There have been many hard, frustrating times on our trip. One was when I was literately stuck while trying to stand up with a heavy scuba tank on my back. Another was in Malaysia, when I was throwing up in the middle of the night with extreme stomach pain. Today we had another.
Wanaka is on the South Island of New Zealand just over an hour from Queenstown. Locals say it’s how Queenstown was 20 years ago. Wanaka (rhymes with Monika) seemed like it would be the perfect place in New Zealand. It’s a small town (then again, all towns in NZ are small), with a view of the beautiful Lake Wanaka. The lake is blue. Really, really, blue. It looks like a wonderful place for a family bike ride, so we rented bikes for a leisurely ride around the lake.
After going a mile or so, I fell over into a splinter mania which got in my feet, hands, and stuck to my handlebars. In the process, I bruised the sides of my knees. In an attempt to deal with the splinters stuck in the handlebars, I put my mom’s socks on my hands. Nice, right?
After several miles of riding, we took a turn off our easy ride onto a hardcore mountain biking trail. Steep, narrow paths never equal fun times. Imagine a three foot wide trail with people coming both directions speeding around sharp turns. On one side of the treacherous path is rock wall, on the other is a drop off right into the frigid lake. That’s what it looked like.
I was in front, then Mom, then Delaney, then Dad. We were moving slowly, letting people pass us. After a while, our pack of four felt like we were missing someone: Dad. He wasn’t there. We stopped on the trail and waited for him. When he finally caught up, he was covered in blood and dirt. He had flipped over the front of his handlebars when his back tire hit a large rock. He had contusions on his shoulder, elbow, hands and shins. Luckily his backpack broke some of the fall when he landed on his collarbone. He washed the wounds with some of the fresh water in the lake. Then, we kept on riding until we found a place to escape the mountain trail.
We followed the escape path through a field and reached a fence with wooden steps leading to a paved road that would take us back to town. Finally off of the gnarly mountain track, I was starving and completely out of energy. We had sandwiches in the pack, but wanted to keep going to find some shade to eat in. Riding some more, we came to a sliver of shade. I devoured my sandwich but was still not energized. Since we were somewhat close to being back, we pushed on.
Walking our bikes across an EMPTY street, I collapsed. My bike fell on me and I bruised my knees and cut them up. Two Kiwis stopped, offering to give us “plasters” (band-aids) and a ride. But we were close to the bike rental place and kept on. Legs locked, so I wouldn’t bend my knees, I continued
walking hobbling with my bike. Mom said I looked like a zombie with a full diaper. We walked through a playground and I was just waiting for a kid to run to her mom screaming that the zombie apocalypse had come early. One hour later than expected, covered in dirt and blood, we finished the 10 MILE trail.
We rewarded ourselves with ice cream, which is unbelievably expensive in New Zealand and Australia, at at least $4 for one scoop. I poopy-diaper walked back to the motel, put on some band-aids and watched terrible 90’s fashion shows.
Who would have thought that riding a bike in New Zealand would be more dangerous than crossing Vietnam’s crazy busy streets?