Before I go ANY further, you must listen to what’s been waking me up pretty much every morning at five for the past two weeks of camping.
Tui birds chattering to each other, and quite clearly having a conversation. The most lovely – unsleepable-to – sound, captured on my mobile phone today. About a minute long, and do listen all the way through.
So, back to what I was going to say…
First, here are the pictures for the last two days on Google+. Also, click on any of the pictures in this post, (except the Tui, which will bring up the recording) and they’ll take you to the album. I hope.
The less good news today (last night, actually, but I couldn’t get a WiFi signal), from a delightful forest campsite in Nelson at the top of the South Island, is that Monday was a VERY, very, VERY wet day, grinding away at the 85 miles/130k from Murchison over Hope Saddle at nearly 3000 feet to Motueka in the middle of the NZ South Island north coast.
But the very good news (besides the sheer fun of this all, and those wonderful Tuis) is that the human body (this one anyway) really doesn’t seem to mind getting drenched, as long as it’s warm (which it is, the days being just about at their longest in these parts), and also that Ortlieb panniers (being German as well engineered for their purpose as the Rohloff hub is for what it does) do what they say.
They are truly WATERPROOF!
It was therefore most reassuring to arrive, after nearly eight hours in the saddle late on Monday, at the Top Ten campsite in Motueka with all my important gear (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping gear, towel, inflatable mattress) dry – though massively less reassuring as I tried to check in to realise that I had left my wallet at the Nelson Honey shop 40 miles ago, with ALL my money, credit cards and my driving licence.
But New Zealanders are nothing if not friendly and helpful, and on Wednesday morning, Taylor car hire in Motueka were happy to lend me a small Toyota for just NZ$30 (about £15, honest)) + petrol, without any paperwork at all, to belt back up the Motueka River (which Kat and I hugely enjoyed 18 months ago driving south straight into the most astonishing early morning full moon) to Motupiko to collect the wallet, safely discovered where I’d left it.
Of where I’d lift it, as they say here. And rather than picking it up or collecting it, in NZ-speak I uplifted it! Amusing, not dispiriting, to realise of course that I drove a distance in less than 40 minutes which the day before took me four hours to cycle…)
I was probably confused yesterday by a combination of being utterly soaked (the £200 Gortex top did a very good job, but in that kind of rain, even the best Endura trousers, waterproof Nike SPD shoes and shoe spats were pretty useless), by not being able to take my usual photographs with my now fairly ancient Sony Alpha One digital SLR camera all fogged up, and above all by an ENORMOUS ice cream, with more calories and fat than I think I’ve ever consumed in one go.
I did regret it, feeling a tad nauseous as pedalled on down the long gentle hill into Motueka, but did that stop me having another one this morning, generously donated on the house by the delightful team at Nelson Honey who had kept my wallet safe?
And did I regret that ice cream a second time?
Which is partly why I didn’t get quite as far yesterday as I perhaps should have.
But still, all continues very, very well. The body and bike are both behaving themselves as well, better in fact, than I could have dared hope.
After well over 700 miles, I’m finding that going up hills is, mostly, a bit like just changing down a gear and keeping the accelerator pressed. The legs just respond, although there are moments when I have to stop completely and wonder, looking up, if I’m going to make it.
I always do.
Also, the neck, hand and foot pains associated with the old nerve injury have completely disappeared. Moral of the story (on which I will write a much fuller blog post in due course)? For nerve injury, if you can do it, cycle at least a few hundred miles. Works a treat.
So, with thanks to those new followers of the blog (and especially for some excellent advice from Alexscycles about best bike computers – nothing quite as fancy as my now U/S Garmin Edge 705- , it’s onwards tomorrow, a hard and apparently very hilly 75 miles/115k to some English émigré friends of Cantores soprano Nathalie in Anakiwa, just short of Picton where the ferry will take me on Friday to the North Island.
And then, a quick dash, possibly with some help from trains, to Kat and Mela in New Plymouth for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. A family Christmas after all – lovely.