Despite being the only guests at the Beaumont Hotel that night, the resident Icelandic chef still went to the trouble of putting on the full breakfast spread for us. As we sat there ploughing through numerous breakfast courses and cups of tea, we surveyed the weather outside. It looked dark. Dark and cold. A very low and thick fog restricted our view of anything more than about 100 metres away. With breakfast consumed and bikes packed, we stepped outside into the cold. I don't know quite how cold it was at that moment, but it surely must have been well below zero - certainly judging from the frost everywhere.
Sun rising through the morning fog at Beaumont. Another Lord Of The Rings scene plays out before my eyes.
As we were leaving, the fog lifted around the pub and the sun blasted through. Somehow, being in the full sun was even colder than being in the fog.
Single lane bridge into Beaumont, complete with cyclist-controlled traffic lights.
Chris unleashing his inner shepherd on the Clutha Gold trail.
Leaving Beaumont, the Clutha Gold trail turns away from the river and heads through farming valleys on the way to the town of Lawrence. Only a few hundred metres from Beaumont it was bright and sunny, with the thick fog still clinging around town.
Scenery like Windows XP standard wallpaper...
Fast and easy riding, hoping it would warm up a bit.
Within half an hour of leaving Beaumont the trail started up a long shaded valley. While the climb wasn't exactly steep, there were a few pinches and switchbacks here and there that required a little bit more effort than I had put in since riding Danseys Pass five days ago.
We rounded a spur on the climb and I saw the road pass over the range high above me. For a moment I was none too amused at the prospect of more climbing - fortunately it turned out we were on another old rail line with a tunnel cut through the hill.
Chris had a light this time, which made it considerably safer / easier than our previous tunnel experiences on the Otago Central Rail Trail.
Last tunnel of the trip = completed.
After passing through Big Hill tunnel, it was downhill through farmland pretty much all the way to the trailhead at Lawrence...
...except for a tiny little switchback climb about 6km out of town.
Can't argue with that!
Last leg of the Clutha Gold trail into Lawrence, through some cropping land.
A cropduster was working over the trail as we approached. We stood there for ages trying to get a good photo. The pilot spotted us and did a super low flyover on one of his turns - so close we could see the carbon buildup on the engine exhaust. It was totally awesome.
End of the Clutha Gold trail and the end of the dirt.
The Lawrence trailhead. By linking together the Otago Central Rail Trail, the Roxburgh Gorge trail and the Clutha Gold trail, we'd managed to ride over 200km of completely car-free trail through some pretty out-there landscapes. I can't recommend these trails highly enough for cycle touring in NZ - absolutely a must-ride.
Back in a busy town on a busy road. A very odd feeling - we hadn't ridden on a main road for the past seven days and it was taking some getting used to the traffic, trucks and buses.
Helmet hair world champion of the world contender.
I hadn't had a liquid breakfast drink for at least a few hours so it was time to have yet another. I must admit I haven't been able to stomach these things since this trip.
Wow - first sign pointing to the end of the trip.
Leaving Lawrence on the main highway did my head in. I wasn't used to the road, and wasn't used to the cars, and wasn't finding it all that much fun. Chris was looking good on the first climb out of town as we headed towards the coast.
The closer we got to the coast, the windier and hillier it became. Despite a strong start out of Lawrence, Chris' knees soon let go over the undulating climbs, and I left him far behind out on the road. I wasn't feeling too bright myself, and just wanted it to be done for the day.
One final monster climb for the day, before a long and fast descent down to the coastal lowlands. At this point Chris was a spent force, sitting crestfallen in the drain by the road. Things were pretty grim up there on top of that hill, until I ripped a massive loud fart that lightened the mood / galvanised Chris into action to outrun the stench.
Only a few kilometres to go along highway 1 into Milton, where we were staying for the night before our final push into Dunedin tomorrow.
Ducked into the first open food business we saw for carrot cake and beer combination.
The sign said "Milton - Town of Opportunities". Probably should have read "Milton - it's not quite right".
We were staying the night at a hostel in town. We were the only guests there. The place was nice enough and comfortable, but much like everything in Milton, something about it was deeply unsettling and unnervingly odd.
The only pub in town was some syndicated sportsbar type joint. After a few beers and laughs in the charmless bar, we wandered into the world's bleakest Chinese takeaway shop for fish and chips. Although by this stage I'd somehow downed four pints of beer and was just looking forward to bed.
Potted plant display in the middle of the floor. Interior decoration Milton-style.
It was another one of those crazy days of cycle touring where the beginning and the end were completely different - seemingly starting and finishing on different planets. We'd started at a remote little village at a cozy pub, now we were in a characterless service town on the main highway in slightly sinister hostel. Despite our pretty bleak surroundings, I was still pumped about tomorrow. We'd be finishing the tour by riding along the coast into Dunedin - one of my favourite cities. I packed up all my gear ready for a quick escape in the morning to get this tour finished off. I turned into bed and commented aloud how comfortable it was - in hindsight that assessment may have been augmented by the 2+ litres of beer I'd drank that afternoon trying to dull the pain of being in Milton. At any rate, it did make for a fun end to a long day.