New Zealand post 6: BECOMING ROAD KILL
Since we have a fully fledged kitchen in the campsite, we decide to forgo our usual oats this morning and opt instead for eggs and toast. We hardboil the excess to take along, then leave the perfect bike path behind as we head out of town and veer off towards Murchison. We are on quiet country roads and hardly see any cars. It’s all about hops, sheep, cows, llamas , Rose’s & strawberries – so idyllic, lush and green!
Then after 30km we get a rude awakening, when the country roads run dry and we are forced to take the highway. We are clearly fair game along with the rabbits, hedgehogs, possums and stoats! The massive logging trucks fly by and don’t give an inch. In 10km I count 5 squashed carcasses. We don’t want to join their number, so hug the left hand side of the road as closely as possible. Steve rides behind with his helmet mirror and shouts for me to dive into the ditch when it’s looking really dodgy. The scariest is when there’s a barrier on the left and nowhere to dive. Then we have to stop speedily and press ourselves and our bikes up against the barrier – it’s positively hair raising. What a contrast to yesterday’s perfect path!!
When we reach a turn off onto a dirt road, we consult the map and see that it’s a 10km detour. We take it without hesitation – anything to get off the highway from Hell!
Next we encounter our second hazard of the day and one that seems likely to dog us throughout our trip, if local knowledge is anything to go by. We stop for a picnic lunch by the roadside and within seconds we are swarmed by midges. They brutally attack any hint of exposed flesh and doggedly resist all swattings and flailings of the arms. We omit some choice expletives as we hurriedly wolf down our sandwiches and bolt off – movement is the only deterrent! Looks like we may have to pack sandwiches and eat on the fly in future. What a shame, as roadside picnics are such an integral and enjoyable part of bike packing!
When we pull into a coffee shop a few km down the road, the hostess smiles knowingly as we relate our woes and hands us a spray bottle with her family’s age old remedy – Dettol and baby oil. She swears it’s the only thing that works. Of course she’s selling little bottles for $2 and if course we buy some. I use it while sitting outside at dinner and the little buggers swarm all around my body, but don’t actually sit on me. Excellent – local knowledge is everything!
We are thoroughly knackered when we pull into our campsite at 96km. The whole rigmarole of putting up the tent, showering, washing clothes, etc is taxing, but honestly we can hardly complain. There are spotless bathrooms with hot showers, soap and even a hair dryer, a laundry and a fully stocked kitchen with clean water straight out the tap – no washing in the freezing river, squatting in the Bush, burning toilet paper, purifying water, cooking on the sand, etc. No, this is luxury compared to our recent destinations!
We are no less shattered though. If anything the luxury living is making us soft.
And on that note, I’d better get to bed – 120km to cover tomorrow…