Brent & Claire Ruru

T.I.M.E. Habits • Minimalists • Travel Enthusiasts ... while the bodies still can and we still have our marbles!

Category: Cycle Touring (page 1 of 2)

10/1/2019 Roxburgh Gorge Trail – 42 kms

Rabbits breed like rabbits on the landscape ridden today.

The number of white arses that were spooked to scatter in all directions as we disturbed their morning ritual, possibly more breeding, was infinite!

However, one had to keep a sharp eye on the dirt infront as the bike chain was manuvered up and down the back wheel cogs – the Gorge Trail had the worst ascents and decents giving us the best view at altitude, and at the waters edge. Don’t be put off by the switch backs (zig zags) because they made the distance covered enjoyable and certainly a worthy and stunning micro-adventure to add to your ‘before I die’ list of things to tick off.

The Roxburgh dam was the first major dam and power station project in the South Island after the Second World War and started it’s generation of electricity to the grid during 1956.

There is a middle section part of the trail where you need to be transported by a jet boat due to a land owner refusing access. Once we reached the jetty from the dam end, we rode back to the car to drive to Alexandra, get back on the bikes to cycle in from the other end.

Alexandra

It was an easier 20 kms return to Doctors Point jetty. Hot, sweat and grime added feeling, smell and taste to the experience.

Riding the trail from the Alexandra end …
Doctors Point Jetty

Bikes back on the car and an ice cream reward before we headed towards the Alps to spend another night sleeping on the ground in the green Kermit, at Lake Hawea Holiday Park.

Towards Lake Hawea we drove.

A huge camping community where we witnessed kids riding without helmets, in bare feet, throwing out smiles of salutations to two total strangers … huh, something we used to see more of back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and late 90’s.

Different breed of rabbits nowadays!

9/1/2019 Millers Flat to Roxburgh Dam & Return – 58 kms

It was 19.4 kms to the township of Roxburgh. Deserved of a pie from Jimmy’s Pie Shop that is reknown for making pretty good pies. Weren’t bad neither – Claire consuming a lambshank one, me a mutton one.

That’s after we each ate a Mince and Cheese pastry one each beforehand!

The trail is very doable for novice and children. We met a family from Auckland who were chaperoning their two young boys and they were loving it. We left them at the pie shop where they had two bags full of pies! Fatties!

And if you think you are aged and worn out, the e-bike is the way to go. The number of elderly (or younger) who over took us or we neared having a head on was just inspiring to see.

We are still of the mindset that our bodies are capable of still doing the hard yards. And just love the feeling at the end of a ride that we know we have pushed the body under our own steam.

The remains of an old river dredge from last century.
History still hangs onto dear life on the Clutha.
The Clutha Dam

It makes for a weary body better nights sleep.

Except if you are on the ground!

Bumping into a 2nd cousin who was staying at the campground was a genuine way to catch up on life in general. Her donating us some apricots was humbling.

Three each on top of the two pies earlier, hmmmmmmm!

8/1/19 Millers Flat to Beaumont & Return – 49.4 kms

It was a shorter drive from Lawrence to Millers Flat where we parked up the car to ride the longer distance backwards to return riding forwards!

By the end of this adventure and how we are doing it, we will have ridden both the Clutha Gold Trail and Roxburgh Gorge Trail twice!

The mighty Clutha River … you could be in Canada.
The bridge across the Clutha to Millers Flat

Out came the tent for a night under canvas.

Unfortunately, one of us slept deflated and it wasn’t Claire. One of the self-inflated mattresses hissed air after a huff and a puff to blow it up. Pin pricks of holes can do that. Notwithstanding, the thing’s we do for lov e!

I had the better hair do in the morning though!

Already hard to get shut eye from being deflated, I think I did an all nighter because of the snoring that came from the fella in the next door tent. Jeez Wayne!

Except his name wasn’t Wayne (and we know a Wayne from next door who could snore).

His name was also Brent.

At least on of us was inflated!!!!!!!

7/1/19 Lawrence to Beaumont

Thinking I was transferring water from a plastic water bottle into my bike drinking bottle, it had a weird smell.

I thought Claire had taken a swig from the plastic water bottle and that her lip balm had tainted the stuff.

Apparently not.

I had tipped her vodka into my drink bottle by mistake.

Diluting her vodka in the process.

Ops!

Lawrence to Beaumont was a lovely meander for 19 odd kms and return. Thousands of sheep dot the landscape, the the trail is easy and the smell of poisonous hemlock abundunt. Meeting a couple of fellow cyclists on our return was very inspiring – the Canadian was cycling on a three speed Raleigh Sports built in 1960 (and she was 57 yrs old); the second couple were a father and son. They were so loaded, we couldn’t lift the dad’s bike off the ground – creature comforts not to be forsaken!

Remember to take a torch though. The Big Hill Tunnel is just under 500 metres in length and, really really dark in the middle. Meaning if you scrap the walls, you have veered off centre.

