Ahead of me today was longest and highest ascend on the TA route – Crown Range Pass. Fortunately, since it was long, it was also gradual.
The ascend started right out of Wanaka and I started chugging along Cardrona road. Along the way I stopped at the infamous bra fence and the historic Cardrona Hotel.
I then continued onwards and upwards. The last few kilometers got tougher as the incline got steeper. I stopped a few times to catch my breath but pedaled all the way to the top. And there it was: the final summit of the trip! From here, it is all downhill. I am leaving the Southern Alps behind, as did with the Swiss Alps a couple of years ago.
The descent was exhilarating, I was going so fast I couldn’t break hard enough and ended up on the opposite lane a few times. Luckily there were no upcoming cars.
As I came down, I felt adventurous and kind of invincible after getting over that big hurdle, so I turned onto a gravel road that later turned into a 4WD track that later turned into cycling path along Arrow River. I got carried away and strayed off the TA route to go to Kawarau bridge, renowned for bungee jumping.
I started seeing many mountain bikers racing: as it turned out, it was the final stage of The Pioneer MTB Race. I kept cycling along the racers all the way to the finish line and even crossed it, surprising the officials. Maybe I’ll get an honorary mention on their website.
Had I stayed on the highway I would have arrived to Queenstown much sooner, doing around 60km instead of the 100km I ended up cycling. But I had fun off-roading!
I am taking a long overdue day off, or maybe even two – even a crazy Russian needs time off.
Today in numbers:
100 km – distance cycled
39 km – length of the ascend to Crown Range Summit
300+ – teams participating in the 2018 The Pioneer MTB Race, not counting myself
500 km – length of Southern Alps