Now that I have a full keyboard, this could be a 10,000 word diatribe on why we need to do more for the situation in Syria…..but I rest my case.
I am, however, in the mood for a fulsome rant! After yesterday’s debacle of a mere 90km route (just a normal day at the office) in excessive heat and a crossing of Burke’s Pass 709 metres (2200 ft), I fully anticipated that Mother Nature would reward me with a cool breeze at my back for my climb to Mt Cook Village. Well I’m afraid Mother Nature has a thoroughly evil side to her personality.
The first 50km were a ‘breeze’. Fast pace, little effort and a quick time to get to a junction
for the turn-off to Mt Cook. I discovered at the Visitor Centre at the junction that there was no drinking water, and there wouldn’t be for another 35km. That is 85km (53 miles) across mid-alpine wilderness without being able to replenish the water bottles…..mmnnn
The moment I turned NW to follow the great valley up to Mt Cook, I immediately felt the impact of something in my face…….a 30-40kph
(20-30mph) wind that was going to stay with me for the duration. The climb to Mt Cook could be a very gentle (but long) rise to 700 metres. For 55km (35 miles) I was completely at the mercy of this head wind that was so strong that it brought me to a halt several times. When you even have to pedal hard to go downhill just to achieve 15kph, you know you are in trouble. And I knew I was in trouble. 55km would normally take me no more than 2 hours…….today it was over 4 hours. I screamed to the elements, but Mother Nature was not listening………I have decided from now on to be her stroppiest teenager, and throw tantrums at the mere suggestion of not getting my own way in the future.
So, rant out of the way, having reached Mt Cook Village, and having been enchanted by the vast open scenery on the way up the valley, I am now slowly falling back in love with New Zealand. I decided not to camp out tonight (because of extreme weather patterns) but everywhere seemed to be fully booked……all except an Alpine Club Hostel, a beautiful wooden-framed building with stunning views of the mighty Mt Cook. Instead of happy campers and motor-homers, tonight I will be surrounded by crampon shod,
ice axe-wielding rock climbers and mountaineers who do serious things up and down glaciers. I should fit in well.
While I have your attention, a little anecdotal story: in Wellington I decided to replace my seat-post bolt (after 20 years service it was showing worrying signs of wear) so I went into a Giant cycle shop, only to be greeted by a broad Staffordshire accent saying:”Wow, a genuine Raleigh Apex in NZ. You probably bought it about 20 years ago, made of steel and sporting the (then) revolutionary Girvin Flexstem……..”. I realised immediately I had someone on my side, someone who liked his bikes and had fond memories of well-built bikes of yesteryear. He simply stood there admiring it until…….I told him why I’d come into his shop.
Nice encounter though.
And still while I have your attention: I never realised so many Kiwis were so UK oriented. They know far more about the royal family than I do (which doesn’t say much) and they can quote names, places and events with an uncanny ease. When someone asked me if I followed “Corry”, my silence gave me away completely. What on earth is “Corry” I asked. “Coronation St, of course!”. I quickly realised that some Kiwis follow these soaps thinking they are a genuine reflection of the British way of life. I wonder what Mancunians think of that?
All going well (with Mother Nature’s consent, of course) the NW wind will continue blowing, and will blow me all the way back down the valley. I await with bated breath!
Please support the Children in Syria in their desperate plight: www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1