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New Zealand Cycle Tour, Leg 3: Queenstown to Christchurch via Bluff

An Ode to Wind

The lot of a cyclist can be good or bad,

And the governing factor is weather.

The whim of the gods can turn happy to sad,

And bring a man to the end of his tether.

Rain we can take and sun we adore:

We just slap on some more of the cream.

But there’s one weather system that strikes to our core,

With the power to put paid to our dream.

I’m not talking of darkness or locusts or hail;

Such plagues we will take in our stride.

No, what slows our pace to that of a snail,

Is a South Island curse, far and wide.

It is not, you might think, just a bit of a breeze,

Or a freshness to blow our hair back.

I mean massive great gusts that bring sheep to their knees,

And buffet us right off the track.

Our route down to Bluff was straight as a die,

From Queenstown directly down south.

“These next few days will be easy as pie,”

Are the words that slipped out of my mouth.

Now, I’d like to think if I’d tried all my life,

I couldn’t have been any wronger.

For the headwind proceeding to cause us great strife

Could not have been any stronger.

Past farmland and towns, rivers and dykes,

We bore its incredible brunt.

With force enough to knock us clean off our bikes,

We battled the low pressure front.

At least, so we thought, it would be at our backs,

When we reached Bluff and turned it around,

But incredibly we were still stopped in our tracks

Like our wheels had been tied to the ground.

Like a heat-seeking missile the bloody wind changed,

And began now to blow from the north,

It was all just a little bit too well-arranged

And was nearly the end of Danforth.

It pummelled and pushed, and slapped us about,

Causing resentment to fester,

More than once did I crack, shake my cold fist and shout –

“I’ll beat you, you bloody nor’wester!”

I scanned local papers for headlines expecting:

‘Strongest winds since our records began!’

But the topical news was of semen injecting

And to pages and pages it ran.

And so go our days, filled with varied delight:

Logging trucks blow us right off the shoulder,

Each and every kilometre puts up a fight,

And every night I feel thirteen weeks older.

But little by little we outrun the gale,

And away from that fevered farrago,

Making good our escape on the Clutha Gold Trail

And the Rail Trail of Central Otago.

And finally, as a reward for our pain,

The wind dies and forward we lurch

On the long and straight flats of the Canterbury Plain,

To the quake-stricken city – Christchurch.

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