Moonlight Track, Queenstown

Moke Lake

Neil Proctor ( a Brit living here in Q-town with his Outside Sports co-worker Jim Hawkbridge & Flick Smith) suggested a ride for today, starting right from their front door, and winding around a  trail called the Moonlight Track.
I ‘d seen the word “Moonlight”  the day before, on my ride from Wanaka.  I was at the summit between Cardrona and Arrowtown–one of those lookouts where you have a diorama of all the peaks.

A couple came up and said, You Must Be Exremely Fit, and  I said yeh, well, I’m a former pro bike racer, trying to learn to go slow  Her name was….Selene and er…oh, hell. Well, anyway, I told them I was from Fairfax and their eyebrows shot up, having come from Santa Rosa (roughly 40 miles north of Fairfax) and here we are, the only people in the parking lot…

So I took Neil’s advice.
But first I had to patch the slow leak that bugged me all day yesterday (every 10 km or so: stop and top ‘er up). Then pack a small lunch. There was a map of the ride he’d shown me, and even though I’m always L’Austin Space, I took it to be a good “roll model” for you reader/riders.

The Moonlight Track skirts a deep gorge, probably a feeder for the Shotover river, where evil jet-boats ply the turquoise waters on an hourly basis, day in and day out. It’s always nice to be able to physically occupy a space that usually exists only in the mind: the edge.

Along with me were a few nervous sheep-mamas and their more nervous lambies.

I herded them along, and took pictures nearly every kilometer.

Proof that I can actually get out the door, despite the siren call of TWO APPLE COMPUTERS at my beck & call…that was a hard one, I must admit.
So the bike is jangling like a set of janitor’s keys: the homemade fender’s lost a nut & bolt, so a twister-tie will have to do…and only 3 of the 3 x 9 gears actually work without skipping horribly, and sending me over the bars.

Neil’s preview was so excellent, I didn’t need to consult the map. He’d described the ups, downs, hairpins and the track connecting Moke Lake and Lake Dispute (doesn’t that evoke a few questions?).  I just kept plugging along: he’d said it was an All Day Ride, and he was right. I was worried it was a 30 year old man’s All-Day, but clearly this guy understands how to re-calibrate for his audience. Touching.
(I remember Charlie and my first ride, up Shaver Grade, which he’d promised had absolutely no climbing in it… As we walked the bikes up the gentle incline–I had ruint my knees and couldn’t even tolerate the merest slope–I wondered what he thought constituted a hill. Thus began the great Communication Wars.)

When it seemed I’d gone off course, having dropped down into the gorge I’d been riding above, I stopped in at a modern sheep-shearing barn to get directions. The landowner was right  in there shearing paralyzed sheep with five other guys. They had belts that resembled swingset swings to enable them to hang over the animal and shear madly. Quite a scene, with broomswomen, wool-tossers, and massive bags of the greasy grey-white fluff all around.   The owner directed me on course (I hadn’t gone wrong, just balked early and asked directions a hundred meters before the DOC sign explained where to go).
Tussocks, grass, lakes. Peaks all around, and perfect solitude. Not even sheep baa-ing interupted the quiet. God, I felt brave. If I twisted an ankle or broke a leg, I ‘d have to wait two days for the next biker to come along….

By the time I came off the track and onto the road at Closeburn (“Clothes-burn?” I almost did that with some of my over-used bike gear)I was ready to take it easy. Dived onto the Wilson Bay -Seven Mile walking track, to avoid a horrific hill on the Glenorchy road…but got lost in a biker maze…it was a mini-Whistler, with fun wooden bridges and stuff, but I was only trying to dodge a hill, and wound up riding in the maze for 45 minutes before admitting defeat and coming back out where I went in.

Gently pushed the skipping gears along, and within 40 minutes I was in town.

By seven p.m. I’d made a massive risotto  a la wombat, tomato salad and cheatin’ dessert (a bar of Whitttaker’s chocolate), crafted a menu, and fallen into bed for a nap.
My hosts will be home around 9 (that’s when it gets dark in N.Z. in November!) and that is when we’ll eat.

~ by jacquiephelan on November 16, 2010.

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