Monday, 11 February 2013
Onto the Canterbury Plains
Via Cheviot to Oxford
The next day we made an early start and continued along the coast. We did actually see a small pod of about a dozen dolphins from the road. At Oara we came to a Transport Cafe and ate a huge breakfast; this was to cause us problems later. Now we left the coast and had to ride three steep hills to get to our destination, Cheviot. These were my first real hills and it was slow going on a heavy stomach. From time to time I was forced to get off my bike and rest. Still a couple more weeks of this and I'd be able to ride up anything.
On the third hill I met a German travelling northwards and he was resting on the side of the road. We chatted for a while before Vic caught up. Lunch was at a place called Parnassus; just a string of houses and a shop. When we reached Cheviot we camped in a site behind the pub, before showering and heading off for the cafe and an ice-cream. Here we met two Americans riding recumbent bicycles. they looked pretty comfortable; but going uphill? We were assured that they were efficient, if a little too difficult to ride at first. They also told us about a camp-site on a beach a few miles away, but we were already settled in and decided not to move. That evening we spent in the bar of the pub. It was a busy Saturday night and we chatted to a few of the locals.
The next day's ride took us to Leithfield Beach. This was a comfortable days ride, with one steep climb into Greta Valley. We had lunch at a pub with a pnaramic view and then rode down a long winding hill onto the Canterbury Plains at Waipora. The camp-site was a quiet spot, and the beach itself was grey and desolate.
The following day was hot and sticky. probably in the 80's. The road to Christchurch was getting busier and busier before we could find a suitable side road to travel. As we entered a small town a man, who told us he was 60 years old, rode along side of us on his racing bicycle. He told us about his touring experiences, especially a trans-Canadian ride he'd done a couple of years ago. We were suitably impressed. In the town, called Rangiora, we had breakfast and then Vic and I went our separate ways. Vic had to get back to Christchurch to visit friends and catch his flight back to Australia. I wanted to avoid the cities for a while and decided to cycle around the edge of the Canterbury Plains on my way South.
After lunch I continued my ride along quiet country lanes, mostly flat, but occasionally rising a little to give me a view across the plains. I passed several small-holdings selling soft fruits and arts and crafts; eventually I bought some white peaches and a couple of home-made cards. In the early afternoon I arrived at the camp-site at the entrance to Ashley Gorge, and spent the remainder of the afternoon lying in the sun reading. seemed strange to be on my own again. May be this is why I decided to take the next day off! Though I did ride into the nearest town, Oxford, to buy some groceries and stamps. This was only a twelve mile round trip. In the afternoon I took a walk up the gorge itself; very quiet and tranquil. Before getting an early night I did my first laundry and also decided to move into a cabin as rain was forecast. Good move as it turned out.