“I shall stay until the winds change” Mary Poppins
In this instance I agree whole heartedly with Mary. Since arriving on Tuesday we have heard more than one New Zealander refer to the weather in NZ as “four seasons in one day”. Today we had a single season: the windy one. As we packed up our bikes this morning to leave Haka Lodge on our way to Rakaia Gorge it did seem windy, but in the garden we had no idea in what direction. We pulled onto the road and it was right in our faces. Which was the direction we would be taking all day.
As we arrived near the centre of town Adam signalled to pull over. He turned around to look at me with the words, “this is ridiculous”. Indeed. Adam is not normally one to bail on a ride in difficult weather conditions; that job is left solely to me. So for Adam to be thinking about quitting a ride goes some way to describe the conditions we were facing. I could barely hold my bike upright in the wind, and road debris such including stones and grit were getting blown into our faces.
We decided to take the opportunity to try and find a battery insert for one of our Hope Vision 1 lights (yes – another thing we forgot/misplaced). The wind was not dropping. We considered our options: 1) push on, having covered 5 miles/8 km in over an hour; this would invariably result in a murder (me murdering Adam) so was dismissed; 2) return to Haka Lodge and see if we could stay another night; 3) look for another campsite on route; 4) go to the Jailhouse hostel, which if you do a search for hostels in Christchurch you are bound to find. The Jailhouse was 1 mile away so we thought we would give it a go…we got the last room.
We decided to take a walk around town and pontificate on our “failure”. But is this a failure? I personally do not think so. A wise man (Adam) once said to me when we were discussing winter mountaineering that it is not just about the skills required to navigate and walk/climb, but also the ability to make the decision to bail if conditions aren’t suitable. I think this applies here. When we walked into town, there were more than a few tree branches that had snapped off in the wind. Some so severe that the roads had to be closed. Yeah – that’s how strong the wind was. So I think it was the right decision. Of course we are frustrated by the turn of events, probably more so as this was our first day, which perhaps amplifies any niggles of failure. But, we have the luxury of time so why push ourselves when we don’t have to.
On the bright side, Adam gets to take part in the local Parkrun tomorrow morning, therefore justifying him bringing trainers and running gear (as if cycling wasn’t enough). So here we are in the Jailhouse (far less homely than the Haka, but given one is a former prison and the other is a former family home, that’s hardly surprising), sheltering from the wind, and hoping that, like Mary, it changes tomorrow so that we can leave.