Nigel, this blog is for you.
The alarms went off early and we demolished some porridge. It was noticeably darker outside, the mornings were drawing in – things were only going to get worse the further south we ventured.
We knew what was coming after we got to Pelorus bridge. We had biked it before at New Year when we came for a ‘test run’ and it wasn’t pretty. A 700m climb over about 5km. Steep. And it wasn’t rideable either, mostly hikeabike come carryabike up scree.
I had decided that I would ride around on the road which was an extra 20k on a road with no hard shoulder – but at this point, chopping my leg off would be more fun than climbing over the Maungatapu Saddle.
We packed up and left Havelock, the first part of the ride was slightly downhill, then it flattened out. The problem with having ridden the route before was that you forget bits and I kept on thinking we were nearly there, butttttttt no, we weren’t.
My sores hadn’t improved from a day off at home, and I was in agony. So much so, I was putting so much body weight through my hands my little and ring finger on both hands and my palms had gone numb. Nerve damage once again had reared it’s ugly head.
Eventually we got to Pelorus bridge and called in for a pie and to change the batteries in the GPS unit – we weren’t going to miss that trick a second time!!
I was in so much pain, I just couldn’t continue. I wanted to so much, but just couldn’t. We were only at 1600 and something km, so still had 1400 to go and only 10 days to do it as James had to be back at work on 2nd April.
Still in the back of our minds was the dreaded COVID, and the talk of non-essential travel being banned. The last thing we wanted was to get stuck down in the wop wops if the country was to go into lockdown. We thought about James continuing and I would go home, but with his concussion brain, it just didn’t feel safe.
We painfully decided to turn around and head back to Havelock for the evening. Defeat hurt, I felt like such a failure and I had ruined James’ dream too. He’d been working towards this ride for 2 years and we were just turning around and it was all over.
Back at the campsite with COVID lockdown looming, the boats back to the North Island were full. The only option we had was for 7am, so we would have to be at Picton at 6, so a nice 3.30am wake up call was in order.
On the cycle back to the boat, we saw a possum, an alive possum. The first one I had seen in 3 years of living in New Zealand.
James didn’t speak for most of the ride. He was hurting, as was I, and I felt huge guilt.
The boat back didn’t get much better either. I went to get a cup of tea to try and soften the blow, but as I was walking back to our seats the *stupid* single use plastic lid popped off both cups and the tea inside spilled onto my hand burning my left hand, by the time I got to our seats it was really burning. My version of events, asked James to take them quickly, he didn’t move quick enough and I dropped them. His version of events, I threw two cups of hot tea over the chair next to him.
The adventure of a lifetime was over, actually over.
However, as always, the adventure continues…