As expected, preparation for my overnighter went well right up until I had to get out of bed in the morning. The minimal gear was loaded into my rear saddle bag the night before and I dispensed with the front rack and merely strapped the tent on top of the saddle bag. I was a little concerned as to whether the stainless steel bag support could handle all this but put it out of my mind being more worried in the end as to where I would fit my eight fried sausages.
|First Step. Clean the Mercian.|
There is no way I would start on this proposed route without my fried sausages because there are no services until the 130km mark and this combined with the fact that the first 70kms are all uphill could lead to a hungry and grumpy ‘Niel the Wheel’ should he not have bangers and coke on-board. One drink bottle of Coca Cola and one drink bottle of water. Ample to get me up to 200kms in the hottest of conditions. And I threw in some Whitakers chocolate for good measure. A bit like Cadbury’s chocolate but with actual chocolate under the wrapper.
|The Easy Part. Getting Ready the Night Before.|
So a seven am start was decided by myself and the alarm set. I managed to have a troubled sleep not wanting to go cycling after all and managed to drag myself out of bed by seven .I was leaning on the toilet gazing absent mindedly into space by 7,05am, porridge in my tummy by 7.20am and then out the door bang on 8am.
Perfect. I know myself so well that the ruse of a seven start had fooled myself into starting at 8am which should give me the correct amount of time to get all the hills out of the way by lunch time.
Three sausages for lunch and 400mls of Coke. Seventy kilometres down and it looked like only 100kms to my destination for the day. I had five fried sausages, 200mls of Coke and a full drink bottle of water left. Plenty and that didn’t include the chocolate. I’d have to be desperate to eat that chocolate during the ride as I had told myself that it would be far nicer to saviour it in the tent at night.
|Get Ya Sausages Down Niel.|
I started this last 100kms with a light headwind but as time went on the wind got stronger. Two hours down the road and I was fighting a wicked headwind. Sick of the monotony of it I took shelter in an old shed and ate two more sausages and drank the last of the coke all washed down with a bit of water. Feeling a might sick of sausages by this stage I got back on the bike to polish off the last thirty kms into the dry wind. A further hour down the road I was overtaken by an orchard worker riding a bike, so felt I needed to force down sausage number six and a bit of water.
|A Man and His Bike. What More Could You Want? Well, Maybe a Tail Wind.|
|A Kids bus Shelter. I Should Note all these Down for Future Audax Events.|
After seventy kilometres of uphill and then another one hundred kilometres of, in my face wind pounding, I was happy to pull into Spring creek camping ground, throw up my tent and head over to the fish & chip shop.
“Two fish, two hot dogs and a scoop of chips thanks”.
Two hot dogs? What was I thinking? I managed to eat the fish and chips but couldn’t get through another two sausages even though they were battered and delectably salty.
In the tent that night I realised that I still had 2 tin foil wrapped sausages left. Adi had gone to a lot of trouble to boil, fry and wrap those little buggers but my dilemma was whether they would be safe to eat the next day. I had carried them all day in my jersey pocket. They would have been incubating at body temperature for over 12 hours. I should eat them in the tent that night, but I really needed them for breakfast. These challenges are sent to test the long distance cyclist. Reasoned decisions need to be made.
I couldn’t actually face another sausage so I ate chocolate that night in the tent and had the bangers for breakfast. Let the bacteria do their worst. It couldn’t be any worse than some of the Bolivian chicken I’d consumed on a previous trip.
I actually didn’t sleep well in the tent as it was a cold night and I hadn’t packed a sleeping mat. My pillow was great, no complaints about the sleeping bag or liner, but not only was I frozen from the ground up but I had sore hip bones from the hard ground. The Blenheim area must not have had enough spring rain for the soil to be that hard. That aside I was up bright and early at 10am for the return 170kms through the Marlborough Sounds and back to Nelson.
A meat pie was put away for lunch and an ice-cream for afternoon tea. Things got even better than that as the light tail wind morphed into something pretty decent. I had sufficient energy to shout derogatory comments at the numerous trunk drivers on this section of the road and make up little ditties about lard arse motorists and shuttled school kids.
And to top it all off I was home at 6pm to catch the day’s news on TV.