Yesterday was the easiest day's riding of the trip, certainly not very demanding on the body and I went to bed feeling ready to face New Zealand's highest road. So when I got up in the night for a pee and my left knee refused to co-operate I was more than a little surprised. Sure enough, this morning the left knee was in serious trouble, leaving me with a real dilemma – do the short hilly route or the much longer slightlylesshilly route?
I decided that the Crown Range would have to wait and set off on the longer route which turned out to be a mistake. Instead of doing one big 3000 foot climb I probably did 60 little 100 foot climbs. It hurt. A lot. I made miserably slow progress and the 70 miles took almost 10 hours.
I am taking as many ibruprofen as medical science permits and have bought a big sack of ice and all I can do now is hope for a miracle. The alternative is a bus to Invercargill, not quite the way I hoped to finish but this trip is already a bust as an end-to-end attempt so I'll just see what the morning brings.
Last night's stop (Wanaka) was a nice little town. Very touristy but quite up-market with lots of nice bars, cafes and restaurants. Queenstown, in contrast, is tacky and horrid. It is THE centre in Southland for backpackers, hippies, gap year wastrels and other types that really need to get a job. I have personally lowered the average age in town by 10 years. Having arrived at 6pm I grabbed my ice and some food and retreated to my hostel where I splashed out on a single room so as not to inflict my pathetic whimpering on others.
So, a few things about NZ that I have been meaning to tell you:
Bacon – it is rubbish…even worse than Merican bacon. I don't think I have seen a single pig since I arrived so they probably don't get much practice. Much as a like the Kiwis you really can't trust a people that can't do bacon.
Lawn Bowls – based on my observation the national sport of the Kiwi is not rugby but Lawn Bowls. When building a town here the priority seems to be: 1/ pie shop (or just 'shop' as it is known here). 2/ magnificent public loos. 3/ bowling green. 4/ maybe a house or two.
i Sites – these are tourist info offices and can be found in most towns. They are a marvel. Not only are the staff cheerful, polite and often pretty (even the girls) but they really know their stuff. But the best bit is that you can book everything right there. Need a room? a seat on bus? a helicopter flight up the glacier? rental car? ticket to Mars? They do not take commission so give good impartial advice and you can walk out with all your travel needs sorted. I called in upon arrival to check about a bus to Invercargill and was told that they won't carry my bike. I cried so they called a local transport firm and tentatively negotiated for them to ship my bike for me.
Tomorrow I must be up and ready at 6 so I can check if the knee will play ball. If yes then I can get the miles done; if no then I can drop my bike at the transport depot and catch the bus.
The picture was taken on the approach to Queenstown, when I finally knew I would make it!