubs are wood fire heated if wanting a relaxing time to have a soak and, the Top 10 Camp Ground was certainly welcoming to a couple wanting a piece of dirt under some shade to pitch the tent.

Catching up with family friends who reside in Omarama was an additional bonus. They served us up some fresh salmon fillets caught earlier in the day and smoked with a brown sugar and sweet chilli sauce/apricot sauce glaze.

An unexpected different type of mouth moist from earlier this morning. It was devine.

With one eye on the sky keeping check on no sea gull overhead.

Alps to Ocean – Aoraki to Twizel 77 kms

The four larger ones sat seated beside each other in the back row; the two smaller frames sat beside the helicopter pilot. I was in the back. Claire was in the front.

The motor was gunned and the rotors grunted into spin; we lifted off the tarmac to be carried across the glacially-fed braided Tasman River to Tasman Point. The view was to die for. And when the pilot announced that we would be doing a quick sharp bank due to getting out of the way of an aircraft flight path, the steepness flung us all forward to test the buckle restraints and there were a couple who thought they were … going to be departing this earth.

I think it’s all part and parcel of the flight so as to get more bang for your buck. That, or the pilot has watched ‘Apolocolypse Now’ repeatedly! We disembarked to our awaiting chariots that were transported before us. We had already pedaled seven odd kms from the camp ground to the airport so the altitude topped off what was in store.

Especially when you could see the distance to be ridden, way off in the distance!

It was a mixture of biking terrain – rough shingle to gravel road to smooth shingle to dirt and not in any particular order. However, when you lifted your head and take in the surrounding, it was astonishing to write the least. We are at peace when out doing this sort of stuff. How can you not be when unplugged and in the same sentence, connected.

We followed the eastern shore of Lake Pukaki playing cat and mouse with the other party of cyclists sharing the chopper. Sometimes it was the hare and the tortoise as we were carrying all our worldly possessions. They weren’t, having theirs transported ahead by arrangement. We were tougher!

The colour of grey water evaporated into a deep blue mediterranean colour, it was beautiful. The valley opened up and the legs did their job. We rounded the top end and parked up outside the tourist salmon shop to purchase a re-hydration drink, a packet of sea-salt chips and a rasberry lemonade ice block to quench the hot dusted saddle sore bodies.

We knew we stunk from grime, sun block, insect repellent and sweat however, we believe the sense of smell helps one to remember the experience when reflecting back on what was.

So too does the smell of lavender soap after you have peeled off the apparel to stand butt naked under a shower washing.

Minding with care the bits that weren’t happy sitting all day!

Ya gotta love this country.

Alps to Ocean – Tent Peg Hitting Rock Was the Common Language Spoken

The Alps to Ocean (A2O) is a route from Aoraki/Mt Cook (the Southern Alps) to Oamaru (the Pacific Ocean) and at just 301kms, is suitable for all ages.

Aoraki represents the most sacred of ancestors, from whom Ngai Tahu descend and who provides identity, solidarity and purpose. However, spending the night at the National Park camp site amongst the tent city … we were the only native Maori or NZ Pakeha to be found. The truest sense of identity and solidarity you could ever get. The sound of hammering in tent pegs frequently finding rock just beneath the turf was the common language.

The 70,111 hectare park houses the longest glacier in NZ as well as our tallest peak at 3,754 metres and it was first summited in 1882. The mountain peak that is. The first women climbed it in 1910 wearing a skirt, leggings underneath and hob-nailed boots … they built them strong in them days!

Alpine scree weta are found living at altitudes of more than 3,100 metres in the park and they have an anti-freeze chemical in their bodies, which allows them to survive over the winter when everything around them is frozen solid.

We wish we did too, Taking our lite-sleeping bags was a great idea sitting in the comforts of ones home at the time. When the mercury fell below zero and even though the moon was at it’s fullest, we both woke up during darkness to put on just about all our clothes we were going to be carrying to help us with warmth as crunched up in the phetal position only gave partial hot spots.

Peter Dickson became the first person to mountain bike off Aoraki/Mt Cook in 1986. He carried his bike to the summit in pieces, assembled it, and rode it off. Wasn’t long before he got a puncture from a crampon and realised he had left behind a spare tube and repair kit. Yup!

Before we laid our bodies down onto the bedrolls once more – the last time was on the North Island Te Araroa; we had time to stretch the legs and wander the pathway to the first lake. As sun set, the sound of water flow below and the odd crack of ice from above had us excited that we were about to tick off another adventure opportunity to explore this place we call home.

