With enormous thanks to Owen Hughes of Dirt Merchants in Wellington for a Saturday evening wheel rebuild, to Chris Hubbard of Pure Sports for the Rohloff spokes, and to Cameron Burnell and Kim Bonnington for lifts, food, music and two lovely overnights, Daisy is BACK ON THE ROAD, and we’re on our way on the ferry and on time to New Zealand’s South Island.
Owen didn’t even want to take any payment for a two-and-a-half hour complete wheel rebuild last night.
Wow – Kiwis rock.
Needless to say, we didn’t leave Owen unrewarded for his generosity, so with Daisy once again in fine fettle (couple of new cables, grease and oil applied where necessary, as well as 32 bright and shiny new spokes), a couple of notes changed hands.
Add to that Kim’s and Cameron’s kindness in feeding and housing and rescuing us from the roadside on Friday with our busted back wheel, we leave the North Island with the warmest feelings towards this country and its folk.
And (beware bad puns ahead) talking of folk, and of notes, though not of rock….
Alongside his day job as news photographer, Cameron – or Dusty as most know him – is NZ’s best player of the folk mandolin, and while we were a’wheel building, he and Kim were at a gig in Wellington with visiting global banjo superstar young Dan Walsh from the UK, current nominee for the BBC’s Radio Two folk musician of the year.
As the magic would have it, Dan was also staying with us at chateau KimAndDusty, so when we all returned late of the evening, Jutta and I were treated to a late-night post-gig impromptu kitchen concert with Dan, Cameron and Kim, and their amazing guitarist Frank Burkitt.
Another Wow – accompanied, it might be added, by liberal lashings of Dusty’s favourite whisky.
So, back to the cycling, we now have more than 1200km and nearly three weeks behind us, and from tomorrow Monday we set about tackling the same distance again plus a bit, down through the South Island and along its dramatic West Coast and back across the Southern Alps (BIG pass coming) through Wanaka and Queenstown to Bluff.
Our version of the Tour Aotearoa looks like falling just a little short of the full 3000km, as we take tandem-friendly sealed-road shortcuts round the gravelly, narrow and overly steep bits, though in the South’s more benign terrain (long slow rises and falls rather than the shorter but relentless and incessant ups and downs of the North) we’re hoping to hew a little more closely to the official route.
We are now being overtaken fairly regularly by the cycling die-hards doing the full tour including all the mountain-bike trails, and travelling faster, lighter, and all of them a good deal younger than us.
But with Daisy now set reliably (we hope) for the rest of the trip, we’re having the time of our lives, and look forward to both hills and downhills, and to being caught up by Katie and Mela as we head into the second half our #TandemTA adventure.