Cycling, Drinking, And New Zealand: Good, Good, And Good

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I’m beginning to realize that if I wasn’t born in America, the good Lord would’ve sent me right down to New Zealand. Apparently, my fate drew the short straw (or would that be the long straw?). I say that because the more I read about the place, the more I’m sure I’d love it. Middle Earthen beauty, bad-ass accents, and the tendency to encourage one to bike from bar to bar. In fact, I’m tempted to don an accent and pedal to the bar this very minute. But it’s 7:37 a.m., maybe that’s too much.

However, it wouldn’t be too much if you happened to find yourself along New Zealand’s Clutha River. 150 years ago, you’d find yourself among 40,000 miners, frequenting the 42 bars and 3 opium dens — and that just in the town of Clyde. Today, the table dancers and drug-fueled evenings may be a thing of the past, but the action is still just as hot. Think spandex.

Reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, New Zealand’s Otago Rail Trail is the country’s first dedicated long-distance cycleway, paralleling the once “richest gold-bearing river in the world.” Using about 150 km of old railroad bed, the nearly 20,000 cyclists per year have created another gold rush of sorts. Seeing the effects of the trail on the area, the New Zealand government has begun construction on seven more routes that will crisscross the country.

And don’t worry, even though the old mining towns along the trail have started crumbling, the pubs have carried on.  After all, that’s how we cyclists roll.

[image by Rene’ V. Rosengren/flickr]

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