Downhill Slowly

Jay on the Tekapo Canal trail.

Jay on the Tekapo Canal trail.

After the last two days on the road, I thought it is appropriate to talk about wind. We were well warned that there would be wind in New Zealand.  We had some brief exposure to the infamous headwind on our ride back from Akaroa and again coming into Lake Tekapo.

Riding the Tekapo Canal

Riding the Tekapo Canal

But, we really got to KNOW the wind on our way from Lake Tekapo to Twizel along the Tekapo Canal.  The route (not root) we took was along the Tekapo canal service road which is only open to pedestrians and bicycles.  As we were heading in the downstream direction, we expected to be cruising downhill all the way to Lake Pukaki.

Dropping down to Lake Pukaki from the canal.

Dropping down to Lake Pukaki from the canal.

And we did.  At a whopping average speed of 10 km/hour with near dead stops with extreme gusts of wind (up to 70 km/hr).

Which way is the wind blowing? or Drying out your towel.

Which way is the wind blowing? or Drying out your towel.

It was well worth the effort as the views from the canal road were nothing short of spectacular.  The Southern Alps with Mount Cook front and center made up our view the entire way.  The blue-blue sky with soft weight cumulus clouds nicely framed the rugged mountains.  The clear aqua blue water of the canal added one more dimension to the already colorful scene. Not that we needed any reason stop (we never do) – we stopped often to take photos and to simply stand and drink in the incredible scene that only Mother Nature can paint.

Jay and Mt Cook

Jay and Mt Cook

A lovely starry, but cold night in Twizel was followed by a blustery, sunny morning.  Perfect for sleeping in. Around 9 am I made my way to the camp kitchen to make tea and on return, noticed a beautiful rainbow that seemed to be moving towards us. I informed Jay that the rain would be upon us in a few minutes. We rapidly packed up (wet tents are no fun) and made for the camp shelter where we ended up hanging out for the next few hours.  We made some new friends (hello Lena and Arne) and waited out the weather.

Just after noon the sky cleared and it was time to go. We changed our route (not root) and decided to head down the highway to Omarama (30 km) or maybe Otematata (53 km).  The decision was an easy one once we started cycling directly into an average 25 km/hr head wind with gusts of up to 60 km/hr.  The road was once again downhill and we pushed small gears to the tune of 10 km/hour… downhill! Crossing the Ohau River outlet bridge we were nearly knocked off our bikes by the shear force of the wind. When large trucks passed in the opposite direction the wind swirled and the bikes were pushed and then pulled onto the road. We held on tight and did all we could to keep the bikes out of the traffic lanes.  If you are looking for an excellent quad and glute workout- pedal hard into the wind!   It took us almost 3 hours to go 30 km and we were ready for a break in Omarama.

The town prohibition sign. Not to worry the bar was open.

The town prohibition sign. Not to worry the bar was open.

Tomorrow, we will head in a south-east direction, mostly downhill, right along with the wind.  Should be a fun ride!

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