This One Time I Tried To Ride My Bike From Mount Maunganui To Morrinsiville And Failed

refilling-drink-bottle-top-of-kaimais

This one time I tried to ride from home in Mount Maunganui to Morrinsville, a distance of 94 kilometres.

I estimated an average speed of 25kph so thought the ride would take 4 hours.

My wife and I were meeting her family for lunch in Morrinsville at 12, so I set off at 8am, and she was to follow in the car, leaving at 11am.

Upon setting off it became immediately obvious that this estimate was not conservative enough.  The head wind was vicious.  And even on the flat, before I began my climb of the Kaimai ranges, I was struggling to maintain an average of 20kph.

Oh dear.

However, I dug deep and persevered.

Half way into my ascent of the Kaimai ranges, the weather turned nasty.  The warm spring day become a harsh winter day.

It rained. I got soaked through (I was only wearing my bike shorts and shirt).

The wind got stronger.  I was almost buffeted into traffic on a couple of occassions.

The temperature plummeted from 19 degrees to about 5 degrees. My breath was frosty.

It got foggy, I was actually in the rain clouds.

My 5cm of cycle lane going up the Kaimai Ranges (before the weather turned nasty)
My 5cm of cycle lane going up the Kaimai Ranges (before the weather turned nasty)

That’s when I got worried.

Huge logging trucks were coming up behind me and I didn’t have a fluro vest on, so they couldn’t see me through the fog until the last minute.  I had 5 centimetres of cycle lane to myself. Sometimes zero.

Even though I was still putting a big effort into my ride, it wasn’t enough to keep me warm. I started shivering.

I was in real trouble.

I looked over into the sheep farms beside the road and imagined grabbing a sheep, lying down on the ground and plonking the sheep on top of me to keep me warm.

I started looking for a farm house that I could seek shelter from, but all I could see was muddy farm roads. I had no idea how far along these roads the farm house might be, and I would have to walk in my cycle shoes with cleats.

Finally I saw a big red sign on the side of the road with a tarseal driveway.  The sign said “Farm Kills”.  I hoped this farm would be quite the opposite; my lifeline.

I rode past a few farm sheds up to the farm house.  I wrenched my frozen fingers off the handlebars and dismounted.

I knocked on the front door, hoping it would be flung wide and I would be warmly welcomed in (emphasis on the “warmly”!).  I envisaged a steaming shower and sitting around infront of a roaring fire in a dressing gown sipping cognac while my clothes were washed and dried.

Alas, it was not to be.

No-one opened the door. The place was deserted.

Apart from a vicious attack dog that was alerted to my presence and came racing around the corner of the house to bark at me.

Actually it wasn’t particularly vicious. And I beyond giving a damn.  I walked around to the verander of the property and had another knock on the ranchslider door just in case.  No answer.

The vicious attack dog that wasn't actually all that vicious.
The vicious attack dog that wasn't actually all that vicious.

I sat down on the veranda exhausted but thankful to be out of the rain and wind.  And after a few minutes the dog joined me.

I called my wife (thankfully my cellphone was still working despite the rain), and told her to leave a little early so she could pick me up on the way to Morrinsville.

The deer staring at me over the fence
The deer staring at me over the fence

As I was sitting there waiting, I noticed a herd of deer at the fence. They stared curiously at me. I stared wearily back at them.

So that’s it.

My attempt to ride over the Kaimai’s failed that day.

But I learnt a few valuable lessons for a later attempt:

1. Don’t even bother leaving if there’s going to be a ferocious head wind the whole way

2. Wear a fluro-vest even if it’s the middle of the day

3. If the weather turns to shit, quit.

4. When estimating the time, add at least 50% to the normal speed estimate

View of the Waikato from the top of the Kaimai's
View of the Waikato from the top of the Kaimai's

And I did have another attempt 3 weeks later. And this time, success! It took 5 hours, at an average speed of 18kph.  My average during training rides is about 30kph so this gives you an indication of the difficulty.

Whew.

Goal achieved.

refilling-drink-bottle-top-of-kaimais
Refilling my drink bottle from the spring at the top of the Kaimai's

I Put A Chicken Out Of It’s Misery… Somewhat Humanely

chicken-feather-on-grassThis one time we were staying with my Dad in New Plymouth.

The daily task for my cousin and I was to collect the eggs from a family friends chicken coop, who lived nearby, while they were away.

On the first day we noticed one of the hens getting picked on. Classic “pecking order” stuff.  We shooed the other hens away but couldn’t do much else.

On the second day he looked a bit beaten up, and while we were there feeding them and collecting the eggs, one chicken after another would come past him and peck at the comb on top of his head!

