The reintroduction of the temporary direct flights from Kerikeri to Wellington has given me the opportunity to get to the South Island and resume my Tour of Aotearoa, albeit, not quite in the sequence that was originally intended. For those of you that are interested, you can see my intended route on the Google map below. Click on the image to load the map.
My intention to be ‘match fit’ hit a couple of obstacles. After a great start to the week, the wheels literally came off yet again. This time, I decided that I needed to clean the bike after riding over some very dusty roads. While washing the rear wheel there was a worrying metallic noise which I definitely should not have been hearing. A broken spoke! Given that it was the rear wheel, a backup option of riding it as a unicycle was out of the question so I had to pop down to the cycle shop and do a little grovelling to get it fixed before I boarded the plane a few days later. With the surge in cycling popularity, the cycle shop seems to be perpetually busy and you usually need to book a time slot weeks in advance. They were obliging but it meant no ‘training for a couple of days. I picked the wheel up as the rain started to fall(again) but decided that I needed to harden up and ride anyway. That went well until the volume of water falling out the sky reduced visibility to dangerous levels, in the process proving that even my so called quality wet weather apparel could not live up to it’s reputation. It is still raining as I write this – 24 hours later.
Tuesday arrived on schedule and in the absence of any lockdown I duly boarded my flight to Wellington. “A little breezy in the capital today” was the pilots understated announcement. Having flown into the city in fairly breezy conditions on a number of occasions I prepared for a ‘white knuckle’ landing. I was not disappointed. As I entered the terminal I got a message from Air NZ advising that my next flight might be cancelled due to the weather conditions. This was kind of, good news/bad news. I really wanted to get to Nelson but I was not sure that I wanted to die in the attempt.
The flight left on time and my bike arrived as well, promising start. The taxi driver was very concerned when I responded to the expected ‘so you live in Wellington’? Um no, I flew down from Kerikeri – “are you double vaxed?”, “did Air NZ ask you for proof of vaccination” mmm I got the impression that I was not welcome. He told me that he had recently flown across the Strait but did not venture north of Welly in case he became the jerk that brought Covid South. I was feeling so guilty that as I hurriedly disembarked from the cab, I forgot my backpack and then had to inflict a little more northern exposure on him when he dropped it off. Best I just omit to tell people where I am from.
The really big challenge of the day was putting my kit set bike back together. How did I get a knot in the chain? Ruth asked me if I had any screws left over, I told that the only issue with screws was the loose one in my head.
But perseverance prevailed and I was able to take the bike for a 60km warm up around the Nelson/Tasman district. Tomorrow the real riding begins and I hope to get to Kumara on the West Coast by the end of the first week – via Nelson Lakes National Park.