Long Cloud Ride: A Cycling Adventure Across New Zealand
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“travellers”,’ said Lyall. ‘I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by this because I felt travellers were people like me, and if I turned up in a pub I’d feel pretty hard done by if the barman refused to serve me. So I served them. I remember the landlord coming up and saying to me, “I told you, mate. Don’t serve travellers. They’re gippos.”’ We kept driving up the wide and empty expanse of spray-lashed sand, me itching to be out there riding along it, but doing an admirable job at keeping my mouth
country. Any mention of armies, wars or weapons and Gary is in his element, but, much to my surprise, I too found the Army Museum to be an engrossing place, albeit in parts very sad. Although New Zealand has never had a foreign war of its own, it has sent thousands of its young men to die in other people’s. In the Gallipoli campaign alone, 7,473 out of the 8,450 New Zealand soldiers who disembarked were either killed or wounded. Museum visits over, it was on down the same way I had come up, past
complaints about jelly-wrestling. It seems a group of patrons walked out ‘horrified’ after a member of the audience was offered a $130 pair of sunglasses to strip off and join two women dressed only in bras and G-strings wrestling in a pool of jelly. The other day a Belgian man on a Canondale bike and carrying only fourteen kilos of kit turned up at the campground. He was cycling around parts of New Zealand for three months but was very disappointed with the country. He thought the drivers were
turned from watery to milky to skin-witheringly hot. The escape from Tokomaru Bay involved a steep 3 km climb over Purau Saddle followed by a steep descent. It was on the steepest part of this descent that I came across a woman with a STOP/GO sign standing ahead of some roadworks that had closed the road down to a single lane. As I was plummeting at high speed towards the woman she stood with the GO towards me. Then, when I was only about fifty feet away, she flipped the sign around to STOP.
road. All day there had been no towns, not even solitary stores. Apart from logging trucks, and motorhomes nicknamed things like ‘J & RUBY’, ‘STRESSLESS’ and ‘FOOTLOOSE’, the only sign of modest modernity was a railway that followed me all the way, occasionally ducking and diving out of sight through a number of hefty hills. Yet I didn’t once see a train on this track. This seemed a terrible waste as it would have been a fantastically dramatic train ride, especially when the track crossed the