New Zealand post 27: CALLING OUR BLUFF
We awake to thunderous rain. I make coffee and take it back to bed, then call reception and extend our stay for another night. We’ll wait for the weather to abate, then ride the 35km to Bluff bagless, so we can tick that box and look forward to a hot bath on our return.
We slowly get up and take our time over breakfast. We pack sandwiches and contemplate the elements. Around 11h00 the rain seems to be letting up, but we’re taking no chances, so we suit up in full wet weather gear and prepare to head out. As we wheel our bikes towards the door, an almighty squall bursts from above. We retreat hurriedly. “I think it’s a sign”, says Steve. “No, no, just be patient, it’ll pass”, and it does. Out we go and 3km down the road, here comes another squall. We duck under cover of some shopfronts. We can see blue sky in the direction we’re headed and this gives us hope.
Out we go again. 10km on I’m getting hot in all this paraphernalia. I strip off my rain hood. That feels better! 5km on I stop to put it back when another squall hits. And so we go, on & off all the way to Bluff. The cross wind is strong. The massive trucks are back on the road with a vengeance, now that the high holidays are over and we are back to falling into ditches. It’s probably one of the worst rides ever – grey, industrial, cold, wet, windy & lethal! But, we are on a mission to reach the Southernmost town on the NZ mainland.
We do just that and it’s nothing to write home about. The best thing about it is the sign! But it’s good to have an end point to journey towards, as long as we remember that it’s the journey itself that counts in the end.
We celebrate with sandwiches and iced coffee and then I turn my face into the wind for the return journey, while Steve digs in his heels and insists we should hitch a ride. “No, come on, let’s ride!”, “It’s a waste of time!”, “What else we gonna do?”, “It’s miserable, windy & dangerous!”, ” It’s a challenge!” ping, pong, ping, pong…
“Ok, you hitch, I’ll ride. Bye, see you in Invercargill…” and I put my head down and pound away into the blustering wind. I won’t lie, it’s very hard work, but crazy as it may sound, I’m actually having fun. When physical adversity rears it’s head, I welcome it with open arms, while Steve ducks for cover. When emotional adversity rears it’s head, Steve has a huge, calm well of reserves that he calls on, while I tend to be on more shakey ground. We’re just wired differently that way.
After about 8km, a car pulls up on the opposite side of the road. The driver rolls down his window. ” You going to Invercargill?”, “Yep”, ” Wanna lift?” ,
” But are you going that way?”, ” I passed you earlier and turned around…” ,” Uhmm, well, my husband’s back there trying to hitch a lift…”, “Ok, I’ll go get him…” and off he zooms. I keep riding along until they pass me and pull over. I’m quite disappointed, as I’d prefer to keep going, but it would be rude not to accept and Steve gives me the look, which says, “don’t even think about it…” He whips my bike away and has the wheels off in no time. Jeff, who lives in Bluff and knows this road, proceeds to tell us how crazy the wind gets and how dangerous the big trucks are. ” I just had to turn around when I saw you” he says, ” I would never have forgiven myself if I’d heard news of a cyclist bring hit by a truck in this wind!” He drops us at our motel and we thank him profusely for his thoughtfulness. My hot bath doesn’t feel quite do deserved, but it’s lovely nevertheless.
We use the remainder of the day to plan our next moves. We only have 9 more days before we need to be back in Wellington and we still want to see Dunedin & Christchurch and ride The Ghost Road. We need to book busses, trail permits & accommodations. Thank God for Google!
We also take advantage of this fabulous motel suite to cook up roast chicken with all trimmings. We decimate every last scrap! I love the appetite that cycle touring gives me, not just for food, but for Life in general. It brings me intensely into the present moment, puts everything under the spotlight and makes me so grateful to be Alive & Healthy!