Havelock to Blenheim – 97.54km 2205m Ascent. Time 9h26m Moving Time 7h49m
My day started at 6am sharing breakfast with a person residing at the backpackers who lived a rather different life from myself. I was explaining about the Kiwi Brevet and then mentioned it reaches a stage where there is not thought, like a meditation. She commented, “Life is a meditation.”
“How profound,” I thought as I left the dreary darkness of the backpackers into the brilliance of the morning. My mood immediately lifted and the words of a Psalm came to me “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” I happily set off towards Picton humming these words.
I burst out in laughter when I saw this sign after the first climb (and pee stop). For Silas’ sake I had to stop and take a photo.
Not long afterwards I started to feel very flat and fatigued every pedal stroke became an effort. In the last climb to Picton I decided to pull over and use up my “call a friend (or in this case coach) card”. I figured that it was not quite bedtime in France so Silas should still be up. I got his voice mail, so left a message “You’d probably tell me to get back on my bike and pedal, so I will.”
With that I lay down on the side of the road and enjoyed the sunshine. Unfortunately concerned passerbys kept disturbing my slumbers checking that I was OK. Foiled in my attempt to rest, I got on my bike and continued up the hill.
I limped into Picton and went straight to the 4Square, where I purchased 1 litre of coke, a bottle of water and some M&Ms. I mixed up my rocket fuel (coke/water and Nuun tablet), had a good guzzle and headed off towards Port Underwood road.
As soon as I left Picton my energy levels picked up. Around the coast I went revelling in the sunshine. Then the first of the long hills arrived. I rode for quite sometime and then felt that I needed a rest. I looked at the speed I was going and figured walking would be just as fast and a rest from riding, so that is what I did. On reaching the top I was completely blown away with the vista revealed.
A compulsory photograph stop. I decided it was time to slow down (OK I was going super slow already) and really enjoy the last day.
I carried on knowing there were only three big arsed hills left. Unbeknownst to me Silas had left me a message “You can do it! One pedal stroke at a time. Just break the ride up into small chunks and focus on that.” This is advice I had previously received and was already applying.
Down the descent, some smaller ups and downs through incredibly beautiful bays I went, my mind reflecting on the past five days. It is quite amazing what five days by oneself can take one.
The next climb was gravel and the walking started early, plenty of time for me to reflect more and enjoy the wonderful day. The third climb came and went. The road turned to seal for the final climb, which I rode all but the last few metres. Then down to the flatlands, only 25km to go.
The wind threw me one last challenge and attempted to blow me backwards and off my bike. It did not thwart me. I continued on laughing in it’s face. I navigated my way through the outskirts of Blenheim, over the bridge and into Henry Street and then I saw her, Seymour Square.
I never know what emotion I will feel after a multiday tour. After the Odyssey I felt “emotionally drained bereft”; going over the line for the final stage in Wellington to Auckland I felt powerful. During my two laps around Seymour Square’s fountain I felt pure content.
I can think of no better emotion: pure content.
As Bruce Springsteen puts it
This life, this life and then the next
With you I have been blessed
What more can you expect
Yes indeed , with my life I have been blessed, there is no more to expect. The meditation of life.
The next post contains the aftermath