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If you don't hear from me by 7pm...




On Tuesday I received a text which read “Hi. I’m off to ride the Motu trail. They suggest letting someone know cause you know no cell reception etc. so if you don’t hear from me by about 7 tonight it might pay to start looking in the ditches. I hope you don’t mind this responsibility…”

There are several things about this text worth noting.

The first is the time, which showed excellent manners on the part of the sender.

8.21am, on the day of the adventure. Late enough to be unlikely to wake us, and also late enough to stop me  even thinking about immediately packing the van for a quick getaway.

If the text had come the previous evening there would have been a long debate about whether the piles of things waiting to be done in the office could simply be moved to the next day. Of course they could. Things you can’t do on a bike, can probably wait til tomorrow. But that whole dilemma was neatly avoided, we were already too late.

The second thing is the casual term “Motu Trail”. That could mean a variety of things, but coming as it did from this sender, it had to be the big one: 100kms in a loop, along the dunes and up the primitive Motu Road that heads directly into the wilderness from Opotiki, and back down the Pakihi Track, an old stock route that used to be a mission on its own. Even partially civilised by being made into a cycleway, a simple mistake could be a disaster. Some of the “ditches” referred to in the text are 100m deep.

Then there is the cutoff time. At 7pm anything we could do would be practically worthless, especially if our friend had overcooked a corner and plunged into a chasm. By the time we raised the alarm and a posse set out to find her, it would be dark. And we are not talking leafy suburbs streetlight dark. We are talking inky blackness with a good chance of rain.

So whether we minded the responsibility was sort of irrelevant. As this friend sometimes takes the wrong bikeon an adventure, we just advised her to take the mountain bike, and to have a good day.

At three thirteen pm we got a text with a photo of an ice cream, and the message “Whoop made it”.

That was a relief.

We had rearranged the piles of stuff to do without making them any smaller, and we didn’t feel like joining a search party.




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