Looking out the window of our little unit situated between Alexandra and Clyde currently gives a vista of cloud being blasted down the hills by an incoming southerly front. Maybe the brief spell of golden weather we have enjoyed for the last two weeks was ‘it’ for summer down in these parts.Hopefully not.

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This was Ruth’s favourite section of the Roxburgh Gorge Trail
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A clip-on section of track – note the rocks, we had fingers and toes crossed that the earth remained very calm.

It has been a case of spending plenty of time on the bikes while the sun shines. Yesterday we had a particularly challenging ride through the Roxbugh Gorge and at the end of it I could see that Ruth was pretty much over cycling. “Have the day off tomorrow” was my generous offer to which there was no argument. When I checked her bike this morning the back tyre was flat and when I mentioned it to her she was quick to say that she had not stabbed it but there was a hint of a smirk on her face as she told me. Anyway, with my new found mechanical skills, the tube was replaced before she could say “throw the bike into the local rubbish dump”.

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The landscapes here are so different to what we have seen so far. It was almost desert like in the Gorge
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Interesting colour contrasts

A day off can lift the spirits as can a bit of personal time browsing through the local shops. While Ruth was doing that, I huffed and puffed my way across a section of the ‘Rail Trail’, a section that was shrouded in fog when we rode it back in 2011. Not before having to get Ruth to drop my water bottle off, second time I have forgotten it recently.

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Not the latest in minimalist housing but a miners home that was very short on home comforts, especially for the brutal winters they have here.

Riding the trail with excellent visibility meant that I got to enjoy the magnificent views that a steady 35km slope results in. Had I seen them last time I probably would not have embarked on the ride this time. About half way into the climb the wind decided to make my task even tougher and then the chain chimed in by starting to slip very badly. I sent a text to Ruth to tell her to adjust the pick-up time accordingly, noting on arrival that it was undelivered. As I biked up into the thinning atmosphere I did ponder why I didn’t get Ruth to drop me at the summit so that I could coast back with the wind at my back. All these little things make life a little more interesting or if I am honest, challenging.

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The sky was starting to show signs of the predicted weather front as I headed off on the Rail Trail – sans Ruth

When we returned to base I set about checking the bikes over and there was so much gunk that had built up as a result of the dusty trails that my bike gears (and Ruth’s) were in a very sad state, no wonder the riding had become so difficult. I was very quick to break this good news to Ruth.

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The continually changing landscapes took my mind of the efforts that was going into pedaling.
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An interesting bit of garden art in the countryside

After slaving away for a few hours on maintenance and puncture repairs and with the new found knowledge that she had been riding under a handicap, Ruth came out and suggested that we ride a section of the Clutha Gold Trail tomorrow. I am not sure if she was feeling a little guilty or just hoping that in my state of weariness I would pass up her kind offer. We are off biking again tomorrow, weather permitting. However, Ruth read the trail notes this time and made sure that the section that we are going to ride is EASY.

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A row of poplar trees give the barren landscape a kind-of Tuscany feel

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