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Do as I say, not as I do.


clouds ahead


I pack the Krampus into the back of the van with the resignation that comes from knowing there will be mud, wet gear, maintenance required afterwards.

It is too wet for a road ride, even one with mudguards. It is too wet for the trails, save them for another day. Life is too short for home trainers, so we will ride the forestry roads for a couple of hours.

Just about the time I get to the forest I recall the weather map looking less biblical down south a bit, and to the west. Spur of the moment, I take a right on to Highway 30 instead of a left into the carpark. Maybe when I get to Highway One it will be dry, and I can cut down to Taupo.

It isn’t, and I don’t.

There is a sliver of light under the clouds on the horizon, so I go west until it stops raining. When that happens I am almost at the start of the Timber Trail.

By the time I get there it is actually sunny.

But I had packed for a couple of hours in a bike park. Which in today’s world of ultra reliable bikes and tubeless tyres means I have a water bottle. No food. No tools. No spare tubes. I have a phone. But no reception. I have some money. There is nothing to buy.

I go anyway.

It is beautiful. Completely deserted. There are a few puddles, but the trail is in good shape.


Big tree


All the way I am thinking about what will happen if anything goes wrong. Kind of cursing myself for being stupid. Which is ridiculous because it doesn’t help, and the obvious thing to do if I am really worried is to stop, turn around, and head back. But I don’t turn around, I keep going, trying to be careful, trying not to break anything, trying not to pinch flat (the Krampus has tubes).

I once walked a long way with a broken chain. Another time I rode slowly for ages until it was nearly dark with a front tyre that was almost flat, and no pump. I have made a point of being semi-prepared for anything ever since. But not lately, not in the bike park, and not today.

I get to my goal, the second big bridge at about 24 kilometres from the car. It is as stunning as ever, and having checked on that I can return.

As soon as I turn around I start feeling more sensible. At least I am going in the right direction. I could have kept going. I can almost take some kind of credit for being smart enough to turn around.

And then it started raining. To begin with, sort of misty stuff that I can believe is low cloud. Then slightly wetter misty stuff. Then actual solid rain. It sets in, and doesn’t let up. I get soaked to the skin.

But hey, I didn’t crash. The bike functions to the end. Both ends hold air.

The cafe at Whakamaru makes acceptable coffee, a good ham and cheese roll, and whoever made the melting moment bikkies was working from a photograph with no clues as to scale.

They are almost as big as my head. I eat one anyway.


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