The Final Day – “We’ll see how we go” – Kawakawa to Cape Reinga

On the fourteenth day, marking thirteen and one half days of elapsed time, we finished this ride on or around 7 pm. Below are the parting sentiments of our traveling crew of three.

Benjamin Kidney (nee Riley):

We stood on the Cape and thought about what it meant to be there.

We’d ridden the tarmac snake as far as it would go; until it pointed straight out into the mixing oceans and the dusky sun settling to the horizon; the impossible theatrics of the world that have played out for eons, indifferent its audience.

We were two boys of privilege, wrapped in a warm blanket of support since conception, insulated from cold reality. The rain had fallen on us, and the wind had placed hands on our foreheads, the sun had baked sweat from our skin, and we had professed nobility by associating with charity.

But we weren’t noble, we just rode bikes. It’s a pastime; we do it for fun.

You see, it isn’t particularly hard. The difficulties are discrete and isolated, the goals are tangible and empirical, and it’s supported from all sides. You’ll receive affection and individuality and good physical health. You’ll be lauded and people will pay attention to you.

I would like to tell you something, I don’t know if you know this, but four months ago I attempted suicide. Because of the serious nature of the attempt I was locked up for two weeks in a secure psychiatric facility.

I had once trained to be a professional triathlete and a special forces soldier, and as a result I thought that I had come to terms with the nature of endurance. It seems I hadn’t, the complex and pervasive difficulty of that time and times subsequent will never leave me.

You see, as you read this, you will not congratulate me for staying alive, or feel as though I have done an inspirational thing.

You will be wary of me.

You will want to know that what I did was paroxysmal, able to be euphemised and forgotten, but I can assure you that it is a real, vicious and ugly thing.

It is those feelings that present a large barrier to those needing help.

My support for Youthline is very personal, to me it represents assistance for those who really are in need, it acknowledges their existence, and it gives credibility to their struggles. And while both Tom and I certainly appreciate all the support that you have given us throughout this ride, we aren’t the ones who really need it.

Please do donate if you haven’t already.

I would like to thank Tom for coming up with the idea for the ride, planning it, organising the sponsorship, and being a good pal.

I would like to thank Tim/Graham for his tireless support of us throughout the entire ride, cooking our meals, booking us motel rooms and performing innumerable favours for us. We wouldn’t have got it done nearly so quickly without you.

Thanks to all the sponsors of the ride: Intercity, Interislander, Freeload, Salcom, Trackleaders.com, Ultimo, and Mike at Bike Hutt for his great mechanical work.

Thanks to all of you that have donated to Youthline and continue to do so, and thanks for reading our blogs and following us on the ride.

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Young Tom Plum (nee Lynskey):

Our good Benjamin is quite right when he says that we are not the ones who need support here.

Riding the length of the country is an undertaking, to be sure, but I wish to distinguish it from other challenges. Yes, we had hard days. Yes, the headwinds annoyed us and the rain made our socks soggy and we would rather have been elsewhere. Yes, we chafed the good name out of our undercarriages, and yes we got tired legs.

But there was always an end point.

Painkillers numbed our afflictions; distance signs marked our progress; Graham’s warm affection and cooked meals restocked our mental and physical larders. But in reality the only significant barrier to us completing this ride was making the decision to do it in the first place.

It’s not a marginal feat. People can relate to it. You’ve ridden a bike, and you know what it is like. You can at least imagine riding for around 8 hours per day.

But the truth about me is that when I’m done with my day job I go home and relax. I read books, I play my guitar, I listen to music, I write letters. I don’t toil with mental gremlins, and I don’t do a lot to help those who do. This doesn’t make me a bad person, it just makes me another guy living his life.

So when I say that we rode the length of New Zealand, please understand that to me this pales in comparison to each and every Youthline volunteer who dedicates their spare time to helping those who truly need it. They are the heroes.

But the ride served a purpose. We tried to keep it entertaining, and we tried to make it engaging, in the hope that you’d ask the question “Who is Youthline, anyway?”

A very special person in my life once explained to me the meaning of responsibility. If you really strip it down, it is your ability to respond to a situation. It isn’t an obligation, it is simply a description. As our private worlds become more insular, we lose sight of our ability to respond to others’ situations. But here is a large group of volunteers who are trying to do something to help others. And they work bloody hard at it.

