Today I set off for the first leg of the Otago rail trail, a 150ish kilometer long trail across central Otago. Not knowing how the terrain would be and having been discouraged from taking a lot of weight by the Pedallers' books I left with almost no food in my bags. Turned out to not be a problem so I restocked about half way when I got the chance. A fully loaded bike with tires mostly meant for the road can be a bit rough when the gravel gets thick but it wasn't too bad.
When the day started I was feeling kind of lonely. I haven't ran into any cyclists lately which isn't too surprising, it's still rather early for us. The problem was that I had expected the rail trail to be full of them but town last night was empty and I put about 10km in this morning seeing nobody on the trial (except sheep). I eventually started seeing bikes but for a while it was just smiling at people on rental mountain bikes. Then I started seeing people with panniers and flagged someone down to chat, thinking they were touring. Nope, just rented the bike one way and put their clothes in the already attached rear panniers. Lots of those, actually.
Finally about 55km in I saw my first fully loaded touring bike since Jim and Tonya. Stopped and talked for a while. He was from Wellington and every year takes his entire month of leave to bicycle tour New Zealand.
Got to my expected destination (65km) and had my usual burger and beer. Somehow felt regenerated and since it was only 3:30pm and I couldn't find internet there I decided to take the 28km to the next town before calling it quits. When I got there the lady who runs the camp grounds was out so I headed to the pub to make use of their wifi while I waited. Got flagged by a couple doing the trail as well and talked for a while. He runs a software company on the north island and for the first time in three weeks I talked to someone here about computers!