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February 17th 2006
Published: March 1st 2006
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Off the bikes - doctors orders 28-30/01/06

We get dropped off at Anglesea Clinic this morning where a doctor manipulates my knee for a while before announcing that I may have a torn meniscus and I need to rest it for seven days, definitely no cycling. He then tells me that after two days rest I should start exercising it, he says "a really good exercise for the knees is cycling". I give him one of those looks and we come to an agreement where I will lay off for a couple of days, then bimble around gently on the flat and see how it goes. After a week I will try some "serious" cycling and if the problem is still there I will probably have to have an arthroscopy (aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh).
On the 29th we take a walk around Hamilton Gardens, as I move the pain in my knee eases considerably. The gardens are well worth a visit, there are various areas in different styles: English country, Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Italian renaissance etc. Our favourite is the sustainable garden, complete with compost heap and wormery.

So the first ride day arrives, two days after my visit to the clinic and I'm allowed to take a "gentle" ride; we head up the road to get some shopping and do about 5 miles in total, I'm still getting some pain on the (very) little hills, but if I drop down the gears and spin madly it's not so bad.

The East Cape 31/01/06-04/02/06

Okay, so if I can't ride for a week our choices are:

1. Sit around in Hamilton doing nothing.
2. Hire a car and go and check out a bit of NZ we weren't going to see on the bikes.

Funnily enough we decide on the second option and today we are headed sort of east, the bikes are locked up in the garage at J's Backpackers and we head off towards Waitomo to see the glow worm caves. We get a guided tour of the caves with their amazing stalagt(m)ites, before taking a boat through the part where the glow worms are, they really are quite beautiful, just tiny little points of light, but in such numbers that it's like looking at the night sky with no light pollution. We aren't allowed to take photos as the glow worms are light sensitive, if there's too much light about they turn their own lights off and then can't catch their prey.
Eventually we exit, blinking, into the daylight again. As we are about to disembark there is an "official" photo of us all in the boat which we can buy at the gift shop if we want to - we don't!

The next day we head to Napier via Taupo where we stop for lunch and to get a new set of sunglasses for me; this is a new record, three weeks from purchase to destruction, this time the lenses cracked. Ho hum, so I've now got a pair of mirrored shades with interchangeable pink lenses for those days when hi-vis is needed. we'll see how long these last.

The road to Napier goes over three mountain passes; we both agree that we're glad we're not cycling it as the car struggles up the final pass, we don't even get to see great views as we're in low cloud all the time. We finally reach Hawkes Bay and drive through vineyard after vineyard until we get to Napier.

We spend the next day looking around Napier, it was devastated by an earthquake in 1931 and was rebuilt in the Art Deco style, so there are some fantastic buildings to see.

The 3rd Feb is the 75th anniversary of the earthquake and there is a service to commemorate this, we leave Napier and its residents to their memorial and head up Bluff Hill to see the views over the harbour before driving north towards Gisborne.

On the way out of town we see something which demonstrates the Kiwi sense of logic. How do you deal with one railway line and two roads meeting up, how about incorporating them all into one roundabout? It won't surprise you to know that the trains have right of way.

We stop for the night at Brian's Place, a very nice eco-friendly backpackers with composting toilets (bleurgh) before heading on around the East Cape to Opotiki where we stop at the Beach House and spend a couple of hours in the surf with boogie boards developing sand rash and getting ears full of water and sand.

How to cure the after effects of a fractured skull 05-07/02/06

We are headed for Rotorua, to go mountain biking and try out the luge at Skyline Lodge.
At Whakarewarewa Forest we hire mountain bikes, Vern is given one which is about the correct size for him, then the rental guy picks out a bike for me and lowers the saddle, he watches me riding it with my knees flapping around my elbows and doesn't seem to think there's anything wrong with my position. I lift the saddle by about 6 inches and we ride of into the forest after I've been told how to ride a mountain bike.
After a few kilometres of muddy single-track through the forest we come to a descent which has a couple of drop offs over tree roots and a muddy bit at the bottom. Vern races down it with no problems, so once he is clear I set off; the drop offs are fine and I hurtle to the muddy bit stood up on my pedals and leant back slightly over the rear wheel. I hit the mud only to discover that its leading edge is solid, the jolt lifts me off my pedals and I fall onto the front of the saddle, then the cross bar. So I'm now trying to control the bike with only my hands and it's not happening, I know I'm going to fall off it's just a matter of when, eventually I execute a sort of half sideways half endo splat and smack my head face first into the ground. Vern is watching all of this, then hears me say "Ooh, my head", he's worried and runs over to check my reflexes, sight etc; meanwhile I'm sat on the ground thinking how clear my head is and how I've got no dizzyness from the fall.
I've bashed both ankles on the damn pedals, but I'm covered in so much mud that there's no bleeding, so we get back on the bikes and ride around for another hour or so before taking the bikes back and heading to hot showers and the first aid kit. Left knee is painful again.

The next morning I wake up with no dizzyness at all, it would seem that the face plant has shaken my brain back to how it was before the first crash. We head to the Skyline Lodge and spend a large part of the day hurtling down the luge track. This isn't quite as dangerous as it sounds because on this luge you sit on a go-kart kind of thing which has brakes and the track is concrete, rather than lying flat on a tin tray on ice. The worst part is the trip back to the top of the hill which on a chair lift. Afterwards we have a late lunch in town, where I order a "Vegetable Burger", when it arrives its the tallest meal I have ever seen and is held together with BBQ skewers.

We get back to Hamilton and make contact with an old friend from Portsmouth who lives here now, unfortunately she's in Raglan at the moment but we arrange to meet up and exchange news tomorrow.

Early the next morning we return the car and walk down to Anglesea Clinic to see another doctor, he tells me that he thinks I have a swollen meniscus and that if I rest it for long enough and then taken the riding easy it should clear up. "Erm, if I tell you we're cycling back to Britain will your advice change doctor?" "I think you'd better see a specialist for a second opinion."
So now I have an appointment to see an orthopaedic surgeon here in Hamilton in 2 weeks
The Tower of TerrorThe Tower of TerrorThe Tower of Terror

I want to see this being served at Eldon when I get back!

Additional photos below
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Vernon and BruceVernon and Bruce
Vernon and Bruce

Bruce is the one on the left.

25th March 2006

Where r u now?
Hi guys!!! We are wondering where you have got to we did get your message on the answerphone last month so we know you made it to Hamilton, are you still there? Clare...are you trying to kill yourself? There are easier ways to do it!!! We are all fine, the weather is just starting to get a bit cooler here finally! Ring us before you leave the country or come back for Easter if you like!!

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