When I was reading up on the New Zealand bike trip, I must admit that the Backroads description of the tour did not shy away from the possibility of rain. When I arrived in Christchurch and shared my plans to bike the west coast with my taxi driver, he said, “Ahhh. Biking the ‘wet’ coast!” Apparently there is a reason for all of this foreshadowing: it rains on the west side of the South Island an awful lot. How much? About 190 inches a year. The Southern Alps that stretch down the South Island are the only mountain range between Australia and South America. As wind travels from west to east, it picks up a lot of moisture and dumps it on a relatively narrow patch of land located precisely on top of my bike route. So when asking the question, “Why does God insist on dumping rain on me?”, the answer is not that he is working in any mysterious way. It’s geology and climate patterns — he’s got a plan and he’s executing on it!
So, I suppose it should not have been a surprise when I mounted my trusty two-wheeled steed that it would start to rain in the morning. I suppose it should not have been a total surprise that it would rain for about 95% of my 55 mile ride. This was unfortunate as the ride itself was excellent. Perhaps because of the rain, I rode with fury and made (for me) fantastic time. I left at a bit past nine AM, had lunch at a salmon farm (which curiously sells a lot of stuff with salmon in it), and arrived at my destination by 1:30 PM. In addition to being very, very wet, most of the ride was very, very chilly — about 50 to 55 F.
So why is it that people pay good money to ride their bikes in a cold, driving rain? It’s one thing if it’s a freak accident of weather nature, but it’s something else if it’s completely predictable. In my case, the latter applies. My reasons for this apparent lack of judgement are as follows:
1) To see the coastal scenery created by this kind of brutal weather
2) To have the momentary burst of euphoria when arriving at destination and watching the sun start to come out
3) To be able to access a part of this remote country that itself is so remote that it still contains a rainforest with 1,000 year old trees (not an exaggeration)
4) To see the PhD who runs the wilderness lodge where we are staying (Lake Moeraki) feed very large eels
5) To gain an entirely new appreciation for the beauty of sunlight