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Published: December 12th 2009
Hardly a Breath of Wind Down in the Valley
This is the windsock at the Pongaroa rugby club. An hour earlier I was struggling to control the bike as I crossed the Puketoi Range. At one stage, I got off the bike as the road passed around a bluff above a river. The wind caught the back of the bike and it swung through a 180 degree arc until I was facing the way I’d come.
Nor westerly winds have been buffeting me for days - providing me with riding that has been at times exciting, frightening and simply pleasant. From Palmerston North I took something called the Pahiatua Track, which in fact is not a track but a perfectly good, steep but sealed road . On a high ridge, wind generators spun swiftly and a cold blast sent a chill through me and pushed the bike off its stand. Later the same day, I was forced to push THE BEAST OF BURDEN in places, for fear of being shunted off the road. At other times, the wind struck from behind and sent me flying effortlessly uphill. I felt adrift on an ocean of wind.
Buffeted in More Senses than One
I’ve also felt adrift emotionally. For several days poor reception has meant I have had only intermittent text and email contact with my home base, and moments of intense loneliness have set in. It’s taken me by surprise, because up until now loneliness has not been much of an issue.
The Same Old Questions
I have suddenly become tired of the camp ground conversations that begin with, “how far have you come”
to, “what’s that plastic stool on the back of the bike for” (it’s my seat when I’m camping) to, “don’t you get lonely?” To that last question I usually respond, “no I’m too busy cycling and sleeping and eating and anyway I often talk to people like you,, which is lovely”. And then I go through my standard list of questions to them.
Whoops - Feeling Low
But without the regular contact with home, it hasn’t been enough. So it was with considerable delight I made the acquaintance of a young German traveller, called Maria. I first met her at Pongoroa, where we were the only two people to share a rugby field that doubled as the camp ground. I slept in my tent, and she slept in her station wagon - but not before eyeing me suspiciously to judge whether I was a security risk.
We met again a couple of days later at a DoC campsite and Maria was good enough to tolerate me on a journey in her car to view the Cape Palliser lighthouse and the seal colony. As she drove, we chatted about any and everything and suddenly I realized
Merry Christmas Maria!
And happy and safe travels in New Zealand
how much I was missing real human conversation - the type that goes beyond the campground questions. We found the seals, and I was delighted to watch her enjoyment . It was the first time she’d seen them outside a zoo.
And suddenly - afterwards - I felt terribly miserable and homesick. I wanted human company.
And Then Another Factor
But now there is another force driving me - it’s the riding. Day in, day out, I’m enjoying it more and more. As I get fitter, the hills seem less steep and I finish my 90 or so kilometres feeling invigorated rather than tired. It’s like an endorphin addiction and I don’t want it to stop. But as I approach the end of the North Island leg of my journey I am feeling a sense of panic. I have only the South Island left and then it will all be over..
So I am feeling adrift on those winds - one moment they’re buffeting me on the bike, the next they are playing with my emotions. And I’m torn between the urge to ride and the urge to go home.
Tot: 2.544s; Tpl: 0.12s; cc: 10; qc: 35; dbt: 0.0411s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.3mb