Hiding in the Library

Current Location: Stratford, Aotearoa

I’ve been holed up for a few days here in Stratford due to several reasons.  One is that the ride from Hawera to here, merely a 30km ride, my right knee went through what I can only describe as excruciating pain every churn of the crank.  I ended up stopping every 5 to 10k in hopes that time would take the edge off the pain which didn’t help at all but instead only made the pain more sharp each time I started again.  I’m not sure what to chalk up this pain to yet, but several theory include; I’ve jumped into cycling far too vigorously after basically taking 3 months off, I injured my knee somewhere on the farm in Pongaroa, or lastly the clips on my shoe need to be adjusted.  I’m honestly not sure which one has done me in.  The other reason for the stop here is that it’s the jumping off point for the Forgotten World Highway and there is some nasty weather coming through and I was hoping to do the highway in at least halfway decent weather. I’ve decided even if I have to do the remainder of the ride in 30km increments then so be it, I just hope the weather clears up a little bit to help me.

Not much goes on in Stratford, it’s more of a passing point between New Plymouth and Wanganui or Mt. Tarakani.  Though it does have the one and only Glockenspiel in New Zealand.  Side note, I thought a Glockenspiel was a musical instrument but it turns out it means musical clock (at least that’s what the sign of the base of the tower says.)

Cycling next to Mt. Taranaki, aka. Mt. Edgemont, aka. Mt. Fuji of the South was nice.  Snow capped it really could have been Mt. Fuji erupting out of nowhere and gently sloping down towards the center of the island.

Gotta Ride

Current Location: Palmerston North, Aotearoa

It’s time to put this ride to rest I think.  I had Max drop me off in Palmerston this morning due to some broken spokes on the rear wheel.  I’ve had a rash of them ever since getting into Wellington.  I think I’ve replaced 6 spokes since then, fortunately for me I’ve found a decent bike shop that is willing to re-spoke the wheel.  That in itself is strange because every other bike shop I’ve run into immediately wants me to put on a new wheel (takes more time to re-spoke) so it’s nice to have them want to fix it properly.  I’m going to start donating some of the things I’ve been carrying around to lessen the weight (I think I’m up to about 7 books.)

My rationalization of getting Max to drop me off is that I cycled by Palmerston on the way to Pongaroa so this is sorta a warp back to a previous save spot.  I think the cycling will be interesting the first 3 or 4 days as I really haven’t cycled continuously since riding into Mapua a little over 3 months ago.  I’ve done fairly well hiding out the winter indoors wwoofing.  Last week working on the fencing there were a few days that felt like summer, it was great. But the farmers around town were saying when I got there the last two weeks of August everything turns to custard. What do you know when the 16th of August rolls around and it pours cats and dogs for days.  It was nice while it lasted.

We finished up the fencing project we were working on and had some deer steaks ‘hacked off the carcass’ as Max put it.  Quite good eats paired with my favorite purple potatoes and cheap (good) Aussie wine.  As usual the conversations with Max & Jane are excellent and many movies were watched as there is little else to do around Pongaroa.

Motto for the next few weeks, ‘Cape Reinga or bust’.

Couple pictures added, just the hunting ones.

steak, it's whats for dinner

No. 8 Wire

I’m still in Pongaroa at the moment, probably the last week I’ll be here as I’ve started to get a little restless here.  Fortunately for me I’ve moved on from digging holes to fixing fences which I think I enjoy a little bit more.  One of the things I had heard about New Zealand before coming here was the idea of #8 wire.  As far as I can tell it goes a little something like

“You can fix anything with a little bit of #8 wire and some ingenuity”

The philosophy stems from the farms in New Zealand but extends from there to just about every facet of New Zealand culture.  I’d be surprised to meet a kiwi who didn’t know the #8 philosophy.  I’ve seen it used most when it comes to fixing fences around the farm from fixing broken fence posts to attaching battens to the posts.  The fences do look a lot better, from afar, than they did when we got there. Up close I like to say the wire work looks like a work of art. Because farms tend to be far apart in New Zealand farmers couldn’t rely on anyone or anything they didn’t have at their disposal to get the job done which would be the birth of the philosophy.  A good example of this is “The Worlds Fastest Indian” Burt Munroewho put together quite a fast machine in his garage, by himself.  Another one that I’ve seen is a homemade bike trailer made out of an old shopping cart, lawnmower handle, and an old bike wheel.  A little welding later and ta-da new bike trailer.  I really like this idea of relying on oneself and what is on hand, now if I could just figure out how to use #8 to fix broken spokes I’ll be good as gold.

A couple of hunters came today to refill the freezer with some fallow deer meat, I’ve got a few pictures but they aren’t for the faint of heart, I’ll post them next time I’ve got some pictures to go up.

The days have started getting noticeably longer again, thankfully.  I think it’s about as much daylight as I had the last time I was here in Pongaroa.  I think I’ve changed the route up north just a bit and instead of hugging the coast road around Mt. Taranaki I’ll cut up the east side of it and take the Lost Highway up to the center of the island after a suggestion made to me by another cyclist met in Otaki.  I’m certainly not looking forward to going through Auckland again, having not seen a city with 1 million people in it for close to a year it’s going to be a little overwhelming I’m sure.