Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Taking the Long Way Home

I didn’t think I could do this week justice by cramming it in with my previous post. There are times in life where I distinctly remember having this amazing “feel good” vibe coursing through my veins, when I was just stoked on nothing in particular… Just the fact that things were pretty bloody awesome in general. Last week was party to a few of those occasions. It’s been lovely to settle back into a schedule, ride my bike, do my job and feel at one with the universe again (so to speak).

I’ve been in my new job for nearly a month now, and living a mere 4km away from the office in the mountain biking capital of NZ, it just didn’t make sense to me starting the van every day and driving into work. I finally got my act together enough to do my first commute on Wednesday, and haven’t looked back since then. I remember sifting out the back gate at 8am on a crisp, clear, frosty morning and disappearing into the forest on my way to work. As the week wore on, I found different routes to make my way into town, eventually settling on the course that took me through the forest, under the bridge and along the trails through sulphur point, delivering me straight into the centre of town… No roads or tarseal required. Perfect!!!

The other thing I discovered about riding to work each day was that it was the most amazing way to motivate myself to train after work… Once you ride into work in the morning, the fact that you are committed to riding home (unless you want to sleep at the office) means that once you kit up, are on the bike and just happen to be going through the forest anyway, you may as well just stick around in the forest and play for a while! Brilliant!!! So my week consisted of leisurely rides to work, playtime before bed and some excellent productivity in between… It has now been a week since I started my car, and I don’t think I could possibly feel any better for it!

As I was gloating about my amazing ride to work on Friday (I don’t think all my workmates fully appreciate my innate love of the bike), one of my colleagues tipped me off that there was a longer path I could take to and from work that would take me through the sulphur fields and along the lake and was apparently quite spectacular. Not one to shy away from any adventure or some exploration, I followed her loose directions on my way home and found myself blasting home along the waterfront, with the stellar blue sky reflecting off the lake, past the floating wetlands and through the sulphur fields. It was a part of Rotorua I hadn’t yet seen and it was a stunning ride. I was surprised by just how many thermal areas were so loosely guarded, but it was refreshing to be able to cruise along and check it out without fences and signs impeding your enjoyment of the scenery. Instead of heading straight home, I continued along the river which borders Scion, then up around to the corner of the TePuia carpark, where I knew Red and the crew had been building a new trail that linked up to the Waipa entrance to the forest. I located the trail head and descended off the road into a surprisingly serene canyon, where the punga-lined trail wound its way along the edge of the river and popped out near Waipa Mill carpark. It was evident that the trail wasn’t quite finished yet, as I had to scramble across a makeshift bridge created by a pipe and some wire roping with my bike. From there I disappeared into the forest and emerged from exit trail in the dark a couple of hours later with a huge grin on my face… What an amazing way to end the week!

Saturday’s weather was forecast to turn nasty in the afternoon, so I made a point of getting out nice an early in the morning for a blat around the forest before jumping on the commuter bike and making my way out to join the More FM team and cook up some sausages to raise money for charity. It was whilst I was grilling a sanger or two that the rain set in, and it meant that I was in for a rather wet ride home, but it actually didn’t bother me all that much. On my way back, I stopped by the supermarket, chained the Yak up outside (hoping it would still be there when I returned) and set about doing my weekly shopping before cramming it into my backpack and making my way home in the rain. As I threw my backpack over my shoulder, I couldn’t help noticing the chaos people create in the rain… Everything seems to need to be done in a rush… Must rush the shopping, must rush to the car so I don’t get wet… I didn’t feel rushed or stressed at all… I just jumped on my bike and set off into the rainy afternoon to go and have a warm bath and sit in front of the fire. It’s amazing how relaxed I have felt this week, and I strongly believe I owe that to my morning and afternoon bike rides… There is seriously a lot to be said for going out for a nice relaxing ride… It switches me on in the morning, and then gives me time to process and lock away the day’s happenings at the conclusion of my afternoon… