Even though today was only about 50km of cycling, we were still up and on the road before the sun came up. The plan for the day was to cycle down the Clutha Gold trail to the village of Beaumont, and spend half a day doing pretty much nothing. Both Chris and I had a pretty rough night sleep, so the decision was made to roll into town and have a coffee before proceeding back down the trail - after all it wasn't like we had to be anywhere in a great rush.
The sunrise at Roxburgh revealed that the rain we'd arrived in yesterday wasn't going to continue today.
Low cloud and dry roads on a strangely warm autumn morning.
Most places in town were closed at this hour on a Sunday morning - expect of course for the excellent Rox cafe.
Chris declared that seeing as though it was Sunday morning, we should treat ourselves with a full cooked breakfast. It was a great call - I rarely eat extravagant breakfasts on a cycle tour, and this one was just majestic.
On our way to the cafe we discovered a broken spoke on Chris' bike. I made him a deal that I'd fix it for him if he bought me another coffee. 5 minutes later the old Fuji was good to go, and I had earned my $3.50 coffee - not a bad hourly rate of $42 for being on a cycle tour!
A collection of futuristic automatic toilets and sculpture on the main street of Roxburgh. Pretty sure this is EXACTLY what the dunnies on a starship would be like.
Back on the road. The cloud wasn't lifting as fast as I expected, and there was still a bit of a damp feel in the air.
We rejoined the Clutha Gold trail directly on the edge of town. For the last few days we'd enjoyed car-free riding on the Otago cycle trails - it was awesome to be able to go pretty much straight from bunk to trail with only a few hundred metres of quiet country road to deal with.
The Roxburgh trailhead. Still cold enough to warrant wearing the wet weather jacket for added warmth.
Autumnal colours as the sun started to melt the cloud away.
Every now and again the trail would pass through dark leafy forests. I half expected those skeleton ghost bird riding things from Lord Of The Rings to pop out at any moment.
Kiwi ingenuity example #1: Chris fashions a mudguard from the box used to carry the Chinese takeaway home the night before.
As with the rest of the Clutha Gold trail, the surface here was smooth, grippy and well drained. I don't know how much was spent on building this trail, but surely it must have been well into the millions - it really is a phenomenal piece of trail work.
We were both riding quickly today, however as we approached the small town of Miller's Flat I could see Chris was in a lot of pain. He was having trouble with both his knees and although he wasn't letting much on, it was apparent he was in a world of hurt. I wasn't feeling to good myself - I was physically OK but mentally agitated for no good reason. I figured I must just be drained from not sleeping well the night before, but I was still in a rage at nothing in particular by the time we hit town.
Apparently since the trail opened, business in Miller's Flat has picked up so much that the store opens seven days. We stocked up on ibuprofen, tins of Coke, chicken chips and woolen socks.
Kiwi ingenuity example #2: Chris fashions a pair of knee warmers from the socks he just bought at the shop.
Can't tell the difference between the fancy ones and the roadside-made ones!
I loaned Chris my rain pants to try and get some heat into his aching knees. Hilariously, they were the same colour as his jersey. And even more hilariously they were too short in the leg. Stylish.
We left Miller's Flat with a renewed sense of energy and purpose - particularly now that a tail wind had sprung up and we were flying along the trail.
Surveying the Clutha River.
In the incredibly scenic Beaumont Gorge, the trail builders had even gone to the trouble of building a bike-only trail high above the 4WD track by the river, offering amazing views and more car-free cycling.
The best shadow I cast during the whole NZ trip. We certainly didn't cop a huge amount of sunshine most of the time.
Exiting Beaumont Gorge via the Clutha Gold trail.
Cycling the trail right into the tiny village of Beaumont.
Our destination for the day - the Beaumont Hotel. It's literally the only place in town, and a classic kiwi country pub in the Otago tradition.
Bright and warm pub room at the Beaumont Hotel. A heater, electric blankets, spotlessly clean, free WiFi, with the biggest and most comfortable bed I've ever slept in, all for just $50 a night. Plus the publican even insisted on doing all our laundry for us!
Given it was only 2pm when we got to Beaumont, we tried to make the most of the day and went for a walk down to the river. However the lure of the pub soon became too great, so we headed back inside to spend the next 6 hours sitting by the fire in the bar.
"The friendliest pub in Central" - yeah I reckon that's a fair call actually.
Our view for the afternoon as we sat in the bar reading the paper, looking at maps, writing journal notes and generally having a blast wasting time.
Chris looking thoughtful - possibly contemplating his shitty day on account of his knee pain.
My bad mood of earlier in the day was all but forgotten as I tucked into a pizza and beer combo.
Overall, it was a bit of a strange day with a strange feel. The trail and scenery were superb, and the Beaumont Hotel was just an amazing place to stay - a must-stop destination for anyone riding the Clutha Gold trail. However since setting off from Roxburgh I'd felt a bit agitated and tired, and I know Chris certainly felt the same. It took us most of the afternoon to shake that feeling, so sitting still in the bar at the Beaumont Hotel while our respective moods washed over us was probably the best way to shake our negativity and prepare for our transition back to actual road riding the following day. Maybe it was weighing on my mind that this little tour was coming to an end soon - I resolved to make sure I stayed in the moment and enjoyed things as they happened. After all, our tour ride wasn't over just yet...