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.