23 Dec

A week in Dunedin

(Written Dec 18) I have been in Dunedin now for a week and it has been quite an adventure. Riding is excellent here. Hills after hills. Steep and relentless. Kiwis dont seem to bother to design their roads for the cars, if they want to have access to a certain point, they just built the most direct way, no matter if it is a 30% grade into a 90 degree turn that might be impossible for trucks to drive. If brakes dont work, well, good luck!

I absolutely love climbing all these hills. It’s a max effort every time. As a miserable descender I have learned to wonder every time I climb a hill, if I could descend it or if it would just create sheer terror. I learned this the hard way when I descended rather cautiously one of the mountains. It became so steep that I could not stop. I saw a sharp turn ahead. Straight ahead was a cliff with an even faster way down. I panicked. After a lot of calming self-talk and talk to my brakes, i finally came to a stop. I ended up walking down the road. Now, i am more careful about the road signs. One sign in particular.

On my 113km ride up a ridge I suddenly found myself in the middle of nowhere. I thought riding in rural Iowa was in the middle of nowhere. Nope. I found a even more middle of nowhere.

Only sheep. Steep descents and climbs. No houses, only an occasional farm. Once in a long while a car. Maybe every hour one human being in a visible distance. On the one hand, it was worrisome. All possible bad scenarios went through my head. But on the other hand what else would I need right now. I have my bike, food and water and I am surrounded by a stunning scenery.

Twice it happened to me that while riding up a steep hill, I took my eyes of the pavement and found 20 cows staring at me from the meadow next to me. When I passed them they started running next to me along. It was really funny!
If I can make any recommendations for one piece of gear to take a long, it would be a very good rain jacket. In those six hours of riding, I got rained on four times. Good brakes is another useful asset to have for reasons stated earlier.

Most of the rides i have done by myself. My cycling friends know that i dont like riding by myself. However, time flies while riding here. There is so much to see. Plus, the hills automatically push me to the limits and do not offer enough breath for a sophisticated conversation. I stayed in dunedin for a week, now travelling west into the southern alps searching for even longer and tougher climbs. Lord of the rings was filmed there.
Kiwis are a nice bunch. From the culture, I feel like i travelled to Europe. Dunedin is also very international. I meet more foreigners (mostly europeans) than kiwis.

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