Last day of our four day trip along the Otago Central Rail Trail, a very windy ride from Hyde to Middlemarch, then making our way by bus back to Queenstown.
Started the morning with muesli, fruit and homemade bread for breakfast then packed to have the bags ready for an 8.45 am pickup. Didn’t get to see Peter on the way out but left about 8.30 am for the drive back to Hyde – a reverse of yesterday’s drive. Amongst the ubiquitous sheep and cattle a surprise paddock of turkey along the way.
Got to Hyde, parked the car, did the ignition-key security-lock dance, reassembled the panniers and luggage onto my bike and went on our way.
Out into ever increasing wind. Wow, what a wind! From the North-west so in from the side, pushing us across the trail and with the odd gust causing both bikes to swerve and lurch in the gravel. I’d have loved to take a photo of Jo & Cam and the tandem leaning at a constant 30° just to stay on the track in a straight line, but couldn’t get my hands off the bars. Shortly before one of the gangers huts we abruptly came toa halt, the gusts so strong they almost tipped us over as we stood on the exposed section of track holding the bikes upright.
It gradually eased off the rest of the way to Middlemarch and was almost calm as we rode in to town. Oddly, the surrounding area reminded me of riding in to Bungendore where my parents live, flat green farm plains, a small town, and a ridge off to the right – but much greener here and today, a lot windier!
At Middlemarch there doesn’t seem to be much of the town focused on the rail trail, we were told that because its the end of the line, most people just arrive here and either leave or start straight away so unlike towns along the middle there aren’t so many facilities. Plenty of old railway infrastructure to look at, and the start of the rest of the line down towards the coast – if we’d been able to schedule our trip correctly we could have booked a trip on the Taieri Gorge railway but it only runs once a week.
We arrived around noon and checked in at the She Bikes He Bikes office as requested – discovered that our transport back to Clyde and on to Queenstown was leaving at 1 pm – then walked around the corner to a café (the café?) for lunch. Poor timing meant we walked in behind a group of almost a dozen from another ride company so there was a long wait and a hurried meal, then that was it for the Otago Central Rail Trail, all over except the bus rides back to the start.
An excellent four days, very easy going and brilliantly coordinated by She Bikes He Bikes, they’ll do as much or as little as you want. If you want you can do the entire trail in a single day – it’d be an interesting challenge, 150km of gravel track with a complete mixed bag of other people around. I think the youngest person we saw on the trail was the one we brought with us, discounting the local kids at Alexandra, school kids at Wedderburn, a tourists in their 20s or 30s, the oldest would be heading for 80 – the availability of e-bikes has apparently increased the average age of trail users considerably! Hire bikes or bring your own, I’d love to come back.