As any Australians we have ridden with will agree, there is always a point on a ride around here when we stop to compare the risks involved in our two countries of say, wandering into the scrub for a pee. It goes along the lines of, “Ha, we wouldn’t do that in Australia! There could be a (insert an almost endless list of things that you don’t want to step on or walk into for fear of a fatal outcome)”.
There are at least four such risky critters available in any Australian habitat.
We pee, we laugh, we ride on.
Same goes for South Africans. We did a big loop with a guy from Capetown. He has to consider African versions of the things that can deal to you in Australia, as well as other things.
Lions, for example.
We warned him about magpies.
Which, come to think of it, are Australian imports.
After a coffee at the trailhead we sent him off down Hemo Gorge, a pleasant little creekside trail that has become the nesting area for a posse of New Zealand falcons. The feisty male bird attacked the startled African, and tore his helmet off.
Not a Lion, but still.
As further proof that New Zealand is not the safe haven we have been promoting it to be, I had my own brush with dangerous wildlife last Friday.
Something got stuck in my shorts, and stung my leg. Probably a wasp. Another unwanted import. There must be a place on the planet where wasps perform a useful function in an ecosystem, but it isn’t up my Sifters.
By the time I worked out that the irritation wasn’t a niggly bit of foliage or maybe an errant pin (I often wear samples), and had stopped and turned my shorts inside out to make sure whatever had stung me was not still stinging me, I was kind of committed to the ride. So I kept going.
I don’t know if a couple of decent hours in the woods is what turned a wasp sting into what Dr Internet called a Large Local Reaction, but I definitely ended up with a Large Leg.
My actual Dr reckoned not to worry. Go for a ride. Which I would have if my leg would bend. Even three days later one of my feet looks like it has just come off a 24 hour flight in economy.
It’s a jungle out there. Beware.