It is bucketing down with rain yet again in what has been one of the wettest winters we have experienced here is the ‘winterless north’. Apparently we can blame the La Nina weather pattern that has been lingering around for a couple of years and is reportedly intending to do so for yet another summer (a record – yay!). Bad news for those of us that live in the North it is something of a double edged sword. For the trees that we have planted over winter, a wet spring and summer is ‘just what the doctor ordered’. However, for for endless days of cloudless skies and low humidity, forget it – migrate south.
That is what I am going to do, well for few weeks at least, from late Spring and into early Summer. We (I am riding with Hard core Howard of February 2022 fame) are going to ride from Picton to Queenstown starting on 18 November. This will be a 1,460km ride (excluding KM getting lost and found again) with over 14,000m of climbing. Howard will be riding his trusty e-bike (as long as we keep the motor dry while attempting one of the many river crossings) and I will again be on my trusty c-bike (powered by Cliff and dependent upon adequate sustenance and rest). The ride has some pretty challenging components such as a ride through Molesworth Station and later over New Zealand’s highest public road (Duffers Saddle at 1,275m) followed by 60+km through the remote Nevis Valley and, of course, despite the ongoing pandemic, the tourists are back in town which will make those few ventures onto highways that little bit more interesting. Also interesting will be stays on two high country sheep stations – we get to be urban shearers for the night – well sleeping in shearers quarters, let’s not get too carried away.
Unlike my last ride through the South where a big challenge was finding accommodation that was actually operating, this time we need to book early to ensure we have a place to park our heads at the end of each day, especially in those remoter areas where there are limited options. Unfortunately, with booking comes a commitment to riding regardless of the weather conditions – well up to a point. As I write, roads along parts of our route are washed out and wind gusts have been at cyclist destroying velocity. In the event that we are unlucky enough to encounter those conditions, any enforced layday would need to be spent recalibrating the rest of our ride, assuming we have phone coverage and available options.
In between the biblical rainfall I have been trying to keep my ‘match fitness’ up but my ‘winter wimpiness’ has resulted in less than optimal bum-on-seat time. However, I have managed to get around 100-120km a week in plus participation in the regular working bees down on the Wairoa Stream that seem to be far more regular than the ‘contracted’ fortnightly intervals. We suggested that it was time for a pay raise which the boss immediately and very generously agreed too, a 100% increase! I kid not. But his generosity stems from the fact that our time is all given voluntarily. Still, pay is not everything. This winter we have blasted through 20,000 being the number of trees planted and, as mentioned earlier, with the La Nina weather pattern, the growth of our previous plantings has been phenomenal over these last two years.
The boss is a little concerned at the ‘business continuity risk’ of two of us riding together should we both get swept away in one of our river crossings or succumb to frost bite during one of our elevated rides. We make up 50% of the predator trapping team and injuries, age and migration have taken a toll on the overall Monday team numbers in recent times. Risk management is all part of our leisure and work activities these days. I am more concerned about injuring myself at a working bee and being forced to endure La Nina for a few more weeks of this year.