Day 2 - Too wit for wimps

Published: February 21st 2018
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Christ, it knows how to rain here. The cyclone split in two, clobbered places north and south of where we were and pretty much left us alone. So Day 2 of the tour dawned bright and beautiful, with departure planned for nine o’clock.

And therefore, when we were still faffing about at ten thirty, it was bound to mean trouble ahead, trouble in the form of rain. Heavy rain. Heading south from Nelson, it took fourteen glorious minutes of riding in sunshine for us to encounter the first splash of the stuff.

Hah! I thought. Cunningly, we had brought our BMW Rallye 3 suits that had a gore-tex inner lining for just such an eventuality. These liners were stored in the panniers. But since the tough exterior Cordura fabric would probably hold out until we got through this obviously localised shower, we pressed on with smug optimism.

We were at the head of the group and pulling away. Then we were on our own – they had wisely stopped to put on their wet weather gear. We continued for another half hour regardless, getting soaked, as if we were leading some middle distance running race and the rest of the field were bunched up, half a lap behind, tactically racing for second place when we had obviously secured first.

We pulled in at sightseeing stop – a twenty km round trip to Lake Rotoiti. It was raining so hard we couldn’t see the sides of the lake and didn’t take a picture – so here is one that someone else took on a nice day. We did, however, put our waterproof liners on under our jackets. Just the jackets, mind, since we were wearing motor cycling jeans on account of the fact that the trousers to our suits had shrunk over the last few years, as I explained yesterday.

We rendezvoused with the group at lunchtime in Murchison. It brightened up again, probably because we were not on our bikes so we were able to peel off the sodden layers and laugh it off as just one of those things. Massive lunchtime portions of soup, cake and chpps were consumed. A quick refuel, then onward.

Onward into the rain. Agin.

By the time we got to New Zealand State Highway 7, Maruia 7895, i.e. the Alpine Motor Inn and Café Pam had several inches of water in her new ankle boots, was soaked to the skin through her gloves, jeans (unlined) and a lot of the jacket. More cake was needed. In fact Pam now did something that she did not do on the entire Africa trip…she bailed.

A minute before she was declaring that travelling in the minibus was for wimps. The next she was snuggling up in a back seat with some other bloke’s fleece. Typical.

Unencumbered by my wife, I took off to do the remaining 90km to Hamner Spings, our evening destination. By this time the roads were clearer although it was still pouring, and I loved it. I had reached that state whereby I wasn’t getting any colder and was comfortable with the level of wetness – a bit like being in a bath that is nowhere near as hot as you would like but not quite cold enough that you have to get out immediately. My mind was on the road, the bike, the rhythm of the curves. The river to my right looked like Anduin from Lord of the Rings, but not so I was later informed.

The road conditions were pretty hairy, mainly because of the rain. However, John had also warned us of a certain species of car driver that had a Chinese driving licence, had not actually owned a car in China for over twenty years, yet was still on holiday, here in NZ, in a rental vehicle. I saw two such specimens that had recently crunched the Armco on the left side of a right hand bend and bounced round to be facing back toward me but in the right hand lane. They looked a little bewildered by their manoeuvre, but no harm done. I crunched my way through the debris at 80kph with a chortle, waving cheerily to them.

NZ also has single track bridges that they throw into two lane roads. Of course they give plenty of warning but, sometimes, you know, people just don’t twig what’s about to happen to them. Like the bloke who had smacked the single track bridge entrance and nearly punched his was through the other side. Great fun. Better than bungee jumping.

I got to the new B&B at Hanmer Springs before the others, and was checked in by my host, Linn (a name I had not heard before, but after saying “sorry?” several times whilst he pumped my hand in greeting, he informed me it was short for Linnard). Oddly there was a room with a full-size snooker table, but no bar.

Linn told me that this weather is highly unusual and that they had had hose pipe bans earlier this year and normally have hot, dry summers in the South Island. Furthermore, he exclaimed that “This is the third cyclone this year and it is all Donald Trump’s fault”. Hard to argue with.

What do you want after a hard, cold ride? Hot Springs of course! And that’s what they have, here in Hanmer. But its too late, they close at four. Tomorrow then before we leave.

Diner brilliant again. Tomorrow I will start a character assassination against my fellow tour companions.


Tot: 0.055s; Tpl: 0.016s; cc: 9; qc: 62; dbt: 0.0172s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb