Tom and Ben woke to a lovely day. They stretched and applied a variety of creams. The weather forecast announced sun and southerly breezes. Tom and Ben ate some muesli and smiled at one another. Tom said Ben was his friend: “My frieeeend Bennnny.” Tim looked on, bemused.
It was 170km to the Picton, and Tom and Ben were feeling confident. They popped on to the road and cheered and whooped to the passerbys. They were celebrating, but nobody could tell what for. That didn’t matter, the sun was out! The wind at their personal butts!
Tim took photos of Tom and Ben as the road narrowed and the wind flipped. Things were taking a turn! Brimstone stung the nostrils, excreted from sunbaked seals. If the heat and sulphur indicated Hades it was surprisingly pleasant. Tom and Ben mulled over coffee and icecream in Kekerengu and decided that perhaps the sins were worth it.
Soon the road took our boys inland towards the vineyards of Blenheim. Heat and wind and grit swirled about unlegislated and sweat and sunscreen began to flow in greasy, fat drips. The sun was inescapable and water scarce, but Tom and Ben thrived on adversity. They pulled into Blenheim ahead of time, feeling robust and desiccated.
As two self-aware sponges our boys soaked up liquids in the cool of McDonald’s family restaurant. They looked handsome in their tight lycra, crash helmets and dirt coating, but no kisses were forthcoming. They decided that it was possible for a fellow to be too handsome, before moving on to more pressing business.
Blenheim was the hometown of Tom’s dear grandmother, prior to her passing only a few months earlier. Tom was overseas at the time and saw fit for Ben and himself to detour to her old home and surrounding hills as a touchstone to her legacy. Tom fed Ben snippets of his memories of his granny as the westerly winds baked the moisture from the earth. They pushed into the hills for an honorary loop of her suburb and put aside their perpetual silliness for a sombre moment.
They waved her goodbye and set off for the final push northwards.
And our boys pushed! Within the hour they arrived at the seaside and cooled off in the water of the sounds. The hot winds and blazing afternoon sun dried them as they waited for Tim and the ferry across the Strait, kindly provided to them by the Interislander, free of charge, as a contribution towards their charitable intentions.
The South Island had been licked. Five and a half days of riding, nearly a thousand kilometres, two sore botties, eight kilos of carbohydrates and more cream than you’d like to know about.
Two good boys.
From the desk of Ben Kidney.