In my capacity as a recreational cyclist, it is within my ability to ride the length of the country to try and get your attention. In your capacity as a person, it is within your ability to give a donation. I implore you to do so.

I would like also to thank our sponsors (they appear on the right hand side of your page), and to thank Graham. Each little bit of support we received made it easier for us to focus on what was important, rather than managing logistics. I would like also to thank all the peeps for their sentiments – it was nice to know that people found it a positive endeavour and wished us well.

It was a great adventure, and I can only hope that it brought a wonderful organisation to your attention. If just one person who is in need learns about Youthline and finds their services to provide some small reprieve, then I would consider it all to be worth it.

This is Youthline: http://www.youthline.co.nz/

And this is where you can contribute: http://www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/youthride

Thank you to all who have donated already.

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Graham (nee Tim) Lynskey

They rode a good ride to highlight the plight
of their peers who oft could not see the light

From the point to the cape if you dare
to help all those that care

Through Bush Cone and onto Maungaharuru Range
And at times it made them quite strange

Our good boys rode long and straight
so those in need should not have to wait.

/—

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That’s all from us.

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Day 13 – The Northward Voyage to Native Kawakawa

My worst fears have begun to realize.

In the beginning the spot tracker was a source of strength; something to pull us from within the depths of our solitude and turmoil. We were so very thankful for the day that we learned to harness its power and use it to spur us on, to drive harder into the rain, the wind, the hills. It could turn us from a groveling state of despair into a driving force of nature. We were nigh on unstoppable.

But I was always wary. Such power of course cannot come without its caveats.

Yesterday we covered 200 good kilometres. The goings were tough, and I paid penance for my ambition the day prior. Young Benjamin Limpus was carrying the tracker. He had carried it for some days, and I noted through curious observation that he had begun to move it closer to his person. First it lay on his steed. Then, it lay on his back. And finally it lay on his forehead, affixed about the cranium. It was in this position that he held it on this yesterday, and it was on this yesterday that it began to affect him.

In the heat, and in the lonely expanse of the Hauraki, the tracker took hold. He sensed my weakened state, and he knew that this was a chance to forge ahead for his own purpose. He quickened stride and took his gap – a gap of no more than 200m; a gap that he knew would drive a stake right into my very sense of decency.

And there he let me dangle.

The winds were buffeting and certainly of no help to our cause. Young Benjamin was feeling sprightly, and he had a world that was soon to be his filling his mind. All he had to do was leave me there, stranded, to eventually succumb to the madness of it all.

Crossing into Bombay I took stock of my reserves and fought tooth and nail to make my way back within range. I tried to remind young Benjamin of all our warm memories – of how brave a boy he was. I tried to bring back some recollection of him and me before he had undertaken this dogged pursuit; before the power had commanded his vulnerable mind.

But my attempts breezed over him and he fixed me with his dead eyes, face awash with sweated ointments. He mumbled incoherence. I knew then that the tracker was too strong – I had to take it from him.

The day was hard, and it was long. It took all I had to stave off the madness that young Benjamin was inflicting upon me with his slow gaps and his incessant charge. But that night in our lodgings I chose my moment well, and I took the tracker from him.

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We set out this morning from the village of Helen. The road was very steep; it ducked in and out of inlets and it followed severe ridges. The summer hams had been well received by young Benjamin, and for this he is forced to make sacrifice of pace in the steep country.

But I had the tracker, and this left him in a sobered state – subsisting on power of will alone.

I do not know exactly when it began to affect me. I only noticed when I was turning the screws on young Benjamin on a long traverse that we were negotiating together. I caught myself in that moment, and summoned the strength to withdraw. We had survived the Dragon’s rest without incidence, but it was crossing the pass of Brynderwyn that I really felt it.

I felt the gap, like a backdraft of treachery sweeping out behind me. I smelt the putrid stench of my own ambition – my secret desires bubbling forth. I heard the whipping cracks of a land under my rule. It was all within my grasp.

But young Benjamin Limpus was brave. He regathered himself and struggled hard to overcome my hostilities. We toiled the remaining miles, covering 190 more in total. He fought bravely, like the brave young boy that he is. And we reached our destination intact.

