Date: Tuesday 19 February 2013
Route: Murchison to Springs Junction
Weather: Misty and cool in morning, no wind, very hot in afternoon
Accommodation: Alpine Motor Inn
Woke up at about 4am to go to the toilet (so had to leave the cabin, no ensuite). I was awestruck when I looked up and saw the Milky Way. It seemed much closer than ever and had acquired a few more stars. No wonder our ancestors were so impressed with the stars – there is so much more to see if no city lights.
By the time we got up we were totally in the cloud and it was quite cool. We made eggs for breakfast – the advantage of being in a camp park with cooking facilities – and left quite early at about 8.30am. It was a very scenic ride today – the first part atmospheric in the mist, along the river with mountains rising into the mist on all sides. This cleared around 10am. We passed through some stunning river valleys with wooded hills all round. The countryside is very dry though.
We stopped at a waterfall lookout and met Laurie – a Dunedin born Australian cycling around the S Island. We didn’t stay long to chat as we began to be plagued by sand flies and bumblebees. They have been a problem the last few days every time we stop or go slow up a hill. We think the bees like our bright coloured clothes. I got my second bumblebee sting.
We crossed paths with Laurie a few times during the day as he was also going to Springs Junction.
The hardest part of the ride was a long climb up the Shenandoah Saddle at about 500m but we coped well. The rest of the road was constant ups and downs but manageable.
On the other side of the steep climb we met a couple from Melbourne touring on fold up bikes. We stopped at the cafe at Maruia (we remember stopping here with Elsbeth some years ago). It is the only cafe on the route so the other couple stopped too. We took a table together and had a good chat about our cycling experience. They have cycled on the fold up bikes in Italy and Eastern Europe. They use the fold up bikes as they are easy to take on planes and trains. From their description of Romania it is not a country suitable for cycle touring (note to self for future planning).
Got to Springs Junction around 2.30pm. Laurie had arrived just before us. Another cyclist from NZ arrived later coming from the other direction. That is about the whole guest list in the motel. All are very disappointed to find out that although there is a cafe and a dairy, there is no beer to be had in the town! It seems I am NOT the only one who wants a beer after a long hot ride.
The motel is comfy with a bubbling stream directly outside the units – makes a lovely sound. We brought some food with us, so had a picnic meal outside our room. It got really uncomfortably hot again in the late afternoon – that seems to be the pattern here – and the insects got increasingly aggressive – so we were driven indoors to rest and write blogs etc.