Cruel bastards!

We shooed them away, but couldn’t do much else.

On the third day he was in really bad shape. He was sitting in the coop on an odd angle with his eyes half closed. The comb on the top of his head was completely gone, reduced to a bloodied mat of feathers.

I picked him up and stroked him for a while. But it was obvious he hadn’t eaten or drank in days and he had brain damage, barely conscious.

So we did the humane thing. We let him go…

And when I say “let him go”, I mean:

  • We got back in the car, with the chicken cradled in my cousins lap…
  • We accelerated up to 100km an hour on the open road…
  • Opened the passenger window…
  • And chucked the chicken out…
  • We turned the car around…
  • Found him just on the edge of the road…
  • So I asked my cousin to help me position the front left tyre just behind the chicken…
  • And floored it…
  • After tearing up the road, we swung the car around and returned to the spot…
  • And found only 4 or 5 feathers…
  • The chicken had evaporated and had been put out of it’s misery… somewhat humanely
  • Mission accomplished.

My cousin, is still traumatised whenever I remind him of this story.

chicken-feather-on-grass

I Had A Huge Bottle Rocket Fight With Some Friends On School Property

moon-traveller-bottle-rocketsThis one time, in our last year of high school at John Paul College in Rotorua, 2 friends and I set off to The Warehouse one weekend to buy a pack of “Moon Traveller” bottle rockets (and a lighter).

They came in 12 packs of 12.

Yes, that’s 144 rockets each.

We went to the school grounds that Saturday, and to the far corner of the property which has a stream on 3 sides and a big shed for the schools lawn mowing equipment.

The precise location is shown on this map:

View Larger Map

And there we had our bottle rocket war.

No eye protection. No rules. Just 144 rockets each and a lighter.  Just 2 hours of exhilerating danger and fun.

Sure, we got burn holes in our good clothes, and a few mildly toasted fingers. But nobody died. Nobody lost an eye.  It was just good old fashioned, play-in-the-dirt fun.

In fact, it was so much fun, the next day (Sunday) we did the same again, this time with another friend.

So the 4 of us had another 576 bottle rockets between us.

More burn holes in our favourite clothes, more burnt fingers but still no major injuries.

The next day at school assembly, the principal asked who was responsible for the 1000 spent bottle rockets lying around that corner of the property.

None of us said a word.

I Got Confused With Day Light Savings And My Clocks Were Out By 3 Hours

This one time, late one night on the evening of day light savings, I put all the clocks forward one hour as instructed by the reminders on TV.

But when I woke up the next day I couldn’t recall if I had done all the clocks, so I went through the house and put the clocks that I didn’t think I had changed yet, forward an hour.

It wasn’t until later that afternoon that I realised my mistake.

Instead of putting the clocks back, I had put them forward. Twice.

So I was out by 3 hours.

Most embarrassing.

But give me a break, I was only 10.

Since then I have learned the expression “Spring forward, fall back”, and I never go wrong.

I Paid 3 Times As Much For My Socks Than For My Shoes

This one time, I needed a new pair of cross trainers. Nothing flash, just some casual shoes to muck around in. The Warehouse is the place to go for bargains of course. I steer clear of the shit “Active Intent” brand, I go for the well known brands – Aasics, Slazenger.

Anyway, I found a pair that were just perfect, and even better – they were “reduced to clear” – only $34.95! Stoked!

Grabbed some socks on the way out – $15 for a pack of 5. Paid at the counter, and checked my receipt on the way out. The total bill had come out a bit cheaper than I was expecting. The shoes had scanned at $4.98!

I thought maybe the barcodes got mixed up somehow, but no, it looked legit.

I knew there was one more pair on the shelf, and at $4.98 it was quite a deal. Sure enough I grabbed the other pair and used the instore scanner to check the price. Confirmed: $4.98. Great!

The only bummer is that it made me feel like my socks were a rip off since they cost me three times as much as my shoes…

Side note about the Active Intent brand

Look closer at the brand name. Active Intent. “Sportswear designed for those who intend to be active but don’t get around to it.” That’s why its shit quality.

I Filled Up A Notebook With The Numbers On Trains Passing By

This one time, I was staying with my uncle in Paikakariki and I was dead bored. It is a tiny town with nothing to do. The only feature is a set of rail way tracks down the road. So I used to sit on the roof of the garage in a fold-away chair with a 3B1 notebook and write down the numbers of the train engines as they went back and forth, for hours at a time. Occasionally I would think a number sounded familiar and would look back in the notebook to see if I had seen that one before.

That’s it.

