The following adventures have taken place this week.
First, my wife & son went skiing. She opines that standing on top of a mountain covered with snow, with planks strapped to her boots calculated to minimise her attachment to Mother Earth, and thereafter surrendering herself to the laws of physics, is done in the certainty that the entertainment will outweigh the broken legs.
I did not ski but rather loaded my recumbent into the van and, the following morning, set out to ride home. It had occurred to me to annoy Mr Knight by telling him of the expedition, because he likes long rides and I knew he'd be mad.
Now then, m'boy, I graciously grant you permission anxiously to check the weather every two minutes tomorrow between St Arnaud and Motueka, because Mrs My Wife is going skiing and I am lugging a recumbent in the back of the van and am going to jolly ride it home tomorrow, with this much training behind me: zero. I am fearful and full of fear because I do not do rides longer than 20 miles. I am going to hypermile. My brother told me about hypermiling: he did it in the Shell Mileage Marathon back in the early 80s. They had to power a person (tiny girl, surprise surprise) at a minimum of 15mph round a figure-of-eight track. The other day I hypermiled in the van, and found the most economical way was to accelerate hard to 70kph, which took 5 seconds, and knock it out of gear, and let it coast down to 50kph which took 15 seconds. Ignoring calculus, I was therefore using fuel for .25 of the distance and since the van does about 38mpg driven normally and probably a lot less when accelerating hard, there is the possibility I was getting lots more than 38 mpg. So tomorrow I shall roll down every single hill and pedal languorously the rest of the time and see if I can get home without my legs turning into jelly. Yes I know you'd do it in three hours - kindly *uck off and die - I think I'm Jolly Brave and need prayers to help me, like the Governor of Oklahoma has got the population to pray for rain, the utter moron. (Google it if you don't believe me. Amazing but true.)
Mr Knight, thus apprised, instantly emailed me. (I knew he would.):
I've just checked this route on www..mapmyride.com and it's mostly downhill with two notable uphill bits at 13 and 37 miles assuming that you are going from the centre of St. Arnaud via Tophouse road. I've ridden all of it except for the bit from Tophouse to the junction near that firing range. I know the second hill just outside Tapawera at 37 miles and it's quite hard but mercifully short, I know nothing about the first hill at 13 miles which looks worserer. Tophouse is the high point at 2450 feet (!) and your house is the low point. I've attached a picture of the elevation over the route to help ease your troubled brow.
Take lots of food and drink with you and drink before you're thirsty and eat before you're hungry. I usually eat something every 30 minutes on a long ride, sometimes it's hard to do.
I'm very jealous and would love to do it instead of sitting here pretending to program but typing to you instead. We have a fablious day here and I'd much rather be riding.
If it goes badly and you die, can I have your hand shaper?
It did not go badly. I did not die. He can't have my hand shaper.
I set off at 8.44 am and the snow was a foot deep at the side of the road and I wore 2 pairs of long cycling trousers and 2 pairs of gloves and 3 cycling jerseys and a teeshirt and I wore earwarmers and I was *ucking Cold. There was an icy headwind all the way to the Tophouse turning and there were patches of black ice all over the St Arnaud roads and there was a mass of fog, but luckily this blew away and I was only in fog for very brief periods. I cranked my way gingerly out of St Arnaud to Tophouse at about 7mph and wondered if I was in fact a Stupid Person. There were black ice patches all the way along the Tophouse road to the Kikiwa junction, and indeed all along the Kikiwa road to Korere. I got very frightened several times when approaching black ice at over 30mph on narrow hard tyres, and did quite a lot less hypermiling and quite a lot more pre-emptive braking than I'd anticipated. Once a car came towards me at about seventy miles (miles) an hour with black ice just round the corner where the driver couldn't see it though she'd obviously passed over some beforehand because I encountered it later. Much better driver than me, obviously, because I would have either driven more cautiously or skidded off and been killed. - I did pass a couple of women placing flowers on a roadside white cross. They were in a car which later passed me with several inches to spare on an open clear road. -
I didn't do the Kerr Hill route past the gun club because I've done that before and it almost killed me. It's a lot steeper and more persistent than it looks on the map, is Kerr Hill. It is in fact *ucking horrible.
There was lots of fog on SH6 to Kohatu and indeed from Kohatu to Tapawera and I once got run off the road by a petrol tanker who very obviously wasn't going to slow down or pull out for me. I stopped at Nutbrown's farm because I saw him fiddling outside his barn and he let me lie down on his kitchen floor with my feet against the wood-burner, and then my feet stopped being as cold as very cold feet. Nutbrown isn't his real name but - well, anyway, - he's a tramper, and I think, doesn't spend excessively on sunblock. - He nearly jumped out of his overalls when I rode up behind him and called his name. (I didn't say "Hi Nutbrown.")
That hill outside Tapawera has a name and I was reminded what it was and I forgot it the moment I was on the bike again. But it's 0.6 miles to the top at 4mph, and a rather terrifying 40mph on the descent before I started squeezing the brakes. At Ngatimoti I ate half a cheese sandwich and drank a litre of water, at which point my average speed was 16.1 mph, but at 50 miles I was tired, and ended up with an average of 15.9mph, having bravely pedalled hard at the end to stop it nudging down to 15.8 which is what the computer was threatening to do.
Arrived home at 1.42. The forecast was for light rain, but I didn't get any at all. The sun was a pallid harrier behind the clouds and I didn't have to wear sunglasses once. A possum ran away from me on the West Bank Road, which surprised me very much because it was half-past one in the afternoon and possums don't do daytime. It wasn't a rabbit because it had a long tail and it wasn't a pig because nobody was shooting it or stabbing it to death.
Trip 67.21 miles
Average 15.9 mph
Max 41.0 mph
Calories 2190.7 (yeah, right)
Time 4hrs 13 mins 23 sec
Then my wife telephoned. Somebody found her on the ski-field and took her to see John who had inexplicably put one of his skis through his trouser-leg and gouged his knee open. It needed stitching but she had no stitches in St Arnaud so she came home. This meant I had to clean the bathroom instead of checking my emails, or I'd have found out that
a) Mr Knight had been in touch to say
We don't get black ice here, we get very cold mornings but no rain ever (except this morning) so very, very seldom any ice, which means that when we do get ice, nobody has a clue how to drive on it. We did have freezing fog last week and when I got to work I resembled a snow man, only colder. And no carrots. Or coal.
b) Mr Schroder has one of those idlers on his new FWD too, so he and Young McLeod of McLeod have obviously been collaborating more than I know. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4g--38Pcn0