Cycling NZs South Island #2 

This isn’t about me. This is about the world. I am just out and about to catch a raindrop of understanding on my tongue. 

Gliding through pockets of swirling fog out of Berlins, I smiled with the silence of the morning. The cold banged on my nostrils and no place ever smelt so fresh. I rode alongside Bullers River as it laced it’s way through the valleys towards Westport. The morning sun dried the air and only cheeky swaths of fog lay dormant between valleys. I whipped in and out of creaking one-way bridges and tight chested around sharp bends. The wind hit me as I hit the west coast and began the slog South, listening to Wild Chicory, a touching story about an Irish family who emigrated to Australia.

A fellow German cyclist in a onesie met me at a cafe under grey clouds and an even drearier outlook came from his mouth. As I left him, the sun came out and I hit the most insane roads so far. How perceptions differ ! Do not miss the stretch from Charlestown to Greymouth. At parts it’s inland, and I’m pretty convinced they filmed the scenes from Lost here. Rocky cliffs interspersed with rugged greenery, a cardboard cutout of extra large mountains occasionally peeping from the inland horizon. Exposed sections, jungle sections, and then the coastline. It is not inviting, but raw and stunning. For me, it appears hazy and untouchable like a dream. Rock formations jut out of the shallows, and at pancake rocks there are some that look eerily like faces. I went for my coastal joyride while the sun threw balls of light over the ocean, creating a patchwork of electric blue. There is no mercy in the way the road has been built, but while puffing up peaks I try to remember to say Thankyou that we can come to these places at all. There are hardly any towns along the way; these roads have been built for our entertainment. I stopped at Punakaiki beach camp after hearing good things about it, even though I didn’t want to get off the bike at all. I scrubbed up and watched a spectacular sunset from pancake rocks. I tried to make friends with a group of Swedish kids but they kept reverting to their mother tongue, and then I tried this fidgety guy BBQing, but I could feel tension like I was getting him in trouble when his wife came over. 
Today’s stretch involved a supermarket run at Greymouth, and a toothless man bought a six pack at the counter before me. Through the window, I saw that same toothless man kneeling before my bike and I almost dropped my belongings, apart from my newly purchased kitchen knife, and attacked. But it was all good, he was kneeling beside my bike, and told me to have a good day and he was going home for a joint and a drink. Later on in Hokitika I was sitting by the beach on the phone to Dad and G and spotted a little bag of buds. I think I can guess the currency around here!

I followed the West Coast Wilderness Trail for some of today, lay on the grass in the sunshine, batted off sand flies that don’t hurt initially but itch like fire in the night and rode through a blanket of fog so thick I thought it was smoke.

The coastal insanity continued, and although the wind is invariably against me, my legs are getting stronger. Over time, I am developing this wild love affair with my legs. They may not be the longest, nor the leanest, but all those tendons and ligaments meet in all the right places to let them bend and work. And work they do; day in and day out, pumping, pumping, dealing with whatever I dish out for them in order to let us see the world in this magical form. I stood beside Mahinapua Lake this evening thanking and deeply stretching those muscles. I don’t want to preach – I am laying in my woman cave tent right now eating Easter eggs- but it really is satisfying to give the body an appreciative pat on the back. It is, indeed, miraculous.


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