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Published: March 15th 2014
Finally the top
It was so good to finally reach the top of the uphill stretch. Now for fast downhill.
The stay at Lake Ohau Lodge has been fantastic. The service is excellent and the outlook stunning - looking up to the head of the lake with flat station grazing at the head waters.
After a full breakfast we headed off early on a cool morning. We knew the day would be long so we wanted to get the hilly part out of the way before it warmed up. What was supposed to be rolling at the start followed by a long continuous uphill, turned out to be long continuous uphill from the start. It was a slow grind uphill all the way for nearly 11kms. The description says easy cycling. Yeah, right! Maybe for someone in their 20s or 30s! The track was often very rough with angular stones to bounce you about or slow you right down. However, the view from the top at 900m was spectacular. It looked right out over the MacKenzie Basin, so the effort was worthwhile.
The ride down was fantastic (apart from the rocks to be careful of). We tore and bounced our way down to the end of the Quailburn Road. Flying down through the tussock grasslands was superb and I
At the end of the tussock ride
Here we have completed the tough section and starting onto the Quailburn Road
did wonder at times what on earth were we doing out in the middle of nowhere biking through expansive countryside. Just wonderful. From here we flew along on Quailburn Road which was slightly downhill and then onto tarmac. Yea!
We reached the main road at around 20km where we found a nice picnic area for lunch and a relax under the willows by the Ahuriri River. A coffee called, so we biked on a few more kms to Omarama where we spent some more R&R time.
From Omarama we had another 24kms to ride. Much of it was along a formed bike trail until it dropped down onto the shores of Lake Benmore. The lake is manmade but very pretty. The trail was partially formed along the lake and the parts that were finished were very good but the parts that weren't were just awful - rough, bumpy, rocky and almost impossible at times to stay on the bike. Like a river bed. But, it was very nice scenery.
We were then back onto the main road to bike uphill to the Otematata Saddle. I just love the simplistic description in the brochure - "then it's a
The completed bike trail along Lake Benmore
The trail has a good surface where it has been completed.
short climb up to the Otematata Saddle". Oh boy, that was hard work to keep on keeping on after a long ride (for some) but finally we reached the top and we could see the end in sight - in the distance was Otematata and downhill all the way. BUT, it was into the wind which had arisen in the afternoon. Flying downhill wasn't quite as fast as expected but at least it was easier.
We arrived at our destination at 3.30pm. Thankfully, it was the longest day of 70kms. We have now had 3 quite hard days in various parts. The trail is not a doddle and one does need some basic biking fitness to make it an enjoyable experience.
We are staying at the Otematata Lakes Hotel which is pretty basic but adequate for our needs. The town was established to build the Waitaki River power scheme so much of what is still here harks back to the construction days. It looks as if our rooms might have been revamped workers quarters which now looks out over a lovely golf course. The location is great.
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