|Steve and Anthony take in the sunset at the Wanaka house|
The Blokes had borrowed a friends house in Wanaka for a week of mountain biking. We regularly ride on Sunday mornings, and it looked like we could cope with a week together without danger to our health - but little did we know. I'd been delayed by a medical appointment, at which a skeletal survey, blood test and CT scan indicated I was OK "so long as you don't do the sort of mountain biking where you fall off" my specialist said.
But the real threat appeared when I got to the house - in the kitchen the fridge and every surface seemed to be laden with gourmet (i.e. high calorie, supersaturated fat) foodstuffs. Apparently the food budget had got to the point where the manager of the local supermarket had taken to personally escorting the the group around on their twice daily spending sprees, before slipping off to phone his sharebroker.
Next morning we made some inroads as Bill rustled up bacon and eggs "we could do some salmon steaks as well if you feel hungry..." then headed off to Queenstown, taking the long way, partly since there was still snow on the Cardrona, but mainly so we could identify vineyards to visit on the way back.
The days objective was the mountain bike park accessed by the Queenstown Skyline Gondola. We bought tickets, figured out the loading system, and headed up.
|The Blokes at the top of the Gondola - no calories were harmed in the making of this ascent|
Hammy's track looked like a good start, graded as easy. Nice flowing lines through the pines taking us out to the back near Ben Lomond, then down for another gondola ride.
|Ben Lomond assesses Bill's riding style|
How about Vertigo, an intermediate run? This seemed to be a family route - families. that is, of identically Lycra clad parents and kids, some as young as five (the kids, not the parents!) with full suspension rigs, incredible track holding skills, and a complete lack of fear. After a few spills, Bill and I decided not to intrude on their enjoyment, and that Hammy's was so good it could cope with a few more runs, particulary if leavened with a dose of the curiously named Thundergoat.
Around lunchtime we all met up at the top of the Gondola. The stress of riding downhill seemed to have burned off the breakfast, and we felt sure that Russell, waiting to be picked up at the airport, would not want us to picking him up in a calorie depleted state, so we trooped into the cafe. This was the start of the Pies. We all ordered them, and they were delicious, and perfectly healthy if combined with the low calorie tomato sauce.
|Pies at the top of the Gondola: Steve attempts to distract Kevin from his supersaturated temptation, while Bill documents the occasion for the coroner|
|Bill and Steve consider the health benefits of Peregrine wines|
So next day we were on a tight schedule - after a light pancake breakfast (with bacon, whipped full cream, bananas, and pears) we'd whip around the Millenium track to Glendu Bay, and back to the Golf Club for the first pie sitting.
It was a blue bird day, and despite being on a camera diet - I'd been banned from taking my 2kg DSLR on bike trips - there was enough fun to be had photographing the reflections and autumn colours on my compact Olympus TG-820 that I fell behind the group.
|Millenium Track to Golf Course and Lamb Shank Pies|
|Approaching Glendhu Bay on the Millenium Track; a ridge of bogus Aspirings in the background|
|The real Aspiring stands out from Glendhu Bay|
Next morning the question arose of whether all this food was exactly healthy. The choice of margarine, naturally, came under the spotlight. Fortunately, after a close reading of the ingredients on the container, and an exhaustive literature search, our medical advisor, Russell, was able to assure us that it was. We returned to our healthy bacon and eggs, and eased up on the nasty statins.
|Good news - 90% of Cochrane reviewers eat our margarine|
|Clutha from the Newcastle Track|
We made our way back along the terraces of Upper Clutha River Track, with Russell keeping an anglers eye out for trout in the river below.
|Kevin, Steve and Russell check out the Clutha|
|Kevin shreds the Upper Clutha trail..|
|...but couldn't resist the lure of a permanent hammock|
|Retired person's business card, courtesy of Martin|
But that's the next blog...