Cycling to Milford Sound

Friday. Started late, around 10:30. Weather gloomy. Cloudy and low hanging fog. Coldish in some places. Doing fine for the first 10km. Then small hills. Enjoing the ride. Getting to Te Anau Downs and going over small hills. First stop at around 40km mark. Sky clearing up, fog lifting up and clouds disappearing. Perfect weather. Enjoing the valley. Perfect blue skies. Minimal traffic. First crisis at 70km. Running low in sugar and food. By 90km feelling better. Climbing up to the Divide is tough but a great motivator especially that there is a nice downhill that follows. Hitting 60km/h for the first time there on this trail. Slowly climbing to the Homer pass. Not steep, but long gradual climb. 100km mark just next to the bridge real close to the tunnel – celebrating and eating. Pass. Tunnel. Downhill in the tunnel easy – only one car climbing up. Inside cold and a bit foggy. Breathing lots of steam on the other side. Great feeling. Only downhill from there, and less than 20km left. Smiling. Ride down real joy. 20km in about 40min. Must have been a good average 🙂  Hitting 64km/h few times. Could try faster but the back wheel not perfectly aligned and bike vibrates.

Milford Sound. Great feeling of achievement. Late. Touching the ford at 19:00. Total 120.5km in 7hrs 8min. Total 1400m climbed.
Going back to the Milford Lodge about 19:20. Shopping for beans and pasta in the can. Joy sitting eating warm food and sipping ginger ale. After the feast gearing up, warm clothes on, and cycling back uphill. Real slow progress but a nice surpise that not everything was up hill on the stratch between Homer and Milford. Riding about 10km in over an hour, and detour into The Chasm. Camping near the river, roaring water on, the whole night. Dry and warm throughout the night but sore muscles and joints made the night not the best. Waking up multiple times. The sleeping spot quite a squeeze for a bivvy sack and me. Sliding down a bit during the night.


Waking up 6:45 and packing. Quick bread roll and apple and cycling up from 730ish. Real hard work cycling up. Only 10km but drags. Getting to the tunnel at 845. Great, managed to cycle up before the light system in the tunnel is on. Already quite a traffic flowing into the Milford. Tunnel takes about 13min to climb up, but done before 9. Feast on the other side. Bread roll, cheese and some marinated tofu. Apple. Putting warmer clothes on, freezing on the downhills. Great ride down, then climb back to the Divide. Not as bad as I thought. Riding down. Lakes. Sceneries. Weather on the east side of tunnel clears up fast. Meeting with Ula and the rest of the party after lake Gunn. Break.

Going with Ula and girls back to Milford. Visit and walk to the Chasm. Cruise on the boat in the fiord. Awesome. Girls excited about seeing dolphins. Excited about the boat and cruise in general too. Lots of fun, screams, splashing water. Great weather. Windy on the boat, but warmish. Short walk in Milford, visit to the lodge, drive back.

Picking up the bike from the bush at 17:00 and starting the final push. 75km to ride back to Te Anau. Going well. Up and downs but no major longish uphills anymore. Only short manageable climbs. Legs really sore and weak, but it feels every km makes them feel better not worse. Doing well. Two short stops, and one longer at 200km mark. Celebrating of course 😉  Next to a giant river bank washout. Eating the last tofu leftovers. Feeling good. One apple and two chocolate sweets left. Celebrating 30km to go with an apple, and the next two tens with sweets 🙂 Last 40km riding in the dark. Great full moon. Riding in the dark with the moonlight, and using the red light on the torch on the back of my head. Great feeling. Moon casting a nice shadow of me riding on the road. Almost no traffic. The road and sceneries mine. Forests dark so have to switch the torch to be used in front.

Reaching home exactly at 14hrs mark. 241.5km. Tired, hungry, sore. Happy.

Cycling slows me down. It allows me to enjoy the sceneries more that in the car. It allows me to feel the terrain, all the little hills and all the open fields. The forests, all the smells, the varying temperatures, and atmosphere along the way. I become part of the scenery myself, and cease to be the visitor enclosed in a metal tin and isolated from the surroudings. I become myself part of the environment. The terrain, not me, dictates my speed. The terrain dictates the mood. Every short stop allows contact with birds in their natural habitat, interested of who I am and why i am there. On one of the spots the bird almost came to my hand, puzzled of who I may be. Probably never interacted with humans before. Sandflies were there but not bothered me that much. I did not used insect repellant – it would mess up the purity of the experience.

Most drivers were considerate, thank you. But some do not get it. Passing with a 1500kgs vehicle next to 60kgs person at high speed from behind makes it a terrifying experience. Sometimes when the car gets to close I can feel the primitive flight-ot-fight reaction in my stomach, happy to be alive, but real angry at the driver, especially if the entire lane is empty and there is no reason to drive like that.

Great trip. Waking up, packing and just like that, cycling 240km in two days, climbing over 3000m, and enjoying the best sceneries in the world. Words hardly express it.

 

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