125km in one day, and hilliest ride ever! Day17 of #TandemTourTA of NZ, from Mangaweka to Palmerston North

Daisy, gorgeous, and the gorges of southern North Island.

My goodness me, that was one hilly, long, hard-working, but utterly brilliant cycling day.

From Mangaweka on State Highway One with all its lorries, off east into deepest North Island back country along the official Tour Aotearoa route along which Katie and Mela and the other 300 registered riders will be coming in a few days’ time.

We lift up our eyes unto the hills, whither ebbeth our strength. 

Jutta and I tandemed 240km in one day through East Germany from West Berlin to the West in 1979, but that was nearly 40 years ago, we were a LOT younger and stronger – and yesterday at half the length but much more height (North Germany is flat!) was pretty much up there with that experience.

The hills, the hills.
Backroads clinging to the sides of the gorges near Mangaweka

We’ve now reached Palmerston North, three riding days short of Wellington at the bottom of the North Islsand, and need to nip into the Kathmandu sporting shop this morning to buy a new raintop, after the failure of my Goretex – which proved to still be leaking nastily when I tested it under the shower this morning after its Mangaweka makeover.

Fellow therapist Shawn reminds me that these things have a lifetime guaranteee, so, hello Goretex, one jacket coming back your way for replacement in the spring.

New Zealand has many of these delightful old steel-girder bridges, often rail but this one road. Cliffs too…

Former BBC colleague Malcolm Brabant asked on Facebook if a tandem, in effect with two to power it and only one wind-resistance, was faster than a single bike.

The answer is yes and no – slower for the bloke as skipper. On my identical Thorn Bikes solo, I average, with the same load, 10mph or so, unless it’s mega-hilly. On the tandem, we average perhaps one or two miles an hour less (fewer?) – but if I’m going slower, Jutta is most definitely going faster than she would on a solo.

Some can do it, like Steve and Annette our delightful cycling hosts in Auckland who visited us in the UK on two solos last summer. But Jutta and I are undoubtedly a better travelling partnership on one bike.

My favourite comment about what tandeming does for a partnership? As well as getting you both fit, it will quite simply drive your relationship further in the direction it is already travelling.

Noisy little things, these bugs. Chirping away and clicking their legs. Can anyone tell us what they are?
Jutta showing how crickets use their wing cases to make that clicking noise.
Windfarms overlooking Palmerston North

As ever, this is a lighthearted blog – we’re enjoying taking a break from the drama and emotional work that comes with weekly psychotherapy, and the journeying up and down to London.

But let me conclude today’s entry with a sad farewell to a long-standing client, a young man who’d had a tough life, but in therapy really began to sort himself out in a most warming and indeed inspiring way, learning to taking responsibility for himself in the here and now.

Fourteen months ago he was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer, and since then, we’ve in effect (talking weekly for our usual hour, often on the phone or Skype, as he loved Spain) been preparing for his death.

As Jutta and I packed up to leave the UK for these two tandeming months to Easter, my client and I pretty much knew we would not see each other again.

As therapists, we offer a professional service, of course, but the relationships we build with our clients can run very deep.

So before leaving for New Zealand, I decided to drive down to this young man’s home town to say goodbye – while of course still hoping as we both did that, despite the doctors’ advice that he would be unlikely to make it beyond March, his fortunes would turn.

Three weeks later, this last weekend, I heard that, yes, his time came on Sunday.

Therapy, and the EMDR about which I am so passionate and which changed this young man’s life, can be an extraordinary journey. So from one traveller to another now departed, thanks for letting me join you for a while.

2 responses to “125km in one day, and hilliest ride ever! Day17 of #TandemTourTA of NZ, from Mangaweka to Palmerston North”

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