… on tour.
When I got here and even several days into the trip I was like “I’m not on tour yet but I’ll know it when I see it.” Day after day after day I was still not yet on tour. Now I am.
What does that even mean? Honestly, I’m not sure.
Maybe it happened when I finally gave up on a hill. I ended up walking up the rest of the way, not the first hill I walked up, I even had one of those in the first day, but it was the first time where if someone had driven past and asked me if I wanted a ride, I would have said yes, absolutely, please save me from this hill. It was a combination of the steepness, the road surface (very chunky gravel), and the 12km extra I’d done that day as a result of missing a turn.
Maybe it happened when I decided to make that left turn and ride into Kaitaia, where I happened upon a parade and just … started crying. Why did I start crying? No idea. But there were lots of people around, out having fun, the local fire department was out in force blowing their sirens and honking their horns, there was a Santa in the back of a convertible, some rando dude on a loud motorcycle. It just overwhelmed me and told me I’d made the right decision to ride into Kaitaia instead of staying in Awanui.
Maybe it happened when I got all sorts of flustered and scared of the idea of riding my bike to Cape Reinga, with no services or camping or anything for 70km with nearly 1000m of climbing, most of which is at the end, and then having to ride back down a super steep hill to the campsite to then have to ride way back up and back all those hills again for 25km and constant headwinds on 90 mile beach and riding on sand and hating life and putting less kms per day on than people WALKING and freaking out and crying.
Maybe it happened when I decided to just take a tourist bus to Cape Reinga and scout the route. What water supply options are there? Are there accommodation options not shown on google maps? How about shops or restaurants? How’s the traffic? What do the hills look like? Is it pretty enough to make it worth my while?
Maybe it happened when, after leaving the literal last place to buy anything going north, passing a sign saying 20km to the Cape, we started climbing a huge hill, then went down the other side, and started going back up again and I decided, finally, that nope, I wasn’t going to ride all the way up there.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, or why, but it happened. I am officially on tour. Hills are still scary. Mileage still gives me anxiety. I’m constantly worried about finding accommodation. But that’s all just part of touring. That’s normal. There is no point so far on this trip other than a small handful of close passes from inconsiderate drivers that I can honestly say wasn’t at least type 2 fun. Even the stupidly rough gravel road descending down into Mangonui, which is probably the chunkiest gravel I’ve ever ridden on. Even the hill earlier that day that I gave up on. Even the felt-like-a-hurricane force wind I rode into coming into the campground at Oakura. It has all been worth doing.
It’s been worth doing for things like being the only person on a train with the tool to fix the air line that broke and left us stranded on the tracks.
It’s been worth doing for the awesome places I’ve stayed like the roadside hostel at Kahoe Farms and the awesome pizza cooked up by the host.
It’s been worth it for the bridge barely wide enough to ride my bike on.
It’s been worth it for all of the right reasons. And some of the wrong ones.
From here, I join the Tour Aotearoa cycling route and head south. Ahead of me are many days of uncertain accommodation options, spotty ferry schedules, lots of hills, lots of kms, probably some headwinds, hopefully some tailwinds. Ahead of me are many reasons why it’s worth it.