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