New Zealand Cycle Tour, Leg 2: Westport to Queenstown

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Well it’s been a very exciting game since you last tuned in when Team Hedgehog got off to a flying start around the north end of Pounamu. Flattened bristles decorated acres of tarmac up around Murchison and it seemed as though the competition might have been won in the first few days. Hedgehog domination was challenged later on however by Team Stoat, who were so keen to get on the scoreboard that they were literally trying to run under Paul’s wheels. Fortunately they avoided the technical foul thanks some dynamic handling by the Ginger Cornishman.

Local favourites Team Mice never really got started and it was a disappointing performance from Team Rabbit, who were really the favourites before the start of the match. It’s as if their team coach got lost on the way to the starting line. Team Dragonfly followed in the appalling footsteps of Team Bumblebee and were disqualified on account of having died of natural causes. There’s always someone trying the spoil the spirit of the game.

The competition took a turn for the interesting when we turned south down the rugged West Coast in the first days of 2015 and the buzzword of the week was ‘possum’. Yes, the cute invaders showed little interest in the title until around Hokatika when we entered a stretch of road now known as Dead Possum Alley. The sheer number of corpses was impressive and you could tell that Team Possum’s coach had been giving them some very robust words during the break after Leg 1. Such was their dedication that their score soon became more than twice as great as that of their nearest rivals, the fading Team Hedgehog, and the match was nearly called early as a whitewash.

It stayed that way until the Haast Pass over the Southern Alps took us away from possum territory and the much-vaunted crossing of the Crown Range between Wanaka and Queenstown. Bam! Early non-starters Team Rabbit (with a little help from sub-Team Hare) literally exploded onto the field. Heads, feet and little cotton bobtails littered the playing area, some so old and pancaked as to be barely recognisable. One trooper had been on the road so long he was sponsored by Adidas, or at least he was sporting a thick white stripe across his back from the highway line-painting truck.

With Teams Rabbit and Possum now neck and neck, or spleen and spleen to be more accurate, the game is wide open. Personal favourites Team Hedgehog have recently made another play for the lead but as we enter the straight down to Bluff there’s plenty of opportunity for the players to jockey for position. It’s been a bloody good ride so far and we hope to smell many more classic moves before we’re done. Over to you, Harry…

Total Distance Travelled: 1037km

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