But, I was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you! To find out 15 years later that what I had been doing has a name: “Trainspotting”! Shocked because I thought I had invented it. And to find out that other people had done what I was doing… What a bunch of losers we were.

I Got Really Mad Because The Neighbours Were Noisy

This one time, I went to bed at about 10 on a Friday night and was woken by music playing quite loudly at 11:30pm. I grumbled to myself about how inconsiderate the teenage members of family next door were. I had had a busy week and was very tired.

My sleep over the next couple of hours was frequently interrupted by loud bits in the songs they were playing. Several times I considered getting up and complaining but I didn’t quite get around it.

Finally, at about 1am the music died down.

The next morning at about 6am our hard-of-hearing elderly neighbour started blasting out that mornings tv show from her TV! On my sleep-in morning no less! I could not believe my luck. I considered moving house! I stormed out of bed at about 7:30am to take a leak. I threw open the bedroom door and proceeded to walk down the hall on the way to the toilet when I realised where all this noise had been coming from. I had left my own TV on all night. I must have set it to mute before I went to bed.

It’s a temperamental TV and it must have unmuted itself the previous night. I had been grumbling about my neighbours when it had been my fault all along and I had probably kept them awake all night!

I Packed Way Too Much For A High School Camping Trip

This one time, in my last year of high school we went on our end of year camping trip.

I hadn’t been on a camp before where you had to carry all your stuff on your back rather than just pack it into a car. I had no idea what to pack. I borrowed a huge backpack from a family friend and stuffed it full. For the 3 night trip I packed 3 pairs of jeans, 4 towels, 3 pairs of shoes, 5 pairs of undies etc etc. It was damn heavy. We climbed a mountain – Mount Tongariro in the Tongariro National Park, New Zealand.

The hours dragged on, it started to rain, my pack got heavier. We got to the first hut in the dark, we were one of the last teams to arrive.

There was only a freezing mountain stream so I didn’t even wash, so I didn’t use any of my towels during our stay. I didn’t get changed once. I lugged all that crap up a mountain and didn’t even use it! I learnt my lesson and now I have a reputation for packing very very lean.

(Not as bad as my auntie who walked the Milford track carrying one of those hair drying machines that you sit under in a case, when there wasn’t any sockets to plug it into anyway!)

I Shared My Method Of How I Would Get One More Phone Call Out Of A Flat Cellphone Battery

This one time, I was chatting to a work mate about how, in emergency situations, you can charge your flat cellphone batteries just enough for one more phonecall with sunlight. Recently, a couple of climbers got into trouble on a NZ mountain and used that trick to call for a rescue. My work mate asked me if I would have thought of that. I told her that I probably would have just used body heat to warm the batteries, perhaps by sitting on it. She said it needs sunlight to work. And I said, “Well, the sun does shine out of my arse!”

I Accidently Ran A Half Marathon

This one time, I set off on my first 10km run at a public event with 200 other competitors. I had been training for a few months, running 5km at a time, two or three times a week in preparation, but no further. I figured I was pretty fit so running twice my training distance on the day wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

I paced myself carefully to run 5mins per kilometre. Sure enough, at the 5km mark I was right on schedule – 25mins. I was feeling really good, and confident of hitting my target of 50mins. I knew the area pretty well but I didn’t now exactly where the finish line was nor the exact path we were running that day.

The 45 min mark came and went, the finish line was no where in sight.

50 min mark. I was disappointed in myself, I had not finished yet, I had missed my target.

60 min mark. Really gutted! I should have done much more training! I was getting tired and calculated that my pace was slower than 6mins per km. Not good

80 min mark. WTF is going on? I suck! I’m still running! Could I have taken a wrong turn? No. I was running with others. I finally passed a pair of very old ladies. Oh, man, I must be slow if its taken me this long to catch up to them! I asked a few competitors who ran past me “Hey, did I take a wrong turn? This is the 10km race right, not the half marathon?” They would laugh and say “Keep going mate, you’re almost there”. I asked 3 people including one spectator. They all replied the same

And so I kept running until I was exhausted.

100mins into the race I started walking instead. And for another 20 mins I alternated between slow jog and walking. So tired. So very very tired.

Finally, I crossed the finish line: 2 hours and 2 minutes after the start. I was so disappointed in myself, so much slower than I thought I was.

I stayed for the prize giving incase I got a spot prize. I didn’t. A couple of hours later I got a map of the area out and tried to figure out what I had done wrong. I traced out the route I had taken and roughly measured it against the key. Then it dawned on me. I had just accidently ran a half marathon. The longest run of my life. And actually, my time wasn’t too bad…