It was a nice treat to wake up ensconced in the luxury of Maniototo Lodge B&B. It was even better knowing that I didn't have to get on a bicycle at all that day. After yesterday's exhausting traverse of Danseys Pass, I had no interest in doing anything other than not much. We prepared ourselves for a hard day of hanging around the small rural town of Ranfurly, doing nothing in particular.
First up, Carol had laid out an epic breakfast spread in the dining room. After an hour of plowing through every type of food on offer, Chris and I felt ready to tackle uptown Ranfurly.
Manitototo Lodge and Ranfurly was every bit as awesome as I remembered it to be from last time I was here. For the last few years whenever I had a bad day and needed a bit of cheering up, I thought of being back at Ranfurly - now it was nice to be back and I was soaking up every sweet moment of my favourite NZ town.
Maniototo Lodge used to be an old presbytery for the nearby church, but has since been converted into luxury accommodation. A lot more work had been completed since my last visit, and I was in awe of the construction skills of Gary and Chris, who restored the place largely on their own.
The Otago Central Rail Trail, running through Ranfurly. We'd be riding out of town this way tomorrow, but for now it was time to check out the historical tractor display in the old red goods shed.
Historical tractor displays - ROCK!
New Zealand railway is what?
You better believe it mister!
At least they don't mind me using the tap in the public toilets, that's the main thing.
Somehow we just kept ending up back at the Ranfurly Lion Hotel.
After drifting around town for an hour or so, we found ourselves in the local cafe up the main street, watching the passers-by. There seemed to be a huge amount of cyclists about, mostly retirees riding the trail as part of organised group tours. We noticed they all had a penchant for leaving their helmets on at all times - in the pub, in the cafe, in the restrooms, in the shops - as if to proclaim to those around them "I AM A PROFICIENT BIKECYCLIST!!", despite looking pretty out of shape. Anyway, after another lap of town featuring the purchase of a dispensary bulk pack of painkillers, we ended up at the pub sometime before lunch. Chris ordered a beer but I held back, not one to drink much anyway but especially not at lunch. He then pointed out though that this wasn't a normal sort of a day, this was a holiday within a holiday - a meta-holiday. And on a meta-holiday anything goes. I had to agree, so I ordered myself a beer and a pizza. With great skillful skill I managed to bite into an oven-hot slice, sloughing all the skin off the roof of my mouth on the thermonuclear cheese topping. Pretty standard behaviour for me when confronted with a pizza, but at least on this occasion I had a beer on hand to put out the fire.
I noticed all of the proficient bikecyclists in town weren't taking full advantage of the standard tourist comedy props on hand.
After a resupply of road food at the local supermarket, Chris happened across a fresh way of carrying a plastic bag that still allowed both hands to be kept free for other tasks, such as giving "thumbs up" or waving.
This group of people rode past, whining about how difficult it all was on the flat, smooth, slightly downhill trail. Chris and I both agreed they were soft as Caramellos.
Back at the lodge we undertook a bit of bike maintenance. We'd put in a lot of work on these bikes before starting the tour, and so far they were holding up excellently.
The clouds on the Maniototo do this cool thing in the afternoon where they want to roll in over the mountains but just kind of sit there and never roll down. To quote Chris, "It looks a bit like shit snow!"
We heard word from Carol and Ross that my old friends Chris and Gary would be back in town at about 8pm. I was thrilled to bits that we'd be able to catch up with them, so to kill a bit of time we wandered back uptown for another beer at the pub (it must have been Dr Hook night judging from the jukebox selections), before packing up all our gear for the following day. Sure enough at about 8pm we heard the rumble of Gary's souped up V8 in the driveway. I was euphoric to see them again after a couple of years of communicating only by email. They were visibly relieved to be back in town too, having been called away on some unexpected matters. Needless to say they were in dire need of some decompression, which was assisted by several bottles of wine and numerous bottles of beer. Think of this particular evening of decompression similar when you accidentally release the tension on a coiled mower starter cord spring - loud, intense, and very hilarious. We all stayed up laughing and talking until we were too physically fatigued and "refreshed" to do anything other than smile at each other. I was exhausted after riding over 400km in 4 days but I was so, so happy to be right where I was.
Sweet relief to be headed to bed. My face and scalp hurt from laughing so much.
Not quite the early bedtime ideal for a big day of riding in the morning, but it was all totally worth to spend so much time with Chris, Gary, lady Chris, Ross and Carol - a bunch of awesome friends.