A2O – here the Rurus go!

20/3/17 A Leaf from the Maple Visit – Two of Them

From the blog post 1/7/16 Licking Limes, Vermilion Bay to Wabiggon – 68.1. kms

“It’s Canada Day here in the land of the Maple Leaf today.

After yesterday’s acclimatisation to the inclines and declines, we encountered a number of folk who made the day seem to go so much faster yet taking longer.  But it wasn’t over yet.

As we came out of the local store, up rode another cyclist.  Her name was Sheri and she too was going in the opposite direction.  Marcus (out other biker mate up ahead of us) had told Sheri about the Kiwi’s on a tandem so it was like we just picked up a conversation like long lost friends versus being total strangers.  So much so that we all purchased a beer (or Claire a Licking Lime) and microwave dinner each, went back to the hotel (Sheri booked in also) and spent the remainder of the sunshine rays conversing about life, blended families, dreams and sore arses.

What a fantastic way to celebrate Canada’s birthday with special people met.

Must have been a little de-hydrated somewhat as we didn’t see the fireworks go off as part of the festivities.

Just the bottom of the eyelids.”

Who would have ever imagined that this one encounter with a total stranger would have the same person whom we now call a friend, sitting in our lounge down under in the land of the long white cloud?

Sheri is visiting New Zealand and has been cycling the landscape of the South Island.

And to think that Marcus from the same blog post had laid his head down on our lounge floor only last Thursday, just four days before!  He too has been cycling the landscape of the North Island.

A couple of maple leaf visitors of special people met where encounters began on the other side of the planet to now be rubbing noses in our part of the world.

Cheers Sheri and Marcus for visiting – it was just magic to see you both again.

Keep coming people!

24/9/16 Yarmouth Layover: Living Loving Laughing Always, The Rurus.

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A cold wind chilled the bones when stepping outdoors. It was booting it in from the North, an Artic breeze. The sun was shining and there was certainly warmth when you found some form of sheild. Downtown Yarmouth had music heard from the pavement, they have attached speakers to the front of buildings all along the street above shops. Dancing like no one was watching to the bellow of an Eagles song is what we did. Okay, Claire wiggled her hips where I was full on dancing! More like prancing more than anything.

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A farmers market with local produce; Claire tried apple pie whiskey which tasted like apple pie, except it was whiskey. We had spotted the freshly baked chunky steak and mushroom pie stall. The lips moistened at just the sight of them however, they lost out to a Bison Bagel Burger. That was lunch with a capital ‘burp!’

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The Informtion Centre didn’t have any brochures on Portland, Maine in the US. Funny that. They did have a google maps of Canada on a 42inch screen that we could enlarge; we traced our route ridden to re-live aspects of the experience and from experience, that will not change for years to come. What did come was the question as to when does the adventure end and our just being on holiday begin?

It kind of has. The photo’s we snap nowadays are lovely with accompanying blog posts. Reminders still of our touch points with the landscape, nature or humans. There will always be something to take a photo of or blog about. I’ve loved both the click of the camera button AND the clicking of the keyboard keys.

Even if there wasn’t a ruddy Moose seen in the raw!

Also at the Info Centre, there was a bunching of television screens on a wall rolling over all types of pics of the land of the Maple Leaf. We sat and watched with heads darting up and down and sideways to ensure the eyes could affix to the screen shots being displayed. The only words echoed were, “we’ve been there and seen that, remember?”

Can you imagine the ‘wow’ emotional feeling that ran through the bodies. There were plenty as we gazed. They are the best emotions. Collect those and we experience some form of contentment or fulfillment. Being happy. Life that has had purpose, substance and meaning.

Not even a chilling wind could steal that feeling from us as we wandered toward home.

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Arrrr, home. Back to New Zealand for a rest! Even that beckons a new adventure with no house or car to return to. Pfft, we have our tent and tandem!

Before that though, we have some friends to catch up with in New York that we met nine years ago on a Fijian Island in the Pacific – Joan and Kevin. Facebook has allowed us to stay in touch. Now after all these years, there will be a physical touch. I hope I wrote that well.

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Many thanks to those wherever you are who have made our cycle across Canada by tandem an unforgettable experience – whether you supported from afar or in the flesh. It’s been one hell of a journey. A very enjoyable one.

Happening upon a little fashion pin ‘Live Love Laugh’ concludes blogging from Canada: Life is short. Break the RULES, FORGIVE quickly, KISS slowly, LOVE truely, LAUGH uncontrollably, and NEVER REGRET anything that made you SMILE.

