My handlebars are wrapped in a foam tape for grip and for comfort.
Where the wrapping finishes it is secured in place by some plain black insulation tape.
Recently I noticed that a small corner of the insulation tape has come away slightly. It is wrapped in a clockwise direction, finishing at the bottom of the handlebar right where I place my hands when my back is getting sore and I need to sit a little more upright. My thumb naturally rests on the corner that is coming away. I flick it gently every now and again to check if it’s still unstuck.
I suspect that some dust has gotten onto the corner, because when I push it down it only stays stuck for a little while. Eventually it comes back off again.
When we reached Hanmer today we found that the Rainbow Road was closed. Apparently there were slips all along and the Manager of the Rainbow Station said “NO MORE!”
This was inconvenient for us as we had turned inland some time ago and spent many good hours labouring away in the heat, sweating buckets to get there.
We didn’t have many other options but to turn back for the East Coast, to Kaikoura.
I tried peeling the insulation tape back a half turn to get some fresh purchase and stick that sucker down once and for all.
I got a good grip between my thumb and forefinger on the sharp edge where the tape had been cut by the scissors and it came away nicely. I felt the good strain as I pulled it up and off the bars, ready to bring it down tight and sticky. Things were looking up!
But when I pulled it back over its new spot and smoothed it down it twitched and started to come away again. I banged the heel of my palm on the handlebars in anger but this threw me off course and I almost crashed in the loose gravel on the verge of the road.
We decided to duck out of the sun in Hanmer and have some lunch to steady ourselves for our coastal rampage. We had done two and a half good hours riding that morning and we had more than four to come. We enjoyed a big ol’ feed of fish ‘n chips; a heavy dose of canola oil to lube the pistons. While we waited we browsed the local produce - to keep the blood up.
Before too long we were back at it again.
When I was trying to get the insulation tape to seat I noticed that it had grubbied up my thumb. It looked like an ink stain, spread across the edge where my thumb emerged from the glove, but it was more powdery. I wondered if I had got any of the powdery ink smudge on my face, and then I realised there was probably nobody around who cared. I rubbed the powdery ink smudge from my thumb onto my white handlebars and it turned into a streak. This seemed even worse to me so I rubbed it away with my index finger, and before you knew it I had two grubby fingers.
The second leg of our ride, back out to the coast, was a roaring affair. We had the wind again, and not even the 1200m of climbing that stood between us and Kaikoura’s lovely German bartenders could dampen our spirits. On the way we passed by Mt Lyford, a gigantic bald peak sitting boldly against a blue sky. Apparently there was a ski field on its flanks. If there was, I couldn’t see it. And if I could, it looked crap.
We also passed some poor soul with a heavily laden touring bike who had dismounted and begun to trudge his steed up a long steep climb into the wind. We offered consolatory smiles as we tore past him, lightly stocked and enjoying the fruits of a reasoned route choice. They probably didn’t help.
Tomorrow I will try peel back the tape and clean away the dust that I suspect has snuck in there. Even now I know that I will end up with glue on my finger, and I know that this will cause new problems, but it is something that I must do.
Tom Tom Tom Tom Tom