You know what’s worse than riding into a strong headwind that has blown unchecked from the Antarctic? It’s riding into that wind when the last few miles of its journey to reach you have been over herds of sheep. That’s painful riding, bitter cold and the smell of sheep in one annoying package.
The section of the Trail from Hyde to the terminus at Middlemarch is probably the least interesting of the whole trail. There’s a great deal of riding along dead straight track through sheep fields. Knowing that some scenes from the Hobbit had been filmed nearby kept us guessing at possible locations. And the site of the Hyde rail disaster, the second worst in NZ history, provided the opportunity for some speculative forensics.
Other than that the day just involved clenched teeth and riding, riding, riding. The fact that I had an agonising painful knee added to the misery for me, but it wasn’t a lot of fun for anyone. We were pleased the boys just dealt with it without complaint. In fact after a while Declan seemed to relish pushing into the wind as fast as he could and then waiting for us to catch up with a triumphant smile on his face.
Finally we came to Middlemarch and could, some 160km after first mounting them, hand our bikes back and return to walking. We are it must be admitted walking a little funny though – all those kilometres on bikes and horseback have left their mark.
For those who come after:
We arranged the whole trip through shebikeshebikes, here’s the review. We emailed back and forth a few times, and they hired the bikes to us, and organised the rest of the itinerary (accommodation, bag transport, curling, etc.). A great way to do it, especially if you don’t want to be part of a group tour. We met a lot of the same people each day on the tour, although we were at the slow end of things (3-4 days is more usual). We could have easily done it in four days, but five was very nice and relaxing, and gave us lots of time in the afternoon for hanging out.