Covering from March 10th to March 12th
Above me, the white puffs turned to big gun-metal coloured rainclouds as I lowered my eyes to the horizon. It looked like rain, but, never-the-less, a smile was starting to form in my helmet. I couldn't care less about the weather. Between my legs, an old single-cylinder four-stroke was pounding along merrily. It was almost as old as me, but looked far worse. Like something scavenged from Chernobyl. Nevertheless, the engine seemed to be running smoothly. There was a slight rattle sometimes, but I didn't ask for the cause and the bike didn't tell. Gary'd told me to ignore it. Reminding the old girl of her flaws might annoy her. I didn't want to risk it. Not when she was taking so good care of me.
It was two nights after the Abel Tasman, and I was on a daytrip to the Golden Bay.
She was an old Kawasaki I'd borrowed off of Gary, the guy who sold me the Honda. I was staying with him and his family in Nelson again. Apart from some coaxing and persuasion when starting, the old girl ran easily and I was falling in love. Gary saw this and generously agreed to lend me the bike for my four week tour of the north island. Or however long she'd run before setting out. The bike drew nice compliments from other bikers, and exclamations like "Oh, Jesus!" and "you drove uphill on this!?!" became a natural part of the trip. One phonecall to a backpackers stands out. It went like this:
- What bike is it?
- Kawasaki 200
- You mean 250
- no, it's a 200
- There's no such thing. Kawasaki only makes 250's
- Well, it says right here, Kawasaki Z200
- Wow, it MUST be old then!
The next day, Gary taught me how to change the rear wheel, remove the tank, check for spark, and how to recognize a bad sparkplug. All the easy little maintenance tasks I might run into, and I was glad to get to know 'em.
As I set off to Picton to catch the wellington ferry, I felt a lot more confident. only twenty minutes outside of Nelson though, the bike gave out. Gary came by and fiddled with the electronics for a bit, and it sprang back to life. I thanked him and set off again, this time in a hurry. The ferry wouldn't be waiting and the ticket was not cheap and not refundable. Two minutes later the same thing happened, and as the bike rolled to a standstill I was shouting curses. I tried fidgeting with the connectors, but with no result. Gary came back, this time worried. After some looking around we found the cause. Turned out I'd forgotten to open the fuel valve. I felt very stupid. All that new mechanical knowledge and I'd let stress get to me and overlooked the simplest of things.
Back in the saddle, I held a steady pace to avoid further breakdowns. Halfway through the ride I decided to stop worrying about the departure. I was doing all I could, and worrying wasn't useful. The road there was beautiful, and enjoying it proved much more fun. I arrived withing minutes of departure and was rushed into the ferry. I felt excstatic. I'd made it, and I had a bike for the north island.
Hours later, I find myself sitting on the deck of the ferry watching and photographing the majestic sunset. Finishing the south island was the first big leg, and it's been two wonderful months. Before me lies another wonderful month on the north island, followed by three more on the west island (as the kiwis call Australia). The bike I'm now riding is the best one I've ever had. Watching it, I feel like Indiana Jones. I could outrun a Panzer on that one. In my imagination anyway.
Starting this second leg feels quite different from the first one. Is it the bike? I don't think so. I think it's because of me. I've changed. I can feel it in the way I walk. In the way I tackle problems. I see it every day in the way I interact with people.
I'm far more open and outgoing, but at the same time I've become more stubborn in defending my values. I'm not as naïve as when I started, but I still have my heart in the right place. And I believe without a doubt that the world is a good place, filled with good opportunities and good people. And that's it's a place for limitless growth, abundant in it's ressources.
Here we go. We're now leaving the Marlborough Sounds and I can feel a definite difference in the sea. I think we're in for it tonight. On each side, the mountains of the sounds rise up like the Argonath before Rauros. The moon has appeared behind the clouds, making a halo of light. It's not cold, in spite of a brisk sea breeze. Not yet anyway.
The Cook strait is opening up in front of me, and I can hear the first real waves against the hull. It's taken more than an hour to get through the sounds.
I think it'll be good for me having my "apprenticeship" on a bike like that.
It's twilight now, and it's starting to get hard to write my diary. I don't want to go inside yet, but I'll put my book down.
I feel like thanking someone for two wonderful months in New Zealand, but I don't know who. Thank you, whoever you are, you who helped make my life what it is today. I love you for it. I love you all.
Here comes the first big waves.