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Published: March 19th 2018
Day 22: Haast to Wanaka, 152km. Life's a bitch and then you die.
The Donkey woke up the next morning with Rain patiently waiting outside. Rain did not want to make the same mistake as last time (day 20) when he lost most of his contents while the Donkey was standing, waiting indoors, laughing, behind the safety of the sliding doors of his Top Ten holiday Park motel unit, till the worst was over. This time Rain timed it better, holding himself back, but he was bursting to overflowing so had to let go of some showers. The Donkey set of in a drizzle at 7.30 a.m. on the Haast Pass Highway with Wanaka his destination for the day. When Rain decided that the Donkey was far enough from Haast so that it was unlikely that he would turn around and go back, he opened his bladder and started to piss down. He grabbed as many empty buckets as he could hold, filled them up and tipped them upside down, all at once, on the poor head of the Donkey and for good measure he opened all the hoses he could reach and grabbed as many cats and dogs as
he could and threw them at the Donkey. But the Donkey was determined. His intermediate goal was to get across the Haast Pass to Makarora, the halfway point. The Donkey was prepared for Rain, fully dressed in protective gear including his rain hat. But it did not help much as it rained so hard that the rain went straight through his jacket, hat and pants and his hoofs were squashing in his shoes. On top of that the Donkey got very hot so the perspiration from his skin had nowhere to go, which increased the wetness of the Donkeys three layers of clothing up to maximum level. Tailwind felt sorry for the Donkey and tried to butt in to give him a hand but Rain kept pushing Tailwind away. It was a gradual climb to the start of Haast Pass which started proper 50km into the ride. The Donkey knew he was there when the steepness of the road suddenly increased tenfold and he had to go into his smallest gear. The one thing about the rain, thought the Donkey optimistically, is that it brings out the waterfalls. He was right; everywhere around him the mountains were spewing tons of
water down their sides which such force that at times the Donkey got sprayed with wet even more, not that it mattered, as he could not get any wetter, he might as well have biked in his speedo’s, except that the Donkey was now getting really cold as the temperature had dropped to single figures near the summit of the pass. Here the Donkey had to make a control point photo, but the rain was so dense that the Donkey did not know what was up or down or left or right so he made a photo of Rain close to where he thought the summit was.
This was the moment that the Donkey suddenly cried out “life’s a bitch and then you die”. He was not sure where it came from, somewhere deep inside. Nobody had heard him except for Rain who got a fright, he did not mean for the Donkey to die as he wanted to be able to bully him some more in the future, it was too much fun. He was nearly empty anyway so he decided to retreat after the Donkey had reached Makarora. The Donkey arrived at the Makarora cafe chilled and
wet to his bones. Inside he found Showpony, looking comfortable behind a double shot flat white and a newspaper. He went up to his friend and stood behind him but Showpony was engrossed in the paper and did not notice the dripping donkey right behind him. So the Donkey said booh and Showpony jumped about a meter high from fright and they both had a good laugh. And there was another good friend of the Donkey, a kookaburra, who lives in Wanaka and who had decided to meet the Donkey in Makarora. He had followed the Donkey on the tracking system so he knew exactly where he was.
The Donkey had a feed of chicken pie and chips, washed it down with a milkshake and changed into a set of dry clothes and he felt much better. The Kookaburra had brought his mountain bike and joined the Donkey for the stretch to Wanaka. The Donkey said an emotional farewell to Showpony as he would not see him till Bluff, that is, if the Donkey would make it to Bluff as riding up the Haast Pass he had put his back out which was now gradually tightening up. Rain had
enough and Tailwind made a re-appearance and everything went swimmingly except that the Donkey could only sit in one fixed position on his bike as every move caused a stabbing pain in his lower back. Kookaburras are known to be chatterboxes and the Donkey’s friend was known to be one of the best. It was good as it made the time go faster. The Donkey was happy, despite his back, and started thinking that perhaps he could do this thing and get to Bluff after all, even with his sore back, but that was a mistake. Spot’s front tire suddenly lost pressure and went down fast, bugger, a flattie, the Donkey called out to the kookaburra. They stopped and replaced the inner tube of the tire without too much trouble but then, 20 minutes later the same tire went down again. The Donkey thought he heard a wee giggle just before it happened and suddenly he realised that it was Spot who had caused the puncture deliberately and he was right. Spot had been stewing about his master’s casual remark a few days earlier about his fat tires. Spot had not liked it as he is a little vain. Today came his revenge, he could have done it that morning, in the pouring rain, but he thought that might have been a bit too much for his master so he waited till now, till his boss was happy and already planning for the next few days.
The second puncture was more serious as the Donkey had no more spare tubes and he had no repair kit as that was still with Showpony. The kookaburra had an old mountain bike with 26 inch wheels, Spot’s wheels were 29 inch, so that was not going to work either and of course the kookaburra did not have a repair kit with him either, kookaburras never do. The Donkey thought about solutions, as he had learned that for most problems there is always a solution, but only if you stay calm and think. The two friends went through the options. Kookaburras are smart so he helped with the thinking process. The Donkey could walk further, or keep pumping the tire up while he was riding although that would be difficult or they could call for help except that they had no cell phone coverage where they were along the shores of Lake Hawea.
The two friends were mucking about with the tires, filling in time till the solution would present itself, which it did in the form of the bulldog from security who came past and who carried a repair kit (of course). The Donkey quickly fixed the leak following the instructions from the bulldog as it had been a long time ago that the Donkey had patched a leaking tire as roadies tend to just replace them. The Donkey apologised to Spot about his insensitive remark and Spot promised to behave and on their merry way they went along the cycling trails of the Hawea and Clutha rivers till they reached the home of the kookaburra at 7 p.m. The kookaburra’s wife, a beautiful tirairaka, had cooked the Donkey and the kookaburra a wonderful meal with salmon as the main dish (the Donkey closed his brain to how the salmon was caught) and ice cream and strawberries as desert.
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