Thursday, I made the mistake of wearing jeans for the trip up to Timaru. It turned out to be stinking hot & Dad & I spent the afternoon traipsing around houses – it turned out that the first one we looked at was the best & Adele & I are now in the process of buying it together for her & another doctor flatmate to live in. After a trip to the accountants, which was pretty much an excuse to talk about mountain-biking in the North & South Islands, it was off to pick up Adele from work (where she had the tragic finding of no air-con in the hospital) & back out to the chosen house to give her a look. Having concluded that house-filled afternoon, Adele quickly packed for the weekend & it was back to mighty Oamaru (mmmmm roast).
More unpacking & repacking later, we managed to leave on time on Friday morning for the trip down to Dunedin. On the way we stopped & looked at the farm that is being cut up in to lots & Mum & Dad intend buying one & building on it for their retirement (if that ever happens). With mountain & estuary views, it’s a nice spot – although it maybe a little cold that far south. While Mum was at an appointment & Adele picked up her gown, Dad & I did the honourable Pheasant thing & read the paper. That exhaustion over it was a rush to check in to our rooms, get flashed up & then back to the university for an appointment with a photographer. Lots of photos ensued, thankfully not too many with me in them. In between Mum giving & gleaning photography tips, there were plenty of us looking suitably proud – a shame we never got one of the clock tower without a pesky red car in front of it. More rushing around as Dad & I hurried out to the airport to pick up my Uncle flying in from Australia & Adele got ready for the med. ball that night. Having arrived at the airport, we quickly realised when there was no sign of Geoff that we had no idea which flight he was on, which airline he was flying with or even if he had come direct from Sydney or via Auckland or Christchurch – so we went to a café. He eventually turned up. Couldn’t go too wrong with a steakhouse for dinner that night, even if we did have to sit in the fishbowl at the front of the restaurant.
We made it to the Pillars of Hercules with all bikes in tact (bar ends excluded). The ride started in the drizzle over the new swing bridge, which is so high you can't really see the Pillars, and then proceeded to climb (mostly gradually) for a good twenty minutes through really nice bush (its attraction also due to it sheltering properties). Coming in to a clearing we were all of a sudden sitting on the side of the windy part of the Desert Road & it sure was raining. Due to it being a weekend & miserable weather, there was only light traffic so as we proceeded to get soaked riding up the rest of the windy part we weren't knocked over by any stray cars or trucks. Reaching Tree Trunk Gorge it was downhill for six kilometres, which got us even more drenched, before reaching the start of the shared track.
The track itself was a nice gentle gradient down, not too technical & a lot of fun. It was generally pretty wide for the first descent & the track was covered in lots of small leaves. A chilly ford crossing later it was a pretty good climb up for five or ten minutes - which had all of us walking at various stages. The final piece of track back to the car was more technical & still very enjoyable. After loading up & getting out of our wet clothes it was off back to Rotorua & then Te Puke. Sunday was much less traveling for the ride - a trip over to Rotorua with Brendan & Richard - & a much easier ride - a cruise around A-Trail, Tickler, Bunny Jugs, Rollercoaster (surprisingly overgrown at the start - just shows how popular the shuttle is), Dragon's Tail & the Exit out. A bit of test match watching back at the Wilsons before on the road again home.
With working Christmas Eve & Christmas night shifts, Christmas this year has been a bit of a write off - but I did get a good Christmas dinner at Doug's parents' place (thanks), which meant I didn't need to eat again well in to last night's shift. The Peace has had a upgrade in the forks department - thanks to my first TradeMe purchase in ages - I no longer have to ride a fully rigid bike when I want to go for the one gear option.