The forecast for today was a light drizzle with less than 2 mm before 9:00 followed by little cloud and a south wind increasing from 6 kms to 15 kms by 10:00 am. Temperatures in the morning at 14 C and increasing to 19 C. Sounded pretty nice so I had laid out arm and leg warmers a riding vest and shorts and jersey. When we got up the light drizzle was a full on down pour and it was closer to 6 C. Plan B was to change the riding vest for the full on rain gear including shower cap , rain booties, white water paddling gloves, rain pants and hurricane rated rain coat. So we are off into the downpour.
Now this isn’t just any bike ride this is the Crown Range Ride. This is the iconic New Zealand bike ride. While this isn’t the Stelvio Pass or Alp de Huez it is the highest paved road in all of New Zealand. The ride starts in Queensland. The first section is 25 kms which gains approximately 100 m. At this point the switch backs start and there are seven switchbacks which cover approximately 7 kms. The switchback section of the climb averages 5% however the Garmins showed sections of 15%. At the end of the switchback section there is a section of 2 kms which is slightly rolling but more up than down. At this point you enter Gorge Road which is a further 7 kms which averages 6%. However the Garmin again pointed out sections in the 15% range. At this point you are now at the summit which is at 1075 meters. From the summit it is 40 km downhill to Wanaka. For a grand total of 77 Kms and a gain of 1020 m.
Sounds grand but the rainy conditions changed things a lot. Everything always seems to go sideways in the rain. At the 20 kms mark we came to a very steep little pitch which was only 100 meters long but probably 12% and Tom down shifted as he jumped on the pedals. The chain was jammed between the granny gear and the second gear. Jos pulled one section out with a cord and I got the other section out by backing all of the gear ring bolts off. We made it past the switchbacks and got to the within 2 kms of the summit when my left pedal clip failed. The little spring in the clip had broken and so I couldn’t clip in. Pedaling with only one clip was impossible and I had to walk the last couple hundred meters. After the required photos and congratulations we were off down the backside. We made it about 2 kms when Jos’ rear disc brake locked. The rotor was white hot and the pads almost welded. A little fooling around and we got the disc brakes unlocked. We made it into town and hit a bike shop. I grabbed a new set of pedals but Jos is still wrestling with his brakes. As a side note the young women in the bike shop was from Canmore Alberta (Just outside of Calgary).
About half way down from the summit is a place where women have tied there bras to a fence in support of breast cancer. It is quite a something to behold.
Well made it in save and sound. Didn’t see any of all the highly rated scenery. I guess I’ll just have to come back.