Day 16: Tapawera to Murchinson 96 km, More gravel and the sandflies attack


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March 13th 2018
Published: March 13th 2018
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Day 16: Tapawera to Murchinson 96 km, More gravel roads and the sandflies attack

The distance for day 16 of just under 100km was deceiving. Through trial and error the Donkey had cottoned on to the fact that the course profile and riding surface was as, if not more important, than the distance. Gravel roads halved his speed compared to asphalt and single tracks halved that speed again and uphill, well, he was better of to get off his bike on some steep stretches. Today was 60km of gravel with a lot of climbing and Headwind had returned once more. The Donkey set out early enough at 7.30 a.m. to try and beat Headwind but Headwind was just lurking around the corner and hit with a vengeance when the Donkey rode up the Tadmore Valley. Headwind was not in a good mood and pushed the Donkey back as hard as he could. The Donkey pushed back and crawled up the gradual incline to the Tadmore saddle 500 meters above sea level. Ominous looking clouds poured over the saddle while the Donkey was slowly approaching. As on cue, as soon as the Donkey arrived at the top the heavens opened and Rain joined headwind in the game of teasing the Donkey. But the Donkey was better prepared this time, put his rain jacket and gloves on and embraced the environment, as his friend and mentor, the old buffalo, had advised him many times before when the Donkey had met climatic and other challenges. The Donkey did contemplate that it was easy for a buffalo to embrace his environment as the environment had a healthy respect for buffaloes. Over the years Environment has thrown everything at the buffaloes but nothing really fazed them, so the environment decided a long time ago to look for other victims, like donkeys.

Today the Donkey was successful in embracing his environment and despite the company of Headwind and Rain he kept his spirits up. Lake Rotoroa was his intermediate goal. He arrived there at midday and stopped off at a backpackers that had a sign advertising coffee and muffins. The place was run by a very old donkey with emphysema and arthritis. He made the Donkey a pot of plunger coffee and served him a muffin bigger than a medium sized SUV. The Donkey decided to stay for a bit and hear the old donkey out. Donkeys are known to take good care of their elderly.

By the time he got back on his bike Rain had disappeared and the clouds had lifted, exposing Lake Rotoroa in its full splendour. The Donkey stopped to make some photos but was immediately attacked by the only dangerous animal inhabiting New Zealand, the notorious sandfly. They live mainly on the West Coast with Lake Rotoroa as their headquarters. They attacked the Donkey in their thousands and the Donkey had no chance against the vicious creatures. He tried to bite back, swung at them with his hoofs, shook his body and his manes and whipped his tail around but all to no avail. Next he poured a bottle of insect repellent over his head but the sandflies just laughed and attacked some more. Spot was more successful in fending of the little critters. When the sandflies tried to penetrate Spot’s steel skin their fangs broke off and they fell to the ground in agony. Spot grabbed his master by his manes and threw him on his back and they were out of there.

The climb out of Lake Rotoroa to the Braeburn saddle was steep and rocky. The Donkey had to keep his wits about him as the loose stones on the gravel road threatened his balance as he was grinding up the hill. What did not help was that he was really itchy from the sandfly bites. It was a torturous ascent. The breeze which met the Donkey when he went downhill on the other side cooled the Donkeys skin and slowly he got his mojo back. He raced rather reckless with a big splash through a number of fords before meeting Showpony and his missus who accompanied him on their bikes into Murchinson where the three friends hunkered down for the night.

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Tot: 1.38s; Tpl: 0.046s; cc: 9; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0259s; 1; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 2; ; mem: 1.3mb