Just stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel and try not to get too freaked out at what might be growing or living on the walls.

A sip of vodka wouldn’t have gone astray neither.

The Big Hill Tunnel

6/1/19 Our Way Of Defragging After The Loss Of A Loved One

Back over the Rakaia River brigde we went today, once again heading south since we returned back to Chch 9 days ago!

Our step-Mum Marlene passed away after a long health battle. To be with family so as to comfort, support, grieve and celebrate her life was paramount. Our original intention to circumnavigate the guts of the South Island by tandem, postponed indefinitely. We simply didn’t have the time to complete the bums on seat distance after the memorial service in the time we had remaining, before we had to return to work.

So, we drove with mountain bikes on the racks back over the Rakaia River Bridge. Destination, Central Otago and a shortened micro-adventure to cycle the Clutha Gold Trail.

It straddles the mighty Clutha Mata-au River. It’s history is steeped with remnants of a ‘ureka’ gold rush bygone era that once blazened the river banks. And hopefully no Chinese ghosts who once panned for the glistening stuff too.

Our way of defragging after the loss of a loved one.

Best intentions were to tent however, we drove into inclement weather going in the opposite direction so have upgraded to more permanent walls.

We wouldn’t have done this if we were on the tandem. Just hardened up and canvassed it.

Yeah, nup.

RIP Marlene, loved and will be fondly remembered in our hearts.

16/11/18 Waiuta Untouched

Up the back drops of Reefton, exists the history of an old gold mining town called Waiuta.

On the way to Waiuta …
The Old Blackwater School House
Class is in …
The dot marks the spot.

1,578,755 tonnes of quarz containing 732,907 ounces of gold was mined from beneath the surface, where the Prohibition Shaft at 879 metres, was worked to 300 metres below sea level.

The population reached up to 600 citizens during the 1930’s however, a mine collapse during 1951 meant the demise of the extraction and consequently, the end of Waiuta.

Now, remains of what was once a hustle and bustle place, rests at peace.

Remnants of yesteryear also RIP where they have fallen from the weathers of age.

It made for an amazing mountain bike ride up to and around it’s surrounds.

Where the colour of rust thrives.

Untouched.

Chew It, Chew It, Chew It

CHEW IT, CHEW IT, CHEW IT

Cycling the length of New Zealand to raise money for a stranger on a hospital waiting list.

Written and illustrated by Brent Ruru.

 

Finished the manuscript to the next book, illustrations in progress. Thought I would give you a glimpse as to the story captured, weaved and hopefully, not to long before ready to share.

INTRODUCTION

“Bite off more than you can chew and then, chew it”

There were two details I remember.

Cameron our son stating the sentence and, what was said.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to cycle the length of New Zealand.”

It was 2004. He was fourteen at the time.

I had just finished reading No Opportunity Wasted written by Phil Keoghan and was working on identifying my eight steps to getting the most out of life, as challenged by Phil. Thanks to Cameron, the Test Your Limits step now had a purpose. And meaning.

Cycle the length of New Zealand to raise money for a stranger on a hospital waiting list.

That’s it.

Decided.

Writing it down made it official. It gave it substance. More so, a focus.

Naturally, the voice on one of the shoulders was having a great time playing on the thoughts that we were biting off more than we could chew.

However, the other voice on the other shoulder was equally whispering, “chew it, chew it, chew it!”

When instinct pushes us to explore, we push boundaries outside ourselves; when we test personal limits, we push boundaries within us.

And so, we did.

Chew it.

All the other details are captured as follows.

Whatever your boundary, push beyond it.

The chew is worth it.

 

New Zealand Land Bats

Our next guest to be hosted at the Rurus was this fella Eric, from the US.

We had received an email from another FB friend whom we had met travelling in Vietnam to ask if we could connect to share our wisdom of adventuring Aotearoa by bike.  Hell yes, and so we did.

It doesn’t take much to inflate an air bed, set an extra plate at the table, put laundry through the washer, nor share shampoo and soap.  Especially when you have an opportunity to press the flesh with like minded adventurists and spend an evening swapping stories from the bike seat.

Eric touched down in Auckland, then headed north to Cape Reinga at the top of our islands.  His route after that was to follow a Te Araroa Trail designed for two wheels.

It didn’t take us long to be laughing with him as he described descending from the light house on a track that we had taken when we stepped off on our TA adventure, where the track stopped at the bottom of the first decent and then we had to bush bash versus tempt a beach skirt run in-between unforgiving waves.

Huh, Eric did too!  Pushing his mode of transport through soft sand speedily so as not to be sucked out into the Tasman Sea, took some effort and time.  Once Eric reached 90 Mile Beach, he decided to ride under the cover of darkness.

The eyes reflecting from his bike light and head torch had him on edge.  He knew that New Zealand had two mammals, referring to our bats. However, Eric had never ever seen ‘land bats’ before.  Nor whether they were the blood sucking vampire types.

