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Published: March 5th 2018
Day 8: Timber trail Lodge to Ophango, 95km. Worries, single track trails, gravel roads and a sprinkle of asphalt
The Donkey woke up this morning with lots of worries swirling through his head. He did not know why. The back of his head was on fire from the shingles and he was not hungry. He forced himself to eat breakfast and was joined by a couple of hard-out bike trackers, the first of wave six, which left two days after the Donkey’s fifth wave. He knew the pair, they were antelopes who lived somewhere in the mountains on the South Island. The Donkey had met them before at a more formal occasion. The Donkey was impressed with their progress. He studied their bikes and saw that they had all their gear perfectly balanced in small bags strapped to the bike. Antelopes are intelligent and well organised animals. They must also be tough decided the Donkey as they still looked fresh as a daisy. The Donkey wanted to make a photo of them and their bikes but they were gone before he found the button for the camera on his phone. He always had trouble with that. Actually, generally cell phones
and donkeys are not good bedfellows, they think differently so they often clash.
It was another beautiful morning with some low mist hanging in and around the trees. Why the worries, thought the Donkey. He had taken his handful of pills and hoped that would soon make him feel better. He knew that being worried is unhelpful. He had learned that through experience and by observing other donkeys who suffered from worry and anxiety. It does not make you feel better at all and why should you worry about something which is unlikely to happen anyway especially if you don't know exactly what you are worried about. And if something does happen, it is generally not as bad as what you think it will be, and if it is as bad as what you think it to be, well, then somehow you will cope and find a way to carry on. The Donkey had read this somewhere in a philosophy book and he liked it and tried to live by it, but not always, like this morning. The track was rocky and bouncy and at places boggy. The Donkey went to work and after half an hour felt hot
and stopped to take his jacket off to put in his back pack. While he stood on the side of the track he took in the quietness around him except for the waking birds who sang there notes with orchestral precision. His mood improved after this but half an hour later he suddenly realised that he felt so much lighter and that the reason for that was that he left his back pack with all his essentials including money and credit cards on the side of the track. Not that having credit cards did you any good in the middle of the forest but his instinct urged him to go back and find the backpack. He went with twice the speed as now he was really worried. What if he could not find the spot where he had stopped, or what if someone had stolen his backpack. He knew that was unlikely as there was nobody else around. It is called catastrophic thinking and that sometimes happened to the Donkey. He raced through the forest with a great rate of knots, Spot was really enjoying himself. This was more like it, like his old master would ride. The donkey was
convinced he would never see his backpack again but just when he thought he had well gone past the point where he had stopped he saw the red backpack lying on the side of the track, patiently waiting for his boss. I called after you, the back pack said, but you did not hear me. Sorry, said the Donkey and strapped the backpack extra tight on his back, both were relieved to be re-united.
The donkey carried on his merry way at a safer speed, much to Spot’s regret. There were plenty of swing bridges which freaked the Donkey and Spot out but they sang their way across. the trail itself was a bumpy ride, up and down, through ruts and muddy bogs. Especially the latter caused the Donkey great angst. The bog was driest on each outer side and it made sense to go for the outside of the bog, left or right. Except that the Donkey could not decide which side to choose and as a result ended up going right through the middle, the boggiest place in the bog. Several times he got stuck and sometimes he would fall over but he always got back up
and carried on determined to do better at the next bog. While he and Spot were bouncing around on the track the Donkey realised that at heart he was a roady. He longed for a bit of asphalt where he could just get down on his aerobars and stomp on the pedals and let his thoughts run free. He did not say this aloud as he knew it would annoy Spot who did not have much time for road bikes. He called them fancy. Spot was not just any old mountain bike, he was a boutique mountain bike, that is what his previous master had told the Donkey and other riders on the tour, who knew a bit about bikes, had confirmed that. Heya, you are riding a Spot, they said, surprised to see a donkey riding such a beautiful bike. They had never seen a donkey on a Spot before.
Finally, at the end of the morning, after first having to deal with kilometers of gravel road, there was some asphalt. By then the temperatures were close to 30 degrees and the Donkey was getting hungry and thirsty. He stopped at a place called Taimeranui, the Donkey had no idea where that was but there was a café and that was all what mattered.. Only 26km to go, not far, he thought, but he had not counted on the fact that most of it was uphill and on gravel roads, so the kilometers ticked by very very slowly. At 6 p.m.he arrived in a state of exhaustion at the Ophango hotel, his destination for the night. There he was fed half a chicken, some chips and a corn cob, with ice cream and cake for desert.
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