We have really gotten into our bike touring grove over the last week. We have made great headway into efficiently packing (we have sent home a few things we didn’t need too), meal planning and shopping, finding “freedom camping”, aka free camping and getting our bodies accustomed to bike touring rigors. Maggie, Felix and I have been loving our new bike touring life style. We wake up around 6:30, thanks Felix, Maggie does a walk or Yoga, I do a run, we eat breakfast and and hit the road around 10:30-11:00am. We bike for about 2hrs while Felix usually takes a nap and then stop for a later lunch along the road somewhere for about an hour. After lunch we hit the road for another 2-3 hours and then stop for the day. We stay some of the time at “Holiday Parks” which are basically like KOAs located in the small towns of NZ and the rest of our nights on public (sometimes private) land by lakes, rivers or streams.
The weather has been pretty good so far. We have seen temps between the 40s and 70 degrees as an average with a few days a bit hotter. The food has been really pretty good, much better than I expected really. I sort of expected food to be like it was in England, very boring, but there is more diversity here it seems with regard to selection and variety of flavrouful goods. The food certainly has way less crap in it than in North America, which is wonderful, but the cost of food is much higher along with Beer and Wine. A six pack of beer averages around $15 and a bottle of wine is around $15 with some exceptions that are on special ($8-$9).
The lakes have been amazing in NZ. Tekapo and Pukaki were massive (like 30K long) with nearly no one there and virtually NO boats. Most all the bigger streams and rivers along with the big lakes have the wonderful aqua blue, emerald color from the glacial till. The Southern Alps have been a stunning backdrop to our biking and we decided to really get into the mountains with our trip up to Mount Cook Village. Mt Cook is NZ’s highest peak at 12,300ft. The mountain is amazing to look at with all the permanent snow and ice on the steep rocky faces. The most impressive part of Mount Cook is that the base altitude is around 9,000 feet below the peak. For example, Pikes Peak, which has the biggest altitude difference from base to peak in Colorado, is only 6 or 7,000 feet difference.
After Mount Cook, we headed towards Queenstown. Between Queenstown and Mt Cook is Linidi’s Pass and at about 3,000ft, it was something we were very anxious and a bit nervous to face. Carrying well over 60lbs of gear each, biking up mountain passes is no joke. While the pass doesn’t compare to the enormous climbs of the Rockies, it was a huge challenge for us. Maggie and I would have been a disaster biking Linidis just a week before as our biking fitness wasn’t there. Lindis proved to be a huge undertaking, but we did it with no walking and only one real break.
We were excited to head to Queenstown, as we had heard it was an exciting town with a lot of outdoor adventure close with a fun, young community. We had heard Queenstown was NZ’s party town, we had heard it was “Friday night, every night”, we had heard it was like Boulder, we had heard it was way to touristy… so it was time to see what it was about. Unfortunately, Maggie and I were not able to take advantage of the night life as my race was only a few days away and Felix isn’t much for late nights, but we did have a couple drinks. The town isn’t that big, but does have a bit of a big city feel to it. There are TONS of adventure centric businesses in Queenstown and it is a bit touristy, there are a lot of youngsters running around pretending to be rock stars, but overall the beauty of the town and great energy makes it a great place. There are all sorts of crazy things to do in Queenstown…. massive swings, bungy, jetboating up canyons, canyoneering, mountain biking, skydiving, skiing, backpacking, etc… and the Remarkable mountain range are just that. The lake which Queenstown sits on is huge, with clear water and has an almost ocean bay feel to it. I don’t know if we would drop everything and move to Queenstown, but it certainly is a great place.
Bike touring for 2.5-6 hours a day and running has been an adventure. Biking and running the first week wasn’t all that bad and I was able to keep training close to “normal” with only a bit of extra fatigue, but the second week and third has started to take a toll. I found that I had to pull the throttle back a bit on both my recovery day and long run. I also was just worn out at the end of the day and eating more than I have ever in my entire life. I eat enormous meals and crave fatty foods more than ever. I have been eating peanut butter and baked goods like crazy as “snacks” and consuming massive amounts of chocolate (good chocolate is strangely cheap here). Luckily I am now tapering and we have arrived in Te Anau, where my race is this Saturday, so I can really recover. I feel pretty good, but I have certainly had a different training situation the last 3 weeks. Very much looking forward to seeing the Kepler Track, meeting local runners and having a solid race.