Friday Night gave a glimps into Saturday’s weather.
Waking up to grey skies on a Saturday morning is usually how a lazy day starts off. But, as everyone knows, I’m not your average person who is discouraged by a little less-than-ideal weather, and I saw this as an opporitunty to get out and potentially have the trails all to myself. So, I made some breakfast (lunch; let’s be honest, I woke up at 10:30 and ate late), read for a bit, and set out on a little mid-afternoon excursion. I wanted to explore a trail segment call “Gold Digger” a fair distance outside of town, and knew immediately that it would be void of any traffic once I set out riding to the trailhead with a decent headwind and a wall of rain up the lake moving towards me. Getting out to the area where the trail is located is a solid effort in itself, and in an effort to preserve myself for the “real riding”, I got passed on a climb up the highway by some guy who smirked as he hoofed by…it was pretty funny actually, and I heckled him as he faded up the hill away from me. I finally got out to where I needed to be and began the acent. It was a fun little ride, and provided a nice warm up to what would become the real bulk of the day’s ride. By the time I got to the top of the initial climb, I was soaked – not just, “light rain/a little wet”, try, “Tossed in a lake fully clothed”. The rain had found its way over to me finally, and it seemed quite eager to make itself known; Message received as I wiped rain from my eyes and tried to not drown while on a bike. Thankfully it was warm, my spirits were high, and I was having fun getting covered in terra firma and various types of flora kicked up by the tires. As it turns out, Gold Digger ended at the top of Moke Road, which is named as such because it goes out to Moke Lake. I had seen this on a map, but wasn’t quite sure of the exact proximity of my location to the lake. In the true spirit of adventure, I continued on climbing up into the hills to see what was on the otherside. After confirming my location and the distance to the lakes from a kind driver-by (a guy I’d actually briefly encounted downtown as we had both almost been run-down by the same camper van as we crossed the street), I continued on through the onslaught of warm Summer rain. The staggering scereny was worth the effort alone, as the road wound it’s way down a valley floor between two towering peaks, the sides of which came down abruptly to floor at 45+ degree angles – the mountains are impossibly steep here, I can’t emphasize that enough. These majestic giants were my main company for the day, along with countless sheep and cows, as the route to the lake goes through three different stations [farms].
Out to, and around Moke Lake.
The first of only three people out of cars I met was Sarah From Canada Who Everyone Thinks Is An American; Bummer dude, you’re doing it wrong [you want people to think you’re Canadian, not a Yank down here]. Quite the character, way out of her element, but going for it nonetheless. I was quite amused when she asked if I had walked up the initial hill to get up towards the lake – definitely not! We carried on in opposite directions, and I was keen to find something that would provide respite from the unrelenting rain. As it were, it finally stopped raining right as I found some shelter, but the peace of mind was nice moment in which I could relax and eat before the return trip out of the hills. There is a little loop around Moke Lake which I opted to ride as it finished back on the road, headed back the way I came. It was a qaint twenty minute ride, repleat with excellent views, unnerving vertical drops to the water below, and a reminder than following an impluse can lead to really cool places and provide for a killer afternoon ride. I wasn’t well-prepared for this ride, but experience kept me out of trouble and on track. I had adiquate clothing, enough food and water, and paced myself as to not burn out and safey complete the day of riding. All told, I rode just shy of 28 miles in about 3.5 hours, and over 3,600ft of climbing. Bigger rides like this, with inclimate weather, and no plan are what I love to do. The zen found while zoned out, looking at the surroundings, turning over the pedals is what it’s all about for me. I felt like I was out in the middle of nowhere, without anyone around, and yet, I was only ever a couple miles from a house, town, or camp ground. The serenity of the scenery, the majesty of the back drop, and the mixed elements mades for a truly memorable afternoon out among the pristine landscape of eNZed.