Saturday, February 24, 2007

Get outa town...

Finally. After nine, count 'em 9, days in hell, otherwise known as Christchurch, I finally got my replacement cashcard, and got the hell outa there. I bid farewell to the lovely ladies at the Middlepark motel (highly recommended) and gave them a box of choccies for being the nicest people and the only ones who didn't steal from me. I made a snap decision on which way to travel back north, and so it was that Arthurs Pass to the West Coast won out. Helping the decision-making process was the fact that Craigieburn was on the way, and I dropped in for a shorter loop than the previous sojourn. I climbed, pushed, grunted up from the other side on singletrack, and was quitly wishing I was on the fireroad, a first! But I quickly found myself at the saddle again, and decided to make the final slog up to Helicopter Hill, which I'd gotten halfway up before. This time I made it almost to the top, but the wind and vertigo conspired against me, so I took in the stunning vistas once more and contemplated the ride down the sketchy ridgeline. If Hans Rey coud do it, then I couldn't. So I did anyway. On a knifes edge, I made it down in one piece, and met a couple of bikers at the saddle, Justin and sorry I didn't get your name, from Melbourne and Hell respectively. Then it was time to raise the fun factor and bomb the singletrack back down to the skifield road, and back to the car.A quick wash in the crystal clear stream and onwards through Arthurs Pass, taking in the awesome sights of Lake Pearson and the Otira Gorge on the way. On the other side of the gorge, something was falling form the sky, drops of some kind of wet substance, the likes of which I hadn't seen in a while, that's right, it's RAIN! Remembering that "it always rains in NZ" jogged my memory. By the time I got to Greymouth (the country's most aptly named place), it was pretty well set in, and for some unknown and strange reason, all the motels had 'No Vacancy' signs lit up. Remembering that there was some cool riding and a country pub just up the road which was mentioned in the Kennett's book, I gave them a call and booked in for the night. Best decision I could've made (getting better at them). And so it was I arrived at the Blackball Hilton. That's right. And the rain was now only a drizzle, there was a cat asleep on a bar stool (and another six, count 'em, 6 around the place, and a dog), $35 for a night, and the promise of an epic ride nearby. Things were looking good.

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