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Published: December 17th 2009
The Former Mike Brockie Arrives in Wellington You stood in the newsroom like a messenger from a sunnier land.
Between a climb on a gravel road in the King Country
and a tail-wind out of Lower Hutt
you’d pedalled away a few decades of worry.
All you carried - the sun lightly on your back,
a mind clean and clear as a back-country moon.
You were a modern who’d made the epic journey -
two and half thousand kilometres with only yourself for company.
The news you brought to us was you -
sun-filled, travelling at your own speed.
You were the intro, the copy, the story.
This poem arrived in my email the day I returned home to Auckland. It is written by friend and colleague Richard Langston
, who has just had his fourth volume of poetry published. Richard, I love it! Thank you very much. I am honoured.
We'll come back to Richard's poetry later in this blog, but first:
Arriving in Wellington
It took a bike mechanic in Wellington half an hour to sort out the gears on THE BEAST OF BURDEN. He told me one of the
B52s & the Proclaimers
The wind delivered me back to Martinborough in time to discover the B52s and the Proclaimers were to play at the Alana Estate vineyard on the outskirts of town. I hitched a ride (not in the Hummer) and stood with thousands of others in a howling gale waiting for the gates to open. In the end, the organisers cancelled because of the wind. But no-one seemed too disappointed. By that stage, many were partying regardless and Martinborough's bars and cafes hummed that night.
adjuster screws had been wound all the way in, when it should have been half out. Memo to self: I must try to learn how to adjust the gears myself, so I don’t have to rely on others in future.
The Beast is Shackled
THE BEAST has been put away in a friend’s basement in the capital, and I am writing this sitting on the Overlander train heading north to Auckland - a 12 hour trip. I decided on the train instead of flying for a number of reasons - one was a sense of nostalgia. This may not be Paul Theroux’s Old Patagonian Express but it’s the nearest thing we have to a long distance train journey. It also gives me time to reflect on my bike ride so far, though I seem to have been doing more than enough of that lately. So instead, I’m just relaxing and enjoying the anticipation of being at home. And a couple of hours into the train ride, I am also enjoying the pleasure of effortless travel.
A Bump in the Night
The last few days saw me blown sideways by that persistent nor wester. When I tried
Wellington and End of the Road for now
With friend and colleague Gordon McBride at his house in Brooklyn, Wellington. It was a brief, overnight stay but I was very grateful. Thanks Flash!
to leave Cape Palliser to head in the general direction of Wellington, I ended up back in Martinborough. The next day the wind eased enough for me to battle the short distance to Featherston where I turned off the highway and made for something called the Rimutaka Incline - a rail trail familiar to Wellington mountain bikers. It was a great ride up and over, but by the time I emerged on the other side of the Rimutakas it was pouring with rain. So for my last night on the road I spent $45 on a tiny, four bunk cabin in a camp ground at Upper Hut. In the middle of the night I fell out of bed. Fortunately I was in one of the lower bunks. It seems I need time to acclimatize to civilisation after weeks on the ground in my tent.
Stand Out Moments
Looking back there are many moments that stand out. And as is so often the case, most of them are small things, with one big exception.
No-one has run me over. They haven‘t even come close, although on occasion they‘ve come close enough to startle me. And no-one has hurled
Inside one of the Tunnels on the Rimutaka Rail Trail
The trail is 17 kilometres long, and opened in 1987.
abuse or a bottle. On the contrary, most drivers have been courteous.
But among the small things have been the offers along the way - hot water from a thermos, the occasional beer or wine in a campground and even food. Three young guys in an electrician’s van slowed to let me grab hold so they could tow me up a hill. I declined in case I fell under the wheels. Three days ago in that gale of wind, a camper van stopped in the middle of the road and the husband walked back to see whether they could give me a lift to Wellington. Again, I declined. But there are lots of kind people out there.
Other moments include the afternoon a Northland farmer made sure I was safely out of the way as he brought a bunch of livestock down a gravel road - among them a stroppy, young bull.
There was the sister at the convent in Jerusalem with the cobweb on her shoulder. As we spoke about James k Baxter I wanted to reach out and remove that cobweb, but thought better of it.
I‘ve had some fantastic riding - on 90
Cross Country At Last!
But it's not as bad as it looks. Just a short stretch where I had to push THE BEAST.
Mile Beach for example and a reckless downhill dash in Pureora Forest which had me whooping with joy (there was no-one to hear). That same day at Pureora I stayed in the most perfect campsite with my own private swimming hole in the river.
I also enjoyed the good natured fun of the Round Taupo Cycle Challenge, and the opportunity to catch up with friends and family and in particular Judy who stayed on for another day.
And finally, as I seem to be doing a list, I’ve enjoyed talking to cows. They always seem interested as I cycle past but never ask obvious questions. Perfect, really.
My brief overnight stay in Wellington was a chance to catch up with a few people, including Richard Langston, who wrote the lovely poem above. He is a man who tries to make sense of his world and I suspect does a better job than many of us.
With the year drawing to a close and the prospect of a new one not too far away, I thought I‘d leave it to Richard to have the last word. Seasons greetings to you all - Feral Mike and THE BEAST
Wellington by Night
From the suburb of Brooklyn.
OF BURDEN will unleash themselves on the unsuspecting South Island in a few weeks.
The Future The future is not a contraption.
It is the second you just passed
on the way to the next one.
It is where our fears collect,
where a blind-dog sniffs
at the edge of a precipice.
The future is looking back at us,
asking whether we are up to it.
It is the place you need to walk out to
to hang your bright ideas
on the blue undisturbed air.
From: The Trouble Lamp
By: Richard Langston
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