Sunday, 12 January 2014

A word about safety!

Not everyone's favourite subject but this is important so please read (and heed).

The basis of the ride is self-sufficiency. You must be able to support yourself when it comes to food and water, navigation and possibly basic bike repairs. Some parts of the route are some distance from population centres (if you can call Tarras, population approximately 230, a population centre that is).

The terrain (mountainous and barren) and the weather (alpine at times) also factor into the challenges of the ride. Although you are riding at the height of the New Zealand summer and will experience temperatures in the high 20's and low 30's, there is always the possibility of a severe weather change (especially at altitude).  Snow is not unusual in the region at this time of year and although temporary, it can be harsh.

Snow

400 metres above sea level in January 2012
Last time round saw a freak event with temperatures dropping from the daytime of 25+ to below freezing overnight with the result the scene pictured above.

Please be sensible and if the weather changes for the worse seek good shelter and wait it out. Do not continue riding. The small delay to your ride is better than risking your life. You may think the temperature and conditions can't get worse but they can be extreme in Central Otago and particularly above 1000 metres.

River Crossings

The big one is being avoided (the Godley) but there may be other minor ones you have to cross. After rain (or snow) even the small crossings can be difficult with a bicycle.

The Manuherikia at ankle deep
If you are traveling with others then organise to shuttle bikes and people across safely. If you are by yourself then be particularly cautious. A bike wheel dragging in the water can momentarily throw you off balance. You may have to lighten the bike for the crossing and fetch your gear separately. If others are not far behind then waiting could be the option.

Other obstacles

Are too many to list.... fences, gates, stock! potholes, fallen trees, campervans! swing bridges......

Hopefully these will mostly form part of the scenery and be part of the experience (if you don't get too close).

Road rules

To re-iterate Rule 10 - Obey the road rules at all times. Even the most remote track can have farm workers or recreational 4WD vehicles on it so approach blind corners with caution. You might only see a walker on the Rock Peak Track on the Criffel Range but a 4WD is not uncommon on Thomsons Gorge Track.

Help

You are supposed to be self-sufficient but there are other riders out there which may be able to help. Your SPOT Tracker is also a safety device in that it can summons help. Please use it wisely!

If you have run out of plunger coffee at Top Hut in the Oteake Conservation Park then it is not the time to hit Help/Assist on your SPOT. However if it has all turned to custard and it is life threatening then hit SOS.

Remember SOS will bring the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre (and the New Zealand Police) to bear. The Help/Assist will bring friends or nearby riders to assist. You need to be able to judge the situation accordingly.

And don't forget to enjoy the ride!

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