Sunday, March 29, 2009

House Arrest

What do you do next, if you have had the book thrown at you in hospital, with no end result? If you have been told that, if it happens again, you should go to the nearest hospital pretty damn quick? In other words, you should not go to any remote areas. And you should probably rest.

You should probably not do what we had planned, which is to cycle the 150 kms Central Otago Rail Trail in 3 sections. For each section, Gay or myself would drive the car, with one bike, to one end of the section and cycle back to where the other one had started. We would cross in the middle, and cyclist number two would then bring hir bike back, with the car, to the start point.
Gay pointed out that, as I am under medical “house arrest”, it is not advisable for me to go off on my own cycling in remote countryside for 5 hours at a time, in an area where cell phones frequently do not work. My jailer and I would have to cycle together.

So having spent the few days since Tuesday's trauma walking cautiously around Christchurch, we drove to Ranfurly on Friday. Quite a long drive, but we saw little of the threatened rain. Weather forecasting is just as much of an inexact science in New Zealand as it is in the rest of the world, but I have never been to another place where the forecast is spread out, in dribs and drabs, over the full hour of the evening news. The first teaser comes before the news headlines, then the forecaster pops up a couple of times during the program to talk interminably and boringly about what has happened, weather-wise, in the country during the day (but never comparing this with what was often a completely inaccurate forecast given the previous evening. Near the very end of the program, the forecaster is droning on again, giving extremely brief next-day forecasts for the various regions, then wandering off to talk about Australia, then the Pacific Islands, before returning, when you are well hypnotised, asleep or even brain-dead, to give a snapshot of the following few days in New Zealand. The most boring and time-wasting weather forecasts I have ever seen. I used to be involved in weather forecasting myself, in a small way, and I even have an award from the Director General of the Meteorological Office. If this lot have any awards, they should send them back immediately. Rant, rant.

But back to Ranfurly. On Saturday morning we cycled on the Rail Trail to Hyde, 32 kms of spectacular scenery, mostly downhill. A quick nibble and coffee there and we made the return journey. However, just before we got to Hyde, the very strong westerly wind arrived, the wind which had been forecast for the south coast. This was directly against us for the whole return trip, which was like cycling vertically up a wall. It took us half as long again, and them some, as the trip out. I didn't know house arrest could be so arduous. I was, as Terry Wogan would say, absolutely banjaxed.

This morning we were going to drive to Hyde and cycle to Middlemarch, which is at one end of the trail – the rail line is still in use from Middlemarch to Dunedin. The westerly wind was still with us, although not quite as strong, so we wisely decided to do the hard bit first. We drove to Middlemarch, cycled uphill and against the wind to Hyde, which was very hard work. Then, again after refreshments, we turned round and whizzed along with the wind behind us. Splendid.
The second round trip was 54 kms, so for the two days we have done 118 kms. The whole Rail Trail is 152 kms, which most people do in 3 days, although many take 6 days, with their bags being moved on for them, refreshments provided along the way. So our way is not quite taking it easy, which I think is what I am supposed to be doing at the moment. I suppose we could say that, the CT scan and everything else not having found a medical culprit, I am adding some stress tests. So far, everything seems to be in working order.

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