37km 113 elevation
I awoke through the night to heavy rain and gusty winds, wondering if I’d made the right decision to delay finishing. Luckily by the time I got my bike packed (for the last time - gulp) the rain had cleared. The winds were still quite frisky tho and I knew this would be a fitting end to my trip. Cruising down in the sunshine with a wind at my heels wouldn’t have been representative of the tour so far.
I called in to a local bike shop on the way back to the cycle Trail and asked if they had any booking capacity to pack the bike into the box I sourced earlier. They said they were booked solid for a few days, but I was welcome to come into the shop to use their tools. While I was there I took the opportunity to borrow their bike pump to put a bit more juice in my tyres, knowing the surface of the trail was good and a firm tyre makes for easier peddling.
Riding the last bit of the cycle Trail was enjoyable, with the moody skies and frisky side wind keeping things interesting. With 20 km to go until Bluff I needed to join state highway one. The guidebook suggested riding this part on the weekend or after 5 pm to try to avoid trucks . For once I could’ve trusted the guidebook. It was a very short but busy section of the highway and given the blustery head / cross winds and the fact there was not much shoulder I found it quite frightening.
I stopped at one point to give myself some Danish carriage (creamy milk chocolate) instead of Dutch courage (cycling and alcohol don’t mix) trying to psych myself up for the last push. As I was struggling along God decided to send me my last Trail angels, who passed me one by one. This Quartet was singing a song I liked:
First rider - how’s it going?
Me - bit scary actually
Second rider – there’s a lot of trucks.
Me – (nodding)
Third rider – jump on the back
Me - (nodding harder)
Fourth rider – jump on the back mate.
Me- I’ll try!
If you’re not familiar with Cycling you might not know about the concept of drafting. By inviting me to join on the back of their bunch these riders were offering to save me about 30% effort. I knew that even when it started to really hurt, it would be worth my while to stick with them as long as I could. We took a bit of a detour and had to backtrack slightly but it was still worth it to be able to benefit from their efforts, and encouragement. I also felt safety in numbers might help, as Cycling along on my own for that stretch I had wondered if the trucks were struggling to see me.
Just shy of Bluff we saw the rain clouds coming, and after a few stops for various people to put on extra layers somehow I ended up at the front of the bunch as we were coming into Town. Knowing the efforts they had put in for the last 5 Ks made me want to try my best for them now it was my turn at the front. I was worried I might be going to bit too slow and was waiting for them to overtake me, when I heard a voice from behind ask, “Hey, Are you on a f**king e-bike or something?!” I guess I had gotten a bit too eager.
I got more and more excited the closer I got to Stirling Point, but the wind perversely seem to get stronger to thwart my efforts for a last push to the finish. As I crested the last hill and saw my parents waiting for me I was quite emotional. It was definitely the right decision to wait until they could celebrate with me.
After thanking the guys for helping me to the end, I waited my turn to have my photo taken under the sign which points to the direction I’ve come from, all the way back to Cape Reinga, over 3000km ago. Friends of my parents are visiting here at the moment and they stashed my bike in their car. I was thankful that I didn’t need to cycle back to invercargill, even with a tail wind that road is nasty. Thanks Francis and Cecily.
We had a celebratory lunch at the Oyster Cove, over looking the wind tossed waves of Fovaux Straight. Back in the Toy apartment I wanted to sit and melt into the sofa again, but the job wasn’t done yet. Back to the bike shop with the box, and using their tools (and occasional muscle- those pedals were tight) I got my Precious safely packed away. Ready to go back home.
it’s been 28 days which somehow manage to both feel like a whole life time, and the mere blink of an eye. If you’ve been kind enough to track my progress, thank you. For all of the messages of support, and prayers for safety and sanity, thank you. I’m so grateful for this experience , thank you for sharing it with me.
Invercargill estuary trail
Oops my sunnies were a casualty of the ride