Blow Me!

I think there might be something wrong with me or with my kind magic bicycle. I have been peddling like a fly caught in a spider’s web. Pulling into camp after dark and barely making it. I may have turned into a moldy old lady in the past few days. That was my original thought.

My second thought came to me as a beautiful old man started teasing me about the wind. Apparently it is blowing with a vengeance right now. I knew the wind may have been slowing me down but unbeknownst to me I didn’t realize that most local folks on their bicycles call it quits on a windy day. I am a hearty Henderson and do have a tendency to take things a wee bit far some times. I am from a family of hearty weathered Canadians in which weather just doesn’t become a factor. Some people cancel on birthday parties and x-mas due to a snow storm or any other inclement weather. Not my family, we truck on no matter what without much thought or concern, a handy family trait I am grateful for at times.

I have been figuring that as long as the bicycle and me are going forward things are ok, until last night when I almost lost the tent. I staked my little tent to the ground and then weighted the inside down with the bicycles bags(panniers) and other gear. I went for a walk to find some water. On the way back with the water I noticed my green little tent taking a tumble through the grass on its way to the beach. It is not the first time I have witnessed a tent become a kite but it is the first time I have chased a tent loaded with gear, through the wind, barefoot, at top speed over rocks and grass. Ouch!

After some research I have learned that New Zealand is smack dab in the middle of “the roaring fourties”, an area between latitudes 40° and 50° south in the Southern Hemisphere, where the prevailing winds blow persistently from the west. The roaring forties have strong, often gale-force winds throughout the year. They were named by the sailors who first entered these latitudes. Basically if you draw a line around the earth at that latitude the entire area on either side of the line becomes more like a wind tunnel of variable winds. It explains a lot about my turtling pace and also why a few days ago while practicing my new hobby of bombing down hills as fast as possible, I was able to clock myself at a whopping 63km(40mph). Bombing down the hills of the Southern Alps mountain range of the South Island of New Zealand is great fun especially with a little extra wind power at your back. That’s the same speed as an old motor home, ok maybe not that fast.

However at times I peddle as fast as possible down a hill and barely go anywhere and at other times the wind pushes me along. The wind makes for some tricky bridge crossings. In which the wind pretty much just launches me and the bicycle sideways and hopefully not into traffic. My hands are a bit raw at the moment from squeezing the wobbly handle bars so tight on the breezy bridges.

When this business of cycling the world began 9 countries and a year ago I found myself contemplating the best vehicle for travel. I was almost sold on the idea of a sailboat and in fact cycled around Ireland boat shopping. The bicycle is my beloved vehicle of choice although my brain often drifts to how to rig a sail to this bicycle. Kite boarding and kite surfing are all the rage at the moment and perhaps kit biking is next. Dare to dream of the next adventure sport to hit the market, the Roaring Forties Kite Biking Company. At least I know of one customer who will be standing in line.

Skalatitude..."When humans and nature are living in harmony there is magic and beauty everywhere"
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