Or GRIMACE.  That bit I’ve added in!

Living Loving Laughing always
The Rurus

23/9/16 Digby to Yarmouth: I Think I Will Leave It At That!

Route 203 of Nova Scotia had it all!

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Road conditions like Newfoundland; squashed Porcupines like New Brunswick; patriotic loyalists like Quebec; inland lakes like Ontario; barns like Manitoba; deer crossing the road like Saskatchewan; horse and cows like Alberta; and … and … a Black Bear on the roadside like British Columbia.

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It was just unreal that this stretch of roadway in Canada that we drove today in solitude of other traffic (it was off the beaten track) had every experience from every Province we encountered when cycling across.

It’s hard to describe why this happened; it leaves me dumbfounded as to what to write, how to commute to words the surreal, even freakiness about it.

We are now in Yarmouth till Monday when we board a ferry and depart Canada for the US.

Haven’t seen a Moose … but we saw a Bear.

I think I will leave it at that.

22/9/16 Digby to Brier Island & Return: Lot’s of Seagulls Do Swimming Lessons Close By.

 

 

 

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At the very end of the finger of land known as Digby Neck you will find Brier Island. Just 6.5 km long and 2.5 km wide, the island is located on the Atlantic Flyway, a major migration route for seabirds and shorebirds. Everything must have flown the coup as we only saw seagulls.

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Salmon graze just off the shores in sea farms. Lot’s of seagulls do swimming lessons close by.

The island is also an iconic whale-watching destination however, all the boats were fully booked and so we ate our sandwiches sitting on the grass squinting the horizon for that one in a million close shore breach under the North Point Light House over looking the Bay of Fundy. And seagulls.

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dsc06891-1280x853On Long Island, we walked and climbed down to the cliff edge to see a narrow column of basalt balancing on it’s rock perch. They call it Balancing Rock! Funny that. Seeing a small snake walking to the thing had Claire jump twenty feet straight upwards. Me seeing the bloody thing on the way back had me do the same! Harmless they are but christ almighty, we could see Halifax from the full height catapulted upwards!

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The evening spent chatting to volunteers working at the hostel fuelled the passion to fall in love with the industry. The chatting with the new arrivals just made it more romantic. As they were starting five months of travel, we were nearing the end. It was a fantastic way to both nuture and honor our inner nomadic tendancies having surrounded ourselves with reminders of our journey. Equally, by sharing our knowledge we were able to offer a gracious hand up to the newbie nomads, sparring them the same rookie mistakes we made.

Digby – a ‘glad we made the effort’ kind of stop over.

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21/9/16 Bridgewater to Digby: But None Of The People Conquered.

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1605: Port Royal is founded, the first European settlement north of Saint Augustine, Florida.
1607: Jamestown, Virginia is established as the first permanent English settments in the United States.
1710: Soullard House is built.
1710: Port Royal is renamed Annapolis Royal after it’s capture by the British.
1781: Sinclair Inn established.
2016: The Rurus stand inside the former Sinclair Inn (the second oldest wooden building in Canada) at Annapolis Royal.

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Most of the structure is original and displayed to give one some understanding of things were built back in the day of Cowboys and Indians. Upkeep, repairs and maintenance are done with traditional wood carpentry construction methods, it’s not the modern day D-I-Y house makeover dream project. The ghosts of the past are rumoured to haunt the place, we swear we heard an un-explained faint clunking of pewter tankards drift out from the exposed wall boards!

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Fort Anne is the oldest national historic site in Canada. Over 3,000 years ago, the Mi’kmaq used the site as a stopping point in their voyagers. The site was also the centre of early European colonization and settlement. Today, the parapet landscape sits at peace with remnants of buildings and cannon placements to salute Canadian’s forefathers. What is haunting is that we have never seen a native bronze monument to recognize a people who owned the dirt first. There are heaps of British and French ones who were the conquerors; but none of the people conquered.

It’s been like that right across the Maple Leaf.

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Digby overlooks the picturesque Annapolis Basin and is home of the world famous Digby scallops. We are now on the opposite side of the Bay of Fundy whereby the ferry service that connects St John in New Brunswick has been running for over 200 consecutive years. It also has the low and high tides except this evening, the tide was in.

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The sail boats meandering out front on the harbour waters were barely moving, that’s how calm, clear and crisp it was.

Huh, bet you the scallops below were hiding, haunted by the sight of a boat hull!

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