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New Zealand Cycle Tour, Leg 4: Christchurch to Picton

It’s over; done and dusted; completo. The largest continuous expenditure of energy of my life has come to an end. I wondered back at the beginning whether this would be one of those trips that I hoped would last forever, and that I’d be really sad to finish. Well, it wasn’t, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. Almost every day there was something to enjoy, even if it was only briefly. And I’d like to think I wasn’t ‘over it’ until the very end. My body and mind are good like that – they time themselves to be ‘over it’ at the exact end point, and in a way that’s the best result one can hope for.

But that’s neither here nor there. Given the almost total lack of information contained in my last two blog posts I thought I’d better tie up some loose ends in the remote chance there might be somebody interested. I’ve tried to mix it up a little over the last couple of posts; I mean, who wants to read about “I did this,” then “I did that,” etc. I quite agree, but sometimes one has to write formulaic-like in order to impart some actual information. So, here are some of the highs and lows of the trip (in no particular order):

Highs – the way our completed route looks on a map of the South Island; mountain biking the Queen Charlotte Track after getting back to Picton; meeting up with David & Mike from Earth Sea Sky; camping on a deserted west coast beach on a perfect evening; ditto an east coast beach; lamb’s liver & mash at JJ Murphy’s Irish bar in Wellington; mixed salted nuts and bhuja; playing the journo card to get a free jet boat ride; the Roxburgh Gorge Trail; sampling NZ’s selection of craft beers; the unexpected beauty of crossing the Kakanui mountains; finishing what we started.

Lows – the damn sand flies on the west coast; various pains in parts of my body; sinus trouble every time I drank beer; my click-stand breaking and causing my bike to fall over repeatedly; the same food almost every single day; arguing with Paul over the route, how far to cycle, where to camp etc; not really seeing any of the sights; continuous headwinds; my chain & rear cassette being totally worn out; having to cancel the hike out of Queenstown; missing Gerda.

And here are some statistics on the completed ride:

Total distance ridden: 2270km

No. riding days: 29

No. rest days: 3

Average distance per day: 78.3km

Longest day: 115km

Shortest day: 38km

No. nights in a bed: 5

No. punctures: 0

Average daily costs: $50

Will I ever go cycle touring again? I don’t know; maybe not. I was very worried about my knees at one point. Within five pedals of starting on New Year’s Day it felt like someone was trying to prise off my left kneecap with a screwdriver, but fortunately I bolstered my patellas with full-time painkillers for the rest of the trip, and that dulled the screwdriver sensation to that of a butter knife and I was able to continue. And here’s a tip: if, when you were young, the adults whose laps you sat on always complained about your ‘bony bum’, you probably don’t have the right body for cycle touring. I mean, I think I actually bruised my arsebone.

But, you know, the memory of the pain will fade and I might forget it altogether and agree one day to cycle across the Tibetan Plateau, or Ladakh or somewhere equally steep. Maybe the only thing that will save me further pain is to re-read this blog every couple of years. “DON’T DO IT, DAN! IT BLOODY HURTS, REMEMBER?”


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