Upon our arrival to New Zealand we drove to the Lake Tekapo area. Lake Tekapo was gorgeous. The campground had a really great view of the lake. Lake Tekapo was a really cool shade of turquoise with mountains for a back drop. Just down the street was this really cool stone church, The Church of the Good Shepherd. It looked like a postcard. We assembled our bikes and headed out for a ride ASAP. It was a bit overcast at first and rainy, but we didn't care. We were on vacation. The roads in New Zealand were windy and narrow. We took the roads less traveled by and traffic was scarce. A lot of roads on the South Island were tar-n-chip, teaching me a new appreciation for all parts carbon on my bike. It was fun exploring New Zealand via velo. I knew we were close to Mt. Cook. I asked Tim if we going to see Mt. Cook that day. I was puzzled, it seemed so close on the map yet it was no where in sight. Darn Kiwis, can't they make a map? I thought. Tim choked a laugh and replied "I don't know. Why don't you ask God? Huh?......"It's just to the left if the fog lifts"He replied. Wow the current scenery was great but seeing Mt.Cook would be even better like. About 15 minutes later the clouds cleared and the view of Mt. Cook was astonishing. Yippee..... this was going to be an even better ride. At mile 32, we took a little break to snap a few pictures of Mt. Cook and Lake Pukakai. We were starting to get hungry. Did we turn back now or ride 14 miles to the next town for some New Zealand grub. Intrigued by road signs for a town called Twizel we pedaled on. According to the "Lonely Planet" guide Twizel has quirky charm and tenacious residents. What could be better than having lunch in a place that's quirky and tenacious. We found a great picnic table in the town square to have lunch. I had a small sandwich while Tim feasted on a large meal of fish and chips. After all with so many lakes the fish had to be good. As my brother Tom would say he "stuffed his gullet" We enjoyed a cup of New Zealand's fine cappuccino and turned back toward camp. As we road on the wind picked up and we had a few hills to climb. I noticed Tim slowed a bit from his norm. We were at a conversation pace. Usually Tim uses the "chatter index" to set the pace. If I'm chattering a lot he know's he can go faster........or something like that. Aww, how sweet I think. He must be setting a slower pace so we can catch up. I started chattering thinking it was a great time to catch up. In retrospect, this probably wasn't the best time for chatter. Soon I noticed Tim was getting quiet and the pace was getting even slower. My legs felt remarkably fresh and my food had settled so I tucked in front of him to increase our average pace and give him a break. Tim said he had lost his fitness secondary to working 95 hours a week during his internship. He said he was hurting. Little did he know I set him up by encouraging him to eat the fish and chips. If I had eaten the fish and chips he would have had to tie a rope to my bike and pulled me home. I don't think drafting a girl on a pink bike was his idea of masculinity and remained inconsolable. At about mile 76 I noticed Tim wasn't on my back wheel any more. I had to stopped and let kindly waited for him. Hooray, just once I had dropped him. This is very significant as we have some inside jokes pertaining to this matter. If it wasn't for the fish and chips I might never have seen the day where I could crop Tim. I would have had to resort to jimmying his breaks or letting some air out of his tires. Believe it or not I actually didn't give Tim a hard time about getting dropped by a girl on a pink bike I simply threw on my running shoes and bricked a couple miles.
January 2007: Embarking for New Zealand
After about three hours of packing my bike so securely it could be chucked out of the plane at top speed with no damage I think it may be just safe enough for TSA not to damage. I arrive at LAX with 3 weeks worth of clothing and the tri club double bike box. I must be quite a site. I'm 5'3 this box is bigger than me. The shuttle attendants are asking me if my boyfriend is in that box. "My boyfriend or my bike? I had to choose and it's ......well my bike."( and my boyfriend's bike I didn't add) I smile and giggle as the attendants help me lug my box and luggage into the shuttle. I can feel the cranky business men shooting me daggers as we embark to the airport. First stop Air New Zealand. They glare again while I lug my stuff off the shuttle. Once again I smile and I laugh. They should take up cycling. It would be good for them. They need to loosen up. I bet the Bella Velo's could drop them. Hee, Hee, Hee I smile as I picture there stuffy faces when they can't keep up with a bunch of girls.
Checking in at Air NZ they weigh my box. The attendant tells me my bike box is 0.6 kg overweight. Big deal. So am I. Most of the airline passengers are about 16 kg overweight. She doesn't consider this and wants me to obstruct the line and remove things until my box looses 0.6 kg. Ugg - this is not going to be pretty. I stall and pretend to comply. She leaves happily and another agent comes. He charges me $20 and calls it good. He gives me a receipt and tells me to reuse it if I get hassled again. Whew. Bags are checked I'm boarding the plane. I fly on an overnight flight to New Zealand where my boyfriend will pick me up in the camper van we will call home for the next 2.5 weeks.
If you have seen the movie Bridget Jones perhaps you remember the scene where she is riding along in a convertible and her hair gets all ratted up. I stickes up six inches from her head. Well, this is what my hair looks like when I awaken in NZ. Nothing short of a fire extinguisher is going to tame this mane. So much for impressing the boyfriend I haven't seen in a week. Hopefully he missed me too much to notice.
The plan was to start the New Year off with a Bella Velo Century Ride. Only Tina, Joy, and I were representing. Due to the early morning chill and the fabulous New Year's eve party at Tina's .....we pushed back the start time to 9 am thereby forfeiting the chance to do a full century. On my way to Fiesta Island to meet Joy and Tina, I felt less guilty about the later start time. There were a lot of gals doing the walk of shame. This is the walk commonly seen by girls who are dressed in their best on Sunday morning ......only they are not walking to church. They are sporting Saturday night's high heels and makeup. Yes, anything earlier than 9 am on New Year's day is uncivilized. Brrrr......it's chilly this morning too. I snuggle inside the "Good n Plenty" winter riding jacket my boyfriend Tim got me for Christmas. Uh oh..... hope I'm not "Good n Plenty" or if I am it "Good n Plenty" in a good way. Once rolling, I insist we we stop at Starbucks in Del Mar to consume performance enhancing caffeine and warm up the finger tips. As my brother Tom would say "Let's go to SBUX and get bizzled.".At first, I don't think Joy is really keen on this idea. She still thinks we are going to do a Century today and this will cut into our mileage. I explain to her that most gals are still arriving home from last night's affairs and she agrees to coffee with a smile. Tina's friend Aaron meets us at Sbux to join the ride. I am introduced. I hope he either has a high tolerance for chatter or a hearing impairment. The chatter index on Bella rides is HIGH. I often find myself a little hoarse after riding with the gals. The ride is fun. Just an easy, beautiful ride on the coast to celebrate living in San Diego and the New Year. Tina and I turn around early and only ride 81 miles as we have other things to do today. I want to see my boyfriend. He's leaving the next day for a week of surfing before I meet him in New Zealand. Joy presses on and grabs a few more miles before calling it a day. What a fun way to start the year.