In contrast to the rigours of the mostly grade 3 (intermediate) Roxburgh Gorge trail, the Clutha Gold trail next day promises to be a relaxing grade 2.
Snow has sprinkled the mountains over night, but with it has come clear Otago skies and sunnier weather.
I cross over the top of the huge Roxburgh Hydro Dam to the sound of booming water and a rising mist of spray from the torrent below. Then speed down the hill to join the trail at Commissioners Flat.
The name bodes well for an easy start to the 10 K ride to Roxburgh township, the first stop on this trail tracing the Clutha Mata-au River.
The path is benign but I still have to have my wits about me as there are some sharp bends and narrow bridges.
The miles pass meditatively by without me seeing anyone. The river, my constant companion, is emerald green, backdropped by sunburnt hills and a foreground of verdant flatlands with row upon row of trees heavy with fruit.
Roxburgh town’s pink-painted span bridge eventually comes into view. But I am pressed for time to catch a transfer, so push on to the 20 K leg of the trail to Millers Flat.
I am rewarded with lovely river vistas and I stop often to take photos of landscapes that could easily grace a New Zealand souvenir calendar.
Its hot work on the sunkissed trail, so I rest on the river bank and crack open my second litre of water. It doesnt get much better than this, but I have rouse myself or I wont be on my flight home tonight.
Back on the trail the topography changes and I head inland into forest, cycling through welcome shade.
I am in farmland before long and close to Millers Flat, the last part of my journey, eventually coming to a stop at the blue span bridge of Millers Flat.
I pull up by Millers Flat Tavern for a late lunch and chat with a serene old man seated in front of his easle painting the bridge scene. He is from the Netherlands and is travelling the south, painting scenes like this as he goes.
Too soon my transfer arrives and I am joined by others off other parts of the trail, elated by their day too. We whitter on about trails done and trails to do, until it becomes competitive and one of us has to spoil it, a big city compatriot, by inserting his net worth somehow into a harmless conversation about cycling.
I inwardly groan knowing I am back in civilisation again and wish I had more time to cycle on to Beaumont and Lawrence beyond. Instead I zone out for the rest of the trans in my new happy place, beside that beautiful riverbank back there by the Clutha Mata-au River.
For images from the trails visit my instagram account @susangibsonpr
For information on the Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold trails visit centralotagonz.com
Thanks to shebikeshebikes for cutting and pasting together an amazing ride for me in such a short window of time. Next visit will be much more leisurely I promise.