Tonight we rest, for in the morning we must make our final charge for the Cape, where we hope to bury the burden of the tracker once and for all. It is yet another 200 kilometres, and good kilometres at that. Since removed from my steed I feel the senses returning – but what will become of me when I remount in the morning air, with fresh opportunities to take mine back?

There is no gallantry in putting your men to the sword – I must try to be strong and to hold to this notion.

But if I do not make it, then remember me as a good man at one point in time.

Yours truly,

The Young Tom Plum

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Day 12 – A fat sun in the sky – Morrinsville to Helensville and many Villes between

Now Tom and Ben ne’er were the first petunias outta the patch in the mornin’. Old man Lynskey would rap on the screen and there they’d be; dead ‘n’ gurgling to all ‘n’ sundry. Now if they were to get to the business of riding they’d better be up and jumpin’, and jump they did do.
Old man Lynskey poured cups o’ tea into tha’ scratchy throats and plumped ‘em up on tater fry and good eggs and them boys did throw the whole lot down in a damn hurry.
They set abou’ greasin’ tha’ undercarriages and various miscellany, cursin’ the tyre that had been deflated by the night. It was drizzlin’ and steamy when those boys finally got on down the road, full on fry’d goods and burpin’.

Well now boys will be the proverbial and many car was treated to the sight of young Tom down to just his drawers, skipping about a field in the artistic way. Young Ben looked on, snapped up a few photos and them boys did fall about, hootin’ and hollerin’.

But those boys could ride I tell ye’, they steamed into the city with the hounds o’ hell on tha’ heels. The ve-hi-cles streamed on by, in their hot and smoky way, them roads blocked up tighter ‘n a buzzards belly, and our boys sweated away like, well, I don’t know wha’.
Ther’ were good folk to meet, Youthline folks, and the boys got fed up on good fruit and grain, and had a snatch o’ company as they ground out them hot miles north.

Soon it was just our boys again, slurpin’ on soda pop and eye’n the locals. Off they went up old north road, watchin’ the old money with respectful eyes (good boys), driving hard up them hills (brave boys), and flitting down thar hills in good time. Helensville with light to spare.

Now I don’t make no great claims to knowledge, I ain’t watch’d call a learned man, but I reckon if those two boys keep riding the way I did see them ride today, they’ll be tasting that sea air in a little o’er two days yonder.

Peace and God Bless to y’all

Papa Benjamin

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Hanging Hanmer Hams – my forbidden fruit

Plump and glazed
Sweet and firm
A delicious meaty treat
Hanging, sweating, in the sun
Begging to be eat

No! Not yet!
The villagers cry
Young boy, you’ll have to wait!
A few more days is all you need
And then you may fill your plate

But the hams still call
They sing to me
Young boy, you are allowed
And if given a private feast
I’d gobble them up right now!

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hanmerhams (740 x 436)

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Day 11 – Taupo to Morrinsville

This morning I woke reluctantly from a good, deep sleep. I rolled over and set about straightening my knees. They’ve stiffened recently, and developed a few interesting squeaking and cracking noises. I traipsed off to the bathroom and noticed that I had a large white mark where I had dribbled down my cheek during that blissful sleep. Ah, good.

We set about loading up on foods for the day. Having Graham around to help us out has been invaluable; there would be no way that we’d be this far up the country by now without him. We shoveled in enough breakfast for 2-3 people. You get a little stick to the stomach doing this, but you cram some more in anyway. More tomatoes, more muesli, more juice, more coffee. Cram it on down. You’ll thank yourself later.

Yesterday had been real crap. And neither of us was particularly enthused about the prospect of hitting the road again today. We had a good stretch of SH1 to negotiate and the promise of an oblique headwind. Nevertheless I’d had many good dreams and breakfast enough to see me through some long miles. I had optimism.

By now you may have noticed that we’ve varied our route. This isn’t laziness, it has been the product of misfortune and prudence. When I formulated this plan some months ago, I anticipated being unemployed. I also didn’t factor in young Ben Kidney hitting the road with me. All three members of our traveling crew have jobs to return to, and we’re operating under time constraints now.

Yesterday I battled. In my darkest moment I had pulled an ass muscle, agitated my opposing ITB from over-compensating, fallen off of Ben’s pace and then found myself struggling to hold 10km/h down a slight incline – all of this with over 60km left to ride. I considered pulling off the road and throwing my bike into the bushes – maybe having a wee sob – but instead I choked down some painkillers and gritted my teeth good and hard. Somehow, eventually, it all came right enough for me to get home.

