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Published: December 3rd 2009
Road FatalityDear Readers, a camera malfunction brought on by heavy rain has limited the number and variety of pictures accompanying this blog. The good news is that the camera is drying out nicely after a night sharing my sleeping bag and normal programming should resume next time. FM
You don't need to be a cyclist to be reminded of the dangers on our roads. This picture was taken on SH1 between Taupo and Turangi.
Today I was the subject of a vicious attack - by magpie. It began with a sudden whishing of wings and a cracking sound like a branch breaking. By the time I saw it, the magpie was a flash of black and white reaching for the sky. It hovered and prepared to launch itself again. My first instinct was to turn the bike around and confront it, preferably with a stick or a tent pole to defend myself. But as quickly as the thought came to me I was glancing left and right and sighting nothing suitable as a weapon. I also knew I had no time, the bird was barreling out of the sky towards me in a manner that would have done credit to any World War Two Battle of Britain air ace.
Fight or Flight
The alternative option was to flee, hoping I could outrun the
The shoulder is up to a metre and a half wide on parts of SH1 between Taupo and Turangi - giving cyclists plenty of opportunity to keep out of the way. But unfortunately, the shoulder often disappears on the corners where the road narrows to follow the lake edge. That leaves cyclists between a rock on one side and a hard place on the other.
thing. With the distraction, THE BEAST OF BURDEN and I had wobbled our way into the centre of the road. I stood on the pedals and THE BEAST lunged forward and back towards the left. Glancing behind me, I could see the bird plunging towards me. Perhaps I should brake hard in the hope it would overshoot. But I knew I was no match. I was dealing with an aerial combatant who had complete control of its domain. I kept pedaling and waited for the magpie to strike my helmet. Perhaps it might even land and peck at my scalp through the helmet’s ventilation slots. Looking back now, it seems comical, a grown man intimidated by a bird. But at the time I felt vulnerable, defenceless and frightened.
Again came the beating of wings and the cracking sound and the magpie rocketed past me and heavenwards. I could see it watching from high above, and a couple of times it dipped downwards, as if mocking me with its superiority and its power to intimidate. The next time I looked, it had veered away through the pine trees and vanished.
That incident happened on the road
Whanganui River Headwaters
The Whanganui begins its journey to the sea way up in the central North island. Here it is near National Park. I plan to follow it by bike from Pipiriki to Wanganui.
to National Park. For the past two days since leaving Taupo I have been dogged by rain and small events, like the magpie.
First I thought I’d lost my glasses - a crucial item for a map reading cyclist. I discovered them gone when I parked in the rain outside the AA’s Taupo office to get - yes, you guessed it - a map. I made a search of the handlebar bag and my pockets, and returned to the motor camp. I checked my site, asked the woman at reception if anyone had handed them in and began unpacking the panniers. Half way through the job, I suddenly remembered I’d felt a lump in the tent as I was rolling it up that morning. I’d partially unrolled it until I was satisfied that what I could feel were the tent pegs. But maybe I’d been wrong. I spread the sodden tent on the sodden driveway of the camp ground until I found the lump and sure enough it was my glasses safely in their case. I went to reception and told the woman I wasn’t going to need the pair she’d kindly offered me - left behind by some
Leave It To Your Imagination
But why would a perfectly good woman's boot be left lying on the side of the road. The heel showd very little sign of wear. I kept an eye open for its mate, but never found it.
previous visitor who didn’t need them as badly as me.
Braving the Main Road
The ride to Turangi was on SH1, something I’d promised myself I wasn’t going to do. But having circumnavigated Lake Taupo once already during the weekend Cycle Challenge, I wasn’t inclined to take the long route on a matter of principle. And as it turned out, the traffic wasn’t that scary. Along the way I met two other cyclists who’d lost their traveling companion. I hadn’t seen him but I agreed that if I met a Swiss cyclist in a red jacket I would pass on a message - they would be waiting for him at Turangi or National Park or somewhere in between. It seemed a vague message and I wasn’t surprised they’d lost him.
I spent the night at a camp ground on the edge of Tongariro National Park along with a group of 13 and 14-year-olds from Rodney College, Wellsford. They weren‘t a bad lot, but the thought of a rest day in their company was enough to send me out into the driving rain next morning, and along came that marauding magpie.
An hour later, I
This pair and their pup were leading a horse called "Mahia" through the main street of Raetahi one Thursday morning.
had my first puncture of the trip, in a torrential downpour. I pushed THE BEAST to a handy service station and the owner opened up a garage door and let me replace the inner tube in shelter. It’s the first time I’ve had to deal with a puncture since I was a schoolboy. I knew what to do in principle, but was rather relieved when I had the new inner tube fitted, the tyre back on and pumped up and the wheel in place on the rear of the bike. I found two holes in the old tube, patched them and found a man with a mountain bike rental business who sold me a new inner tube for $5. I’m heading towards the Whanganui River and gravel roads and who knows how many more punctures I’ll get in the days ahead.
Tot: 2.345s; Tpl: 0.076s; cc: 12; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0574s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb