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Monthly Archives: December 2011

day eleven : makarora to haast

Dear G,

Before leaving Queenstown I watched an episode of ‘Sensing Murder’. Which I shouldn’t have since my friend Monica had told me about it previously. It’s a show about psyschics who talk to dead people and solve crimes. I know it sounds crazy and illogical but it was late and I couldn’t sleep. The episode I watched was about this deaf girl who was taken just off the main road and strangled almost to death, and then beaten to death with a brick. Then she was rolled off the road and down a ditch never to be found again. Never watch shows like this – EVER!

Today was the last long ride. And of course it started in a closed, quiet road, that looked perfect for committing murder. And of course I was now in areas untouched by mobile networks. So even if I didn’t get murdered, there was no way to call the police.

It was 80km on a mixture of up’s and down’s. The largest incline was long behind me by 9am. There was another crazy hill down by way of a ‘reward. I was just grateful that the roads were a lot emptier and they were a lot less narrow.

Surprisingly the terrain has changed completely since the ride into Queenstown. It’s almost a little surreal thinking about how much it has changed since then. What was previously dry and arid terrain was now lush and beautiful forestry. There were a number of river beds along the way, but all of them were quite dry. Still it was a different kind of beautiful.

The winds were quite high, this side of the island, and it got a little dicey – but not the end of the world. I did round a corner and I was faced with a stray cow that I had to swerve around. It was mostly black with a white face, as if it was branded with the white hand of Sarumon. It was a bit of a shock, and it just looked at me. I’m telling you they’re trying to get back at me for eating them all.

I didn’t stop at all for today’s ride. Not for lack of want, but because whenever I stopped I was engulfed in a swarm of sandflies that wanted to eat me. So I rode all the way to Haast. When I arrived, my motel was closed so I consumed a giant sundae at the local cafe.

Now I’m lying in a bed massaging my knee. For some time now I’ve been struggling with an ache in the knee and today’s ride ended with me pedalling with just the left leg. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Love & affection.

s.

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day ten : queenstown to makarora

Dear Gerwood,

I think I was more than happy to leave Queenstown behind. It was too busy and too full of delicious steak.

Today I had a three hour bus ride to Makarora. The bus driver was a very friendly man. Paul is an expat from Dublin who had lived and worked in Germany for a few years before moving to New Zealand to a lifestyle that suited his adventurous nature. He was so happy and jolly – also he was in great need of sunscreen. His whole face was red.

He drove us back down the road through Cromwell, where I had already ridden and through to Wanaka, and then Makarora. Before we got to Makarora we stopped at a cafe and being the only person on the bus alone I sat with Paul. He told me about all his adventures travelling around New Zealand and about how he loved driving the bus because he could tell people about the country that he loved and they had to listen to him. He was riding up to Franz Josef where he was going to meet some friends and then travelling down the coast for the new year. He was very kind.

Makarora is just a tourist centre with some A-line cabins attached. There are a few walks, but I was super tired so I read a few papers, read the first few chapters of The Scarlet Letter (seemed appropriate in an A-line cabin) and then slept for about 14 hours. I must have been sleepy and not noticed until I was able to indulge in the sleep.

It was so lovely.

Talk soon G.

s.

day nine : rest day queenstown

Dear Gerwood,

I don’t know how I’m possibly going to get back on a bike tomorrow without throwing up, for today I ate a whole cow. I have been feeling like the cows in the pastures have been giving me accusatory glares since I’ve consumed so many of their kin. One herd even started running alongside the fence as I rode past. Do they want retribution?

There are several things that I have learned in Queenstown:
1) It’s very busy and full of European tourists – which I guess is better than American tourists.
2) In the Qu’ran there is still much knowledge to extract unlike the Christian Bible, from which all that can be known is known. Or at least this was according to the strangely mutli-cultured family (their family resembled my family gatherings) I had creme bruleè breakfast with.
3) One should always eat ribs like it’s going to make love to you later.
4) Botswana Butchery, their steaks, oh my God Francine, their steaks! Uh-maze!
5) Fergburger is also amazing, it’s literally the burger that makes you want to sew your butt shut so it’ll never leave you (not being vulgar, referencing HIMYM)!
6) Gypsy pants & hidden yarn stores with possum and silk yarn.

That’s all I have for you today G.

Love & beef,
s.

day eight : cromwell to queenstown

Dear Gerwood,

Today was the worst! It started with a knee ‘click’, my body was still sore from the Omarama to Cromwell ride, there were strong winds, more ups than downs and I got hit by a car.

Every now and then, usually after I’ve run for too long, or been wearing heels for more than an hour, my knee ‘clicks’. What it feels like is my knee cap popping out of it’s place and I have to jerk my leg to get it back to where it needs to be. That happened this morning when I was packing my panniers. It hurt like an SOB, but at least it distracted from the pain in the rest of my muscles.

The ride was fair enough, but windy. There were some inclines, but nothing compare to the ride to Queenstown from Wanaka – but then again my elevation map lies to me / I don’t know how to read it. The road was narrow, and I mean narrow. I got beeped more than once by cars wanting to pass – but I was riding on the line and they can put themselves in danger by drifting into the other lane since the road wasn’t always gated off from the cliff edge.

Or at least that was my attitude until I got to a hill by a cliff face. It was a pretty steep incline so I was struggling up, but all the while keeping my eye on the line when I felt a strong clip across by roadside pannier. A station wagon passing by had brushed against the pannier and the force pushed my Ride towards the clif face. I, stupidly, tried to compensate by leaning roadside, but a combination of tiredness and the slow speed during the incline pushed me completely off balance. With no time to unclip I fell, heavily, roadside. A car beeped and swerved out of the way, and luckily I was able to jump up in a matter of seconds before anyone drove over my head. The car that had clipped me was long gone. I could have died, but I didn’t. C’est la vie.

But I did get back at drivers once in Queenstown. Needless too say the rest of my ride was grumpy and I practically rode in the middle of the road. Those motor vehiclest could all die in a hole for all I care now. Then at one of the Queenstown round-a-bouts I needed to be in the centre lane to go straight. Queenstown is a major town here and it’s very busy and full of tourists, and cars. I was waiting at the round-a-bout for a gap in the cars when a caravan pulled up behind me and beeped. That was it. Something inside me snapped. I turned around and glared at the man behind the wheel as if to say ‘What? You want me to go into oncoming traffic?’ Then when he rode to overtake me I slammed my hand against the side of his van and gave him the finger as he drove off. Part of me wanted him to stop and pick a fight. I would have picked up my bike and thrown it at him. Okay, so clearly an overreaction and the poor man probably was just letting me know he was there – but I had been hit by a car today.

When I got into town I ate a 200g steak, two sausages, two lamb chops, a half rack of pork ribs, a walnut and blue cheese salad, a bowl of chips, a thing of beer, a large ice cream, and now I’m eating a slice of apple pie with a hot chocolate before yoga stretches and bed. And I had a handful of dried apricots before I went to dinner. And I’m not stuffed, I just feel satisfied.  Today was horrible Gerwood. But a rest day tomorrow and a famous Fergburger 🙂

Love always dear.

s.

day seven : omarama to cromwell

Dear Gerwood,

Today’s ride had every challenge a cyclists could imagine – almost.

I left early because it’s the longest ride on my map at 110kms, and according to the elevation map this included a first 40kms uphill. Before commencing I was a little afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make it, but I started my day with my mantra: gear down, strong arms, lose hands, machine legs and breathe. (Anyone who has gone hiking with me will tell you I do disgusting mouth breathing and maths when under pressure).

The incline was difficult, I can not lie, but it was a good feeling when I reached the top of the hill and then flying down the hill. I reached 80kms and had to slow down to stay within the speed limit. Then at 60kms I discovered that elevation maps are all liars! There was another hill, and after 60kms without a break this just looked like the hill to the 7th ring of hell. I got halfway up the hill when I gave up. I let the Ride drop, pulled out my lunch – another ham sandwich and an apple (New Zealand has the best apples I have ever eaten in my life, and I was born on a tropical island) – and sat halfway up a hill staring out at the dry landscape.

Eventually, of course I overcame the hill and continued to Cromwell. When I got to about 90kms I was hit by some pretty strong winds, which don’t have an immediate effect on the ride, but eventually you start to feel you arms burn because you’re holding your bike upright. The whole ride was starting to take it’s toll by now and my lower back was aching and I really needed to pee… so I stopped by the side of the road and peed out with nature. It was exhilirating!

Just when I thought I was done for – my water and powerade supplies depleted – I saw the sign to turn right to Cromwell. Oh merciful Saviour! I had made it!

I set myself up where I was staying and I didn’t want to miss out on the town of Cromwell so after I showered I walked past the lake and into town. Cromwell is much bigger than the other towns that I’ve been to – they had a mall, and a giant fruit monument. I bought some fish and chips for dinner and some nuts, dried fruit and more apples for lunch the next day.

As I walked back to where I was staying I looked over the lake, and the yellow covered mountains that towered over it. The beauty of this view was breath-taking and again I asked myself how could this be real life? How can the world be so beautiful and so hideously unjust at the same time? Then I wondered briefly why all the beauty I find always exists outside of me? I say briefly because then I walked past a stall that sold fresh fruit ice cream, and soon after I was eating an ice cream cone with fresh raspberries. As far as I was concerned, after a 110km ride that ice cream cone was the most beautiful thing in the world, and I was quickly getting it inside me. YUM!

I fell asleep at 9pm that night. I was too exhausted, and too sore to do anything but sleep.

Tomorrow I ride to Queenstown. I’m almost half way through my trip!

See you soon my dearest!

Love.

day six : lake tekapo to omarama

Dear G,

Today was my first ride after the rest days, and I was itching to get back on the bike. I was ready to leave by 7am, but then I had to wait for breakfast. Then downside to B&B’s is that you politely must have breakfast with your host. Breakfast was delightful, with freshly baked muffins. However, being used to riding on an empty stomach meant that I was throwing up about 10kms into the ride.

The ride today was easy. It was mostly downhill with only a few little inclines. The view was not very beautiful, the landscape here is not so green and a little more dry. There weren’t many farms and the sheep around here are browner than the sheep I’ve seen elsewhere. Which is strange considering how beautiful and lush the glaciers are.

The ride was pretty uneventful – except that it was Christmas Day. I didn’t really notice too much because I celebrated Christmas with the family before I came over. I didn’t really do anything special except have ham sandwiches and an apple in the city of Twizel. Also had a little celebration dance for my beautiful friends Anja and Steve who got engaged in America!

I didn’t explore Omarama at all when I got there. It was a small town under the shadows of the mountains with a service station and probably a supermarket. But everything was closed, it being Christmas and my motel smelled of roast beef – which is my favourite. So I went to my room and ate cheese sandwiches.

Merry Christmas Gerwood, hope it was a lovely day for you.

Always,
s.

day five : geraldine to lake tekapo

Dear Gerwood,

Okay so I caught a bus today to catch me up with my already booked accommodation. A bit of a cop out, but I figure if I ride on non-bus rest days then I’m still getting my fix.

Since I had already mailed my tent to my last hotel and I tore a hole in my sleeping bag on the first night that I used it I decided that it was time to drop that dead weight. So I left the sleeping bag by the bin before heading out for the day. However by the time I got into town my B&B host had caught up to me in his car. He handed me the sleeping bag smiling ‘You’ll be needing this!’ I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I was trying to throw it out, so I took it and placed it on my bike seat. I left it unattached for at least half an hour and no one stole it. Then when I went to the Geraldine farmer’s market – obviously to buy freshly made olive foccacia – the bag dropped off the bike. I tried to leave it there, but about six hippies grabbed it and rushed to give it back to me. ‘Good thing we saw it fall.’ Argh! Who would have thought that abandoning a sleeping bag would be so hard? Eventually I just thew it in a bin, to the shock and horror of all the people around me.

The bus to Lake Tepako was only about an hour, which is depressing when one considers it would have taken me two days to make the same trip.

Lake Tepako is beautiful! The lake is filled with glacial water and it’s a bright blue colour and when you look at it you can’t believe that something so beautiful is real life! I spent about three hours with my feet in the water listening to the CFL sessions over and over again. There’s just something about Canadian football player’s poetry at really speaks to me.

My B&B host was the lovely Rosemary and her husband Whats-his-name. Rosemary is probably the sweetest lady I’ve ever met and she was keen to talk about her daughters (all living in Australia), her church and the town. What-his-name is probably the grumpiest man I’ve ever met and all he wanted to talk about was the construction in Christchurch and the amount of money the government doesn’t have. He was also very condescending to Rosemary. She could do better.

That evening Rosemary invited me to the Carols night at the local church. The church in Tekapo is actually a large attraction, overlooking the lake. I had stopped in earlier that day. The service started at 11pm – I arrived on the dot, but it was already packed with tourists spilling out the door. I was hoping my contact with Rosemary would get me in, like in an exclusive Sydney night club. Apparently Catholic churches don’t treat its parishioners the same way a night club does – who knew? The service was lovely, but cold as I was sitting outside. Then afterwards Rosemary offered me a lift back if I would help them pack up. Since everyone packing up looked over 60 I thought it was best that I help. I looked over at the altar and Rosemary and the Bishop’s wife were drinking deeply from the chalice and laughing loudly – ahhh, nothing is so intoxicating as leftover sacrament.

Then Rosemary took me home and I slept deeply and quickly, it had been a big day of reflecting and soaking my feet in cooling, glacial water.

One day we’ll live in a town with a lake, and we’ll fish and swim and build a fire by which we will sing songs.

Miss you.

xx