Today it was Ben’s turn to have a bad time of it. The recent switch from my mountain bike to his carbon road bike had been ill-considered in geometry terms; the new position had done a number on his back. He had also broke his Fizik Arione saddle in half, and his Achilles had flared up. A Para-tendonitis, according to Graham. Combine this with the mental roadblock of yet another day slugging away into the wind, and you end up with a reasonably unhappy Ben.

A re-jig of his front end, some painkillers, a dirty feed of McDonalds in Tokoroa and the small reprieve of being allowed to sit in for a while alleviated the worst of his woes, however, and we were back on track.

It ended up being a good ride. We took the SH1 to Tokoroa, then Tirau, before jumping on the SH27 to Matamata, and then finally through to Morrinsville – our resting place for the night. A kindly servo attendant in Matamata had given us a hint to take a small country road detour which relaxed the flow of traffic and gave us a chance to sit up and enjoy the countryside a little.

It wasn’t the most exciting day yet, but hell it did get us closer to the goal.

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Day 10 – Napier to Taupo – It’s all downhill from here

Today wasn’t much fun.

It was hot when we left Napier, looking at 143km through to Taupo along the relevant state highway. We’d been told it was hilly and that the wind would be in our face, but what can two brave boys do?

I switched bikes from Tom’s singular (now named Guiseppie) to my carbon-fibre race machine, expecting difficulty ahead.

Our legs weren’t firing correctly after a 225km day yesterday and the first of the many climbs had a pretty nasty angle to it. The wind was strong enough to make even descending a chore, the road shoulder was around the width of the painted white line, and we danced the death-dance with logging trucks enough to develop a mild case of truck-shock.

The first of the two principal saddles really reamed us. It was too steep, too long and too busy. Tom developed a strange sort of impingement in his right buttcheek which was bothering him no end, our knees were aching and we were getting mildly agitated.

We had a wee stop on an arched road bridge spanning a deep valley and climbed underneath it. It made a pleasant change to be frightened of the long fall rather than being ground into mince between tyre and gravel.

The second saddle loomed ahead, an equal to the first. We sweated our way to the summit and rode the remaining mileage to a dot-on-a-map town called Tarewera (exclusive to the volcano). We sat, listening to the 100-tracks-for-dickheads collection, while chewing on roadside pies and drinking milk products. Tom shook his iced coffee without applying the lid and coated himself in brown fluids. We stared at it briefly and felt that it summed the day up well.

As we exited the cafe we were advised that it was “downhill all the way to Taupo”. We regarded this information with a shrug. Tom ate a toasted sandwich left uneaten by a previous patron. He soon found out why it had been left behind: it was cheese and pineapple and it was gross. He vomited some of it up later while cursing.

It certainly wasn’t downhill. The wind picked up, and we had 60km to go.

We were tired, and we didn’t want to keep going. I guess this is the cornerstone of endurance: being tired, and not wanting to keep going, but doing it anyway. There’s a variety of ways to do it: focussing on what parts are going well, what parts aren’t hurting, breaking the route into parts, eating regularily and weeping. I suppose our advantage is that we make good travelling partners and have been friends a long time. So in this state we can laugh about it, and push each other through it, and eventually you just get to the end. I think that’s important: eventually you just get to the end. Eventually we will, and I’m sure we’ll be happy about it, but it’s just one moment of many, and it’ll flit by like all the others.

And we made it, by the way…

I had a thought today, and you can call it a parting shot or whatever you like, but it bought me some comfort: The world is always ready to accept you, all that it requires from you is that you accept it.

For your consideration

Benson Kidney

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Care to Contribute?

Now is a great time to remind the viewers that we’re doing all of this to raise support and awareness for Youthline, a tremendous organisation who we consider to be very deserving.

If you’ve enjoyed the blog, please consider sending some koha to Youthline. There’s a link below to a simple process for contributing.

Give as little or as much as you like. Give anonymously or slap your name on there with a message for ‘da boyz’. Either way your money is going to a good place.

And just as a reminder, we don’t take a cut. It all goes to the organisation!

http://www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/youthride

Get into it!

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