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Published: March 10th 2018
Day 12: Palmerston North to Masterton 104km. How much misery can a donkey take?
What one can do to oneself, it beggars belief, contemplated the Donkey while he was climbing a massive hill, just outside Palmerston North. The hill was so big that no amount of sticks you threw at it would cover it or even put a dent in it. The road he was on was called Pahiatu Aokautere road, 'a popular training hill for local roadies' it said in the instructions. That is all nice and well for a roady with a 7kg bike but it is a different story for a donkey on a fully laden mountain bike, weighing around 30 kg, plus of course the weight of the donkey, even if he surely must have lost some weight since the start of the tour.
The Donkey was in a dark mood, not only because of the hill. First he had woken up late, at 7.30 which meant he did not get away till an hour later, and then the wind once again came from the south east and had not much abated from the previous day. Headwind was back with a vengeance and Rain was threatening in the background. The Donkey also got lost finding his way out of Palmerston North that morning. He had always wondered why Palmerston North was not the main capital of New Zealand but now he knew why that was not the case. One should not be able to get lost in a capital city and also the weather was not agreeable. It would put any politician in a grumpy mood with bad policy making as a result.
The Donkey has a good mate, a lemur, who grew up in Palmy (as they call it deceptively, as it rhymes on balmy, which it certainly is not). The lemur always raved about his hometown, but the Donkey now knew the truth. When he had the chance he would tell his mate, who was now high up in a sports organisation which overlooked a sport called triathlon, three sports in one package, something the Donkey never understood, is one sport not enough for one’s health?
He had biked up a hill in his hometown, called the bastard, and that was an apt name for that particular hill. The hill the Donkey was climbing now felt similar if not worse. Actually, it was worse as while he was riding up he was attacked by one truck after another. There was little or no shoulder on the road, which was O.K. for the road as the road had little use for it anyway. The trucks did not give him a wide berth, as they are supposed to, they did not give him any berth. A couple of times the Donkey’s outside elbow brushed against the side of a truck and he had to veer into the rough to avoid being crushed by one of the truck’s wheels.
A couple of months earlier, in the Christchurch Press, there had been a letter to the editor from an irate driver who compared cyclists to maggots. Now, the Donkey has nothing against maggots but cyclist’s brains are much bigger than those of maggots and to compare cyclists to maggots is at least derogatory if not racist. The writer of the letter was probably a rat, a rat with a headache, as even normal rats would not say these things; they would only think them. The Donkey had decided that with rats like that around there was little hope for cyclists, let alone world peace.
The truck drivers on Pahiatua Aokautere road must have been descendants of the Christchurch rat as they had it in for the Donkey, and for many of the other riders as the Donkey heard later. The only ones given a wide birth had been the two grizzly bears. The rats were not totally stupid.
After three hours of more gravel roads, Headwind and somber thoughts the Donkey stopped in Pahiatua for a break. It was already lunch time so he ordered an “all day” breakfast which consisted of egg, bacon, hash browns, sausages, bread and a baked tomato. The donkey even ate the baked tomato, normally not his favourite. He washed it all down with a large flat white, let out a large burb and felt better for it. The Donkey delayed getting back on the road by checking his messages on his phone. There was one from his friend the buffalo.
Buffalos are very wise animals and often multi-talented. The Donkeys buffalo friend could sing, play his guitar and make beautiful drawings, all in one day, if he wanted to. Buffalos do not need qualifications for anything they take on, it comes to them naturally.
Buffalo: how are you feeling this morning
The Donkey: not great, not sure why I am doing this
Buffalo: I guess it will come down to the meaning and significance this has for you, not that you need me to tell you that but I enjoy stating the obvious!
The Donkey: Is it about never giving up?
Buffalo: It’s what underpins that and what gives that meaning. Never giving up is a useful attribute….often.
The Donkey: Well, I better get on with it for a bit more. Over and out.
The Donkey never understood fully what his friend the Buffalo meant during their conversations, they had many like this before, but somehow the Donkey felt always better afterwards. And so it was this time. He tackled the headwinds and gravel roads with more vigour and for a while made good progress. Another shot of caffeine in Eketahuna, and he was ready to take on the final 35km into Masterton, his destination for the day.
After mostly a bit of mizzly drizzle Rain decided to step it up and he started challenging Headwind. It got so bad that at one stage the Donkey pleaded with both to give him a break. But Headwind just grinned and let off a big farth which nearly blew the Donkey off the road. Rain answered with a tantalizing rainbow in the far distance, but without retreating, Rain is good at that.
When the Donkey had only 5km to go the heavens opened. Cats, dogs, bucket loads and hoses turned on, all directed at the Donkey. It was a miracle that no cats or dogs hit the Donkey, even if the Donkey knew that it could not really rain cats and dogs, he still thought it was a miracle. But he was right in that all the buckets were emptied on his poor head and all hoses aimed at his haggard face. The Donkey had never minded the company of a bit of misery as he had learned that it tended to spur him on. Misery might be a motivator but there is a limit, like with everything, and the Donkey felt that he was getting close to his misery threshold. How much misery can a donkey tolerate, he wondered.
Butterfly had offered to come to Masterton and meet him there. The Donkey had declined to offer as he feared that seeing her would make him quit there and then. He always went a bit mellow and soft when he saw her beautiful colours. Now he hoped she was going to be there anyway with her happy smile (and a nice hot meal).
At 6 p.m., drenched to the bone, he rolled into the Mawley Holliday Park where he had rented a cabin. Butterfly was not there but he was still upbeat as tomorrow he was going to see her, as she was going to join him for some of the ride into Wellington.
Tot: 0.033s; Tpl: 0.016s; cc: 9; qc: 31; dbt: 0.0075s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb