Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I Want to Ride My Bicycle, I Want to Ride My Bike!

The view down to the water from the Port Hills.

One of the joys of my time in Antarctica has been the rediscovery of old loves. Last Tuesday(?), I finally went on a real bike ride. I've been using a bike around town for a couple weeks now, but I haven't been out for a long ride. On the nagging from a friend (Thanks, Betty!), I figured it was finally time to see Lyttelton and Sumner and the best way to do it was by bike.

Cass Bay(?)

I set out on my rigid GT Palomar with road tires on it. It isn't adjusted to my size and it isn't in the best condition, but it is absolutely great for getting around town and superb for being able to have a bike at all. After passing south through Christchurch, I started up Dyers Pass Road into Cashmere which is the long way over the Port Hills. This area reminded me of a more populated Lookout Mountain in Golden, CO. Unfortunately, they don't have Jamba Juice near the bottom here.

Lyttelton Harbor.

On the way up, I decided to take my shirt off to try and get some color back in my skin. I didn't realize it at the time, but that was going to be a mistake. Beyond that though, the slow ride up the hill was everything I wanted a bike ride to be - twisty turns, hard work, able to kick my butt, and spectacular scenery. When I got to the top, they had this old stone house, Sign of the Kiwi, serving up ice cream and cafe lunches. Who can resist ice cream on a hot day before an easy descent? Certainly not me.

Looking towards Evan's Pass.

After the descent, I followed the windy coastline over to Lyttelton. The harbor area wasn't any different than any other industrial harbor except that it is the last place that the cargo vessel heading to Antarctica stops each year before getting to McMurdo. I think it will be stopping there in just over a month.

Mountain biking!

After leaving Lyttelton, I headed up towards Evan's Pass and then got my first chance to mountain bike in almost fifteen months! It wasn't a very technical trail and that was just fine with me. I couldn't have handled anything technical. Any skills I had are really rusty. I have so much respect for the pioneers of mountain biking who didn't use shocks. I was bone rattled after this relatively basic trail.

Sumner Beach.

The mountain bike trail dropped me off in the town of Sumner. I headed over to the beach that I've heard B-Nelson talk about so many times to see what all the noise was about. When I got there and much to my surprise, I saw B-Nelson and Raja. B-Nelson had left Christchurch that morning. I had the impression he was heading towards Wanaka/Queenstown where I'd join him in a few days to go hiking. Rachel was supposed to be on her way to Hanmer Springs. Neither one of them made it and we all just happened to choose Sumner as our spot for the day. Apparently, we just can't get enough of each other. That is winterover bonding.

Me overlooking Lyttelton Harbor from the top of the Bridal Path.

After spending an hour at Sumner, I decided it was time to start my long ride home. I headed for another mountain bike trail a couple towns north. On the way, I found the gondola over the Port Hills. I've been wanting to do that for a couple months now and wouldn't have minded a lift since I was pretty beat anyway. Unfortunately, they don't allow bikes on it. I tried to ride the Bridal trail up to Summit Road, but had to walk part of it because I kept spinning out on the gravel (more forgotten mountain bike skills). At the top, I found more amazing views waiting.

Sumner beach on the right, Christchurch on the left.

Port Hills overlooking Christchurch.

After traversing the Summit Road back over to Dyers Pass Road where I originally came up and got ice cream, I dropped onto a mountain bike trail again. I started to remember how to ride technical sections and redid some to get them right if I messed them up the first time. You would have been proud, Lindsay.

Forest mountain biking!

As I found my way back to Dyer's Pass Road, it was just after 5pm. On my way down the hill, I must have passed no less that fifty cyclists coming up the hill for their after work ride, which was, once again, very reminiscent of Lookout Mountain.

One thing that isn't very reminiscent of Lookout Mountain for me was my new sunburn. Apparently, my short attempt to get some color back in my skin so I wouldn't get so easily sunburned backfired because I got sunburnt. It hurt and it was going to hurt in a few days when I had to start carrying a pack on the trail. Dumb, dumb, dumb. The only good part about it is that I've never had a bike messenger bag tan before. That could be just ridiculous looking enough to be fun.

Bike messenger bag burn (photo by Raj-Dawg).

The most exciting part about this entire ride is that I've fallen in love with biking again. I was looking at leaving New Zealand, but now I'm seriously considering a bike tour down south and then back up the west coast before I head out. More on that coming.


  1. i feel your pain, jamba juice is awesome :) you just made me crave one

  2. were you there the summer i got burnt so bad on the boat to bermuda? YOu can still see the scars everytime i get a little sun on it. Have you heard of this magical item called sunscreen? I think you should consider it seeing as how you have ICE SKIN

  3. Awesome sunburn! :-) Battle wounds to show off.