So there I was on a perfect Monday morning sat on a rock on Sumner beach on the outskirts of Christchurch speaking to daddy dearest on the phone. There he was sat in my old bedroom back home just close enough to the wifi hub that seems to elude him 😉 I was getting the updates on my brother’s recent visit with the kids, an occasion my parents live for! Dad pretty much insisted on another blog, so here it is…
Having just spent the last 3 weeks in the company of my friend Nic, the Germans (Nick and Mike who are also cycling NZ), more of the Bevin/Atkinson cousins (who seem to have the monopoly of the NZ population), and Dr Tom (a friend of a friend), I have set off for the West coast on my lonesome once again. It was a toss up to leave Christchurch at all what with Cyclone Gita on her way in, but I wanted to make a move West so as to make it to Wanaka in time for the lovely Jo and Terry’s wedding! This meant a cycle into the downpour yesterday. So I donned my new rain jacket and mini high viz vest, put all 4 sets of lights on the bike and sucked it up. I didn’t however put my shoe covers on until it was too late or move my passport to a waterproof location. In fact it was the only possession not waterproofed, smart that!
With 5 podcasts ready to go, I had the good company of desert island discs, Ted talks and the adventure sport podcast with ultra runner Anna Marie Watson. The latter though inspiring, certainly didn’t get me wanting to do the MDS or UTMB! Chi-chi Nwanoku however had me in tears. A gifted athlete turned musician who has been fundamental in supporting black and ethnic minority classical musicians. One of her song selections was “Twinkle twinkle little star” a song her father sang to her as a child when gazing on the night sky. She emotionally told the story of her father and their relationship, how he inspired her. Needless to say it struck a chord with me and before I knew it I was blubbing away as I cycled the old west coast road in the chucking down rain. To any onlooker, I probably appeared to be having a harrowing time in the elements, the reality however was that I was thinking about my dad as I pushed on with my cycling challenge, loving every minute of being out in a cyclone and living the moment. True adventure. That said, I was truly saturated and trying to navigate with a constant puddle on your Garmin GPS who quite amusing. Turns out that blowing on it won’t clear the screen (no shit Rahma) and even wiping repeatedly with your sodden glove doesn’t do the job. Sod it who needs navigation anyway?! Totally over rated.
The conditions made me think of Juliana Buhring’s writings, how enduring the rain, the cold, the hardships make you experience the sun and the ease with so much more joy. I’ve been enjoying her book “This road I ride”, finding so many similarities in her thoughts on the bike as I experience myself. Whether it’s the mundane road kill sightings and dangerous drivers, or the bigger thoughts and questions on life and our world. Believe me, the mind wanders during hour upon hour in the saddle.
I’ve noticed of myself with this trip that I’m taking on a “when in Rome” attitude. I’m pushing my boundaries just a little from day to day, whether it’s throwing myself into huge surf and having a go or jumping off waterfalls and walking swing bridges over huge drops. For a girl terrified of heights, these are big steps that come on shaking legs. Life is for living after all and when you ride the roads in NZ believe me every day could be your last!
Tomorrow my aim is to cross to the West via Arthur’s Pass, I’m told it’s one of the most stunning roads in the world, a prospect I refuse to miss. It will be tough going with 20% plus gradients crossing the mountain range north of Mount Cook, but I know I’ll prefer it to the plains with their horrid headwinds. It will be my third “must ride” road after Queen Charlotte Drive by the Marlborough Sounds and the Lewis Pass south of the Nelson Lakes National Park. I might add, I SMASHED that last one!!! This time however I have the panniers back on the bike 😦