Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Otago Rail Trail

We have just had a fabulous weekend in Central Otago with Peter and Edel Kretschmer.  We left home Friday morning and drove to Clyde, the start of the Rail trail journey.  Cars were parked and baggage labelled for the shuttle to deliver to our accommodation each night, Warren collected the passport for stamping at the stations along the way and we started out on our trusty bikes.  Initially it was quite cool and we hadn’t gone far before some of us added gloves and another layer of clothing. These lasted only until the day and the bodies heated up somewhat.  Those of you who have completed this journey will appreciate the beauty that Central Otago, from what was a previous railway line, has to offer and being autumn the colours of course were really spectacular and reminded us of Wyoming in the fall.
We were very lucky that Peter had booked a perfect weather weekend.  Cool mornings, clear days and no wind.  Since our booking was at relative late notice, our days were longer than some as there is limited accommodation along the way. The trail is 155 kms long. We left Friday and had booked the shuttle trip back for Sunday, “be there by 2pm for loading”, we were told, so we really only had two and a half days.  There were plenty of scenery stops and photo opportunities along the way which doubled as rest stops, during the first 2 days. Cycling through the gorges we went through tunnels, over rail bridges and viaducts and also stopped off at historic sites along the way such as the original site of the E H Hayes engineering works (where every farmers wire strainers were made).
We were very pleased to have spent time training for this and it certainly showed. We “smoked” many of those in front of us each day as we maintained a steady pace.  Sunday we left a bit earlier and were on the trail by 0830. With less scenery on this last 55kms we made very good time and covered the distance in just over 3 hours.  What amazed me was that the shuttle took two hours to drive us back to Clyde!  That really put the distance we had travelled into perspective.
Luckily we had no mishaps along the way.  The bikes and the bodies coped well and the satisfaction at the end was huge.  Our passing message -  If you think you will do the “Rail Trail” one day, you need to get on with it, you won’t be disappointed!

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