Day 17, Nelson to Murchison

164km 1613 m elevation

It all happened quite quickly. I was having a great day, smashing along with a slight downhill and even a tailwind. Next thing I knew, I was wanting to lie down on the road and fall asleep. 

First light I was bidding farewell to my gracious hosts Sandra and Garth and scooting down The Great Taste Trail to meet Nerena and Scott in Richmond.  They had spent their day off with the Harbers. 

The great taste is lovely, winding  its way through some of the farms, orchards and vineyards in the region. The surface is well made and a very gentle gradient. I kept thinking of my Mum and Dad as i cycled along  this part because I thought how much they would enjoy it. I had never seen hops growing before, they reminded me of the “Day of the Triffids” novel. 

Wakefield was a very cute wee town but we didn’t stop, knowing that we had a big day ahead of us to get to Murchison. Spooner's tunnel was fun to ride through with a headlamp, it’s an old rail tunnel 1.4 km long between Wakefield and Tapawera. 

I stopped for lunch at Tapawera since they had a lot of gluten-free options including a generous piece of caramel chocolate slice, delicious! 

My sister had warned me about the highways in the South Island with lots of trucks, it certainly feels like they won’t take prisoners. Because I wanted to get off highway six as quickly as possible I put in a big effort to get to Kawatiri Junction. That took a lot out of me. I was hoping to be able to eat something in the cafe at Lake Rotoroa, since I was feeling like I needed some fuel at this point. Unfortunately they didn’t have anything gluten-free so I added water to my Radix meal and set my timer for 10 minutes while we rolled to the lake to take the checkpoint photo. I planned to eat my meal at the Lake but the sandflies were ferocious and the bumblebees were also quite scary flying underneath my sunglasses. I decided to try and wait until the top of the Braeburn saddle and eat my meal there.

This was when the wheels started to fall off. I only made it halfway up the climb (which was quite steep, going up over  200 m elevation in less than 3 km) before I started to feel quite wobbly and knew I couldn’t wait for food any longer. I ate my rehydrated meal but because of the bumblebees and other bugs I couldn’t relax and ate quite quickly. I thought I’d be able to finish off digesting it on the way down the other side.

I mentioned to Nerena and Scott I wasn’t feeling very well and Nerena seemed a bit concerned with my lack of energy.   Since we were only 20 km from Murchison at that point I encouraged them to go ahead and check us in to the hotel, assuring them I would be along as soon as I could.

I started to feel worse, giddy, nauseous and really sleepy. I put my bike on the side of the road, sat down in the ditch and almost lay back on the road. Your brain needs a lot of energy to work, just like your muscles and I had used too much energy and not given my brain enough food. I had enough logic left to know that lying on the road was a dumb idea so I crawled to the side, lay against the dirt bank and set a timer for 10 minutes. After nodding off for 10 minutes I felt like I could continue and so slowly made my way into Murchison. 

After some more food and water I was almost feeling 100% again. It was scary for me to learn I could feel so awful just from lack of energy. I know I need a lot of food and so I had taken the required fuel with me but just hadn’t made the time to eat it. I had a discussion with Nerena and Scott about how I need food more frequently than they do. They seem to run on the smell of an oily rag whereas I need high octane fuel frequently. They assured me they don’t mind waiting for me when I’m eating and would definitely prefer that to me lying down on the road again.

I would prefer that too.  

Garth and Sandra

Wakefield Church

Spooner tunnel

Team reunited

Lake Rotoroa