I realise my trip was a little different to the full ‘KB’ – after leaving Hanmer on day 2 I was hoping for Hurunui or beyond. My rear derailleur had other ideas, somehow rotating 180 degrees upon itself and jamming the pivot solid, breaking the chain in the process. Eventually fixed the next morning at the bike shop in Hanmer using a large hammer....
My trip through the Wharfedale was a combination of naivety and brutality. My bike & gear were too heavy & ungainly and I ended up on the biggest hike-a-bike experience I’ve ever had. Over Arthur’s Pass the next morning I was in big trouble mentally, missing my family (my 22 month old daughter especially), yet somehow I didn’t want the riding to end. By Arthurs Pass village I realised that I’d hold the slowness record for KB by a long way unless I improved somehow and by Jacksons I’d decided to become a roadie to make up time. Maybe I could catch up to the others in front of me?
The discovery of my (up til then unused on the trip) MP3 player provided a useful distraction from dark thoughts and I continued – determined to get back to Blenheim under my own steam. I sincerely did not want my ride to end with a Bus trip back to Blenheim! I made a decision (helped by your text message) to skip some of the off road tracks to gain time and also ensure I didn’t end up even more of a basket case. Gear wise I didn’t have a lot of excess items, it’s just that the items I did have were not the lightest. My preparation hadn’t included jungle/hike-a-bike rides, so the weight aspect had gone un-noticed (in hindsight a mistake).
My final night was spent at Havelock – I’d suffered from ‘food anxiety’ after misreading maps & the 41km I had thought as the road distance from Nelson turned into 77km. Eating fish & chips at emergency speed at 9pm at the Havelock Pub while rocking out to the band that was playing seemed a great way to spend my final night.
Reflecting on the experience now shows it wasn’t all bad. Along the way I’d met some great people (Jackson’s Pub owner was fantastic & very funny, among others), discovered my talent for very bad singing to my MP3 player (I’d sometimes forget to stop singing when I rolled into a town) and totally enjoyed the food experience (think I entertained/horrified a few people at Pubs & Cafes).
I’ve learnt so much – not only about unsupported cycle touring/brevet (this was my first) but also about myself. Already I’m determined to have another go – this time on my hardtail (140mm of front & rear travel on what I was riding probably didn’t help either), with less/lighter stuff.
So thank you. What you started back in 2010 has inspired and motivated a large number of people – myself included.
See you in February 2014.