Boy, do I need a faster laptop for my next big bike journey (and maybe some classier shades?)
Lovely little Acer netbook, but it gets into the biggest spin (as Sue found out in India in the spring) when you ask it to do more than two things at once.
It’s taken me nearly three hours to say this, (to compound the Acer’s crawl, Wanaka has no free WiFi, curious), but today was One Almighty Riding Day, taking me and Raven across New Zealand’s highest tarmacked (Tarmacced? Tarmaked? – I know it needs to be capitalised, but not how to spell it) road, the Crown Range Pass at 3,500 feet between Queenstown and Wanaka.
Wow. Not just 3,500 feet, but 2 knees and 1 neck – and mine made it.
MOST gratifying, as I (started to) write this blog in the gloriously-named Wanakabakpaka lodge, where Kat worked for a time on reception when she first came to New Zealand nearly four years ago, and which (rather like Findhorn) gives me a wonderful glow of feeling less than utterly ancient, and, like Sue found in India, inspired by the young.
The view left, out over Lake Wanaka on a glorious summer’s day (weep and be envious, you UK-dwellers) is one of the best anywhere.
I’m pleased to have ridden up all the way today without pushing, and in parts, believe me, It Was Steep.
Kat tells me that, when she first arrived in NZ in January 2009 with her own bike and tent (sadly nucked, OK, nicked, when her car was broken into in the North Island some months later, so maybe it’s only in the South that Kiwis are honest), she was so nervous about this Crown Range ride that she waited first a week in Queenstown and then a further four days in Arrowtown before setting out.
She did make it, proudly, with help from a fellow camper who took lumps of her baggage by car.
So now that we’ve both done this, a few years apart and in our own ways, is a very special thrill. The Katie Brayne memorial ride continues…
The run down the sunny North face of the Crown Range (takes a bit of getting used to here how that it’s the north gets all the sun) into Cardrona and on to Wanaka was thoroughly lovely – though I discovered conclusively and rather frustratingly that whatever the gradient, Raven can’t muster more than 35 mph flat out.
The panniers, and the rider’s bulk, act as formidable airbrakes, but perhaps that’s as well.
If we were on Sunshine, our tandem, with Sue on the back, we’d have to crawl down with all brakes clamped to rim, or risk a torrent of bloodcurdling screams from the back worthy of Dracula in full flight – as I once indeed survived coming off the top of a pass with Sue in 2009 in, yes, Transsylvania.
Strange thing, this blog.
As many of my old friends know, I’ve long maintained that I loathe writing, which was why I had to get out of journalism.
But, it seems I don’t loathe writing this blog. Hmmm. Quite the contrary. Perhaps it’s to do with writing what I want to write and not having to worry about impressing editors and a picky public.
The upshot, for the moment at least, will be a little more writing here in the coming days. Though tomorrow, I launch out into the unknown, taking the largely, I’m told, internet- and mobile coverage-free road north-west and then north-east past the glaciers of the NZ Alps and the coast road up through the rainforest.
In the morning, however, a visit to the Wanaka physio. Just to check that the knee really is behaving itself.