Neither have we.  Ever seen land bats.

And thank god we don’t as well.

They were the furry pest, the opossum!

Our time with Eric was full of tales and banter and laughter, as those sitting around the camp fire telling stories should be like.  Except it was our dining room table.

His first long distance cycle ride was across the US when he moved from the West Coast to the East, just over 7,000 kms taking 2.5-3 months.  It was his way of leaving behind an old life to start a fresh new one.  We were drawn into it having the merit of ‘what was’ instead of ‘what is’.

We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to be inspired by global citizens the likes of Eric.  It keeps our passion to explore our planet more while we still have our health.  And marbles.

His favourite section of the landscape, the Old Ghost Road on the West Coast of the South Island. The trail itself keeps you in the present; it’s majestic scenery takes you to adrenalin heights of emotions literally. Awe and then some.  We have yet to do it.  Later this year before it becomes a coca cola track.  His words of advice, don’t carry the shit he did.  Travel light.

Ironically, his other thoughts on his travels of New Zealand – he wished he had of learnt German before he came down under and, who the f..k invented the #8 wire to fence off the landscape.  It made it nigh impossible lifting his bike up and over!

“It’s our wall to prevent tourists coming to our shores and falling in love with it that they want to come live here” was the response.  Jokingly naturally. It keeps the bigger mammals in their place.

Imagine night riding along 90 Mile Beach and the reflective eyes you encounter in your head light are at shoulder height or taller, versus what you did experience?

Taniwha’s aren’t something you would want to be biking into.  In the dark.  That’s for sure!

Canadian Jibberish

We welcomed another Warmshowers guest landing onto our shores for the first time, Crystal.

She had just spent some rest and recreation in Costa Rica after cycling there from Canada, crossing the borders and then bum on bike seat through the countries of the US, Mexico, Guatamala, Honduras, Nicaragua and finally Costa Rica.

Her time here will be spent cycling south to Queenstown to play and then north to how ever far the weather permits her to explore.

Crystal is Canadian.  And also a Vegan.  How can we not be inspired to converse with this solo adventurist who can cook up a meal with no meat, dairy and the like of stuff that is not Veganish?  And enjoy both.

But wait, there was more.  Tim is also Canadian.  We first met him in a cafe in Red Deer, Canada, when we were visiting another travelling buddy, Charla.  Tim is the Dad of a young fella Jeremy whom we first met on a long boat in-between Thailand and Laos.  Ironically, Charla knew Tim but not Jeremy.  We knew Jeremy but not Tim.  Jeremy knew us and Tim.  You may want to read that paragraph again!

Tim had ventured down under to visit and explore the Kiwi way of life as well.  Equally entertaining to see someone doing something beyond what they have experienced.  Red wine does that to you!

And here we were … just so happened to have two Canadians whom had never met, now meeting for the first time.  And speak Canadian jibberish!

Travelling back from Queenstown over the weekend, we briefly re-connected with Crystal who had cycled to Geraldine from Chch; later in the evening, Tim returned for a couple of days before he departed for Auzzie.

Sometimes we don’t neet to go far to experience what the world has to offer.

Let them come to you.

A 71 Year Old Engelbert

We met Engelbert off the plane having flown from Germany.  Part of his luggage did not arrive – his bike.

Engelbert had come down under to cycle New Zealand.  From Christchurch to the West Coast; up the coast and then inland to Nelson/Picton.  Across Cook Straight by ferry to Wellington and then a northern route to Auckland.

We belong to Warm Showers – a global tribe who host fellow cyclists offering a spot on a lawn to pitch a tent or a spare space on the floor to inflate an air bed.

They can doss down for a night or two – and as the tribe name reads, have a warm shower.

The currency of payment is to share conversation about travel experiences.  Or be a guest out there on the planet and be hosted by the tribe.

We were Engelbert’s introduction to Aotearoa and some kiwiana like a meat pie, a sausage roll, a custard square and weet bix.  Not vegemite, but certainly encouraged to, further up the Zealand.

He was also happy that we didn’t live upside down!  More so, that his bike arrived the day he took his first pedals.

I rode with Engelbert out of Christchurch two days ago, around the back of the air port, passed McLeans Island and Orana Park.  More for to help him get used to staying left as rightside up above the equator, they drove on the opposite side of the road.

He swung a right when we reached Old West Coast Road, I swung left. After a hongi, hug and farewell salutations of departure.

And then he became a speck heading westward.

His yesterdays facebook update …

“Yeah, I did it!
82 km, 1470 meters. The hardest day of the New Zealand tour!”

Engelbert rode from Darfield (or just beyond) to Arthurs Pass.

Quite exceptional for a fella who is 71 years of age.

A meeting of a total stranger with passion to continue to live life to it’s abundance. Inspiring.

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