New Zealand post 26: KEEPING OURSELVES ENTERTAINED
We are told that breakfast is included in the room rate. It is on a help yourself basis. We are directed to a small room where there are a few cereals, some instant coffee, milk, sugar and refined bread on offer. We fetch our own bread, since we prefer wholegrain, fetch our own butter, since we don’t do marge, fetch our own coffee and the jetboil plunger, since we don’t do instant. We compare this set-up to the standard offering at the most basic B&B in SA, which is generally extensive & excellent, and wonder why they bother to offer breakfast at all? Must be some sort of legal requirement to call yourself a hotel…
We have noticed that everything in NZ is designed to minimize labour requirements. So strange for us, as it’s quite the opposite back home. I guess in a country of 4.8 million people ( less than Cape Town!), unemployment is simply not a problem. It’s finding people to do the jobs that’s the issue! Things work though, because everyone respects communal spaces, meticulously cleans up after themselves, sorts their trash & plays by the rules.
The ride today is 108km of the flattest road we have ever ridden, with the possible exception of Kansas in the USA. At least here we have hay bales and hedgerows to keep us entertained, whereas in Kansas it was just mile upon mile of corn fields with the proverbial silo way off in the distance, never getting any closer, and always a headwind…
The numerous hedgerows are an ominous reminder of the dreaded “W” word, but mercifully, we have been blessed with a super still day. Steve tucks in behinde me and we are time trialling at 20km an hour and eating up the kilometers. The cold air is making my nose run though and every now and then I yell “Snot”, before putting my finger to my right nostril and letting rip through my left.
” Excellent trajectory”, Steve quips. He is keeping pace admirably. He certainly has gotten fitter in the last 2 weeks!
We admire the various colors of the hay bales neatly stacked across the fields and categorize the farmers accordingly – black and green stripes is “Artsy”; a mix of pink and yellow is “Gay”; grey is “Boring”; blue is ” Optimistic”; black is “Satanic”; green is “Environmentally friendly ” at first, but then he wouldn’t be wrapping in plastic, would he, so he becomes ” Ex-military”, and so we go, photographing each of the colors in turn, with Steve dutifully pointing to the various subjects.
The hedgerows also become a source of delight. We have “Perfect”, ” Muffin top”, “Scraggy”, ” Multi coloured”, etc. etc. I snap away merrily…I spy a good one. “Steve!”, he pulls up, comes to a halt, stands to attention and points to the field on the left, “No man, the hedge on the right!” I say, and we both collapse with mirth. I am still laughing 2 kms down the road…
We reach Winton at 71km in no time. Steve has booked accommodation here, as he was expecting a headwind, but we are not ready to stop. The conditions are too good – no wind, no rain and flat as a pancake. We cancel the booking, have a sarmie lunch ( we toss the sausage) and hit the road again. It’s 37km to Invercargill – Piece of cake in these conditions!
And what happens next? Yes, you guessed it. No sooner are we pedalling again, than the wind comes up and it’s dead in our faces! After 27km we are not quite so chirpy, so when we spy an open pub, we’re in like robber’s dogs ( most places have been closed for 02 Jan).
I think the beer will see me through the last 10km, but shortly I am scratching in my bar bag for a snack. I come up empty, nothing left, not even a lonely sour worm… ” Steve, have you got any food?” He digs in his handlebar bag and hands me a snickers bar. That should do it. But no, a few kms on I am lagging behinde and bonking badly. “Steve!” He comes to a halt and points randomly sideways. I manage a weak laugh and point to his handlebar bag, where I dig around and come up with a roasted nut bar. I down it in 4 bites and slowly start feeling better. I am amazed how I can go for ages feeling fantastic, then out of the blue, I crash & burn.
This flat riding always empties my tank faster than anything, especially in the wind!
We reach Invercargill, go shopping and check into a lovely, spacious motel. I am happy as Larry, luxuriating in the bath with a glass of red wine and a plate of French loaf and camembert! It feels well deserved.
Tomorrow we head for Bluff, the final destination on our North-South mission…