Christmas is done 🎄 and I’m keen to be back on my stead 🚴♂️ before the New Year.
I first set about swapping my ever-faithful Schwalbe Marathon tyres for Continental Travel Contacts. These I’ve dragged all the way from the UK, so I’m dam well going to use them! Not the best idea I’ve had, just been a pain hauling the extra weight, but more importantly, the space they take up in my rear panniers (folding type). My plan 🙄 is to explore the lakes and mountains on them.
So here we are, a re-greased bike and new spankly tyres. Lets rock!
I set off up the Kawarau Gorge towards Queenstown, stopping about 10 km’s out of Cromwell at Goldfields panning and jet boating layup. Already the traffic on this narrow, winding road is overly excessive. Every man and his sand-fly is out this pre-New Years weekend! The traffic is just plain nuts 🏎️ I’m not feeling comfortable at all with it’s proximity. I stop to take stock as to whether I carry on. It’s another 40 km’s of this to Arrowtown. Destination for the day.
It’s not always an easy thing to turn round, but one thing I’ve learnt as a pilot 🛩️ if one has any doubt, don’t carry on. It’s not clever, and taking any kind of risk with two-ton vehicles squeezing past behind, at speed, plain stupid. It’s like waiting for the shark 🦈 attack … you won’t know about it! Especially, when it’s holiday makers who’ll not be used to their cars/camper-vans and the road. I turn around. It feels right 👍
The next day I make headway, and attempt a route over the Nevis Range ⛰️ The road snakes through the small village of Bannockburn. Quaint.
A small task now of climbing up the Nevis. 4WD country. So expecting my new tyres to pay back. We march on as anything is better than vehicles circling me.
A few 4 x 4 past me on the ascent. The climb is steady, but not too arduous. I’m still in the saddle, just!
A German guy catches up with me as I dispense with a bit of air from my tyres, and then promptly replace the air! He’s amazed I’m attempting the Nevis with a laden bike. I’m having my own doubts too, but don’t tell the Bosch 🇩🇪
It all then turns pear-shaped! 🍐 The road (more track really) goes nearly vertical. The bicycle now becomes a true push-bike in the sense, as that’s about all I can manage. Even with good touring shoes (Gearne Vega’s) with Vibram soles, I’m slipping under the loose dirt.
After finding shelter out of the wind, I indulge in a spot of lunch. Along with taking shots of the valley below and Cromwell. I would struggle to get a tent up in this, with also the possibility of losing something to the wind, never to be seen again. I then meet my fellow German cyclist 🚵♂️ as he’s on the way down. He’d been attempting another route from the peak back down, but said it was too windy with the cliff dropping away. I’m not even at the top. He also says the top is blanketed in dark cloud and blowing a hoolie 🌬️ (my words not his!)
Once again, bugger this, and I start my descent. Now, with the sheer gradient plus a weighted bike, my brake blocks and rims take a hammering. Also, my pannier racks and fittings feel like they’re going to snap with the undulation under tyre. In hindsight, not quite my best idea 💡
For once, very glad to be off the gravel and the sweet-sweet sound of bitumen. ‘Again’, a leisurely ride back to Cromwell ensues. Bliss!
The Travel Contacts were fine, but I feel my Schwalbe’s, with a bit of air let out would’ve performed better.
The Travel Contacts are 1.75 thickness compared to the Schwalbe’s 1.5. With the Contacts I did notice a bit of wobble 😲 with weight at speed on the front. The Schwalbe’s certainly hold the road better and definitely give more rigidity to the wheel with their wire rim.
The Schwalbe Marathons are duly back in their rightful place. I hope to sell the Continentals through ‘Trade Me’ here in New Zealand (equivalent to eBay).
So where to now? Well, the next day I had an offer of nine-days work back at the The Catlins backpackers in Owaka. So there I’ll head in due course. Why? Well it seems like a plan!
I’ll NOT discuss my route, as I seem to have trouble keeping to a route plan! My cycle touring 🚴♂️ history is littered with it, ‘Cornwall‘ as an example! So miles first under tyre, then yarn about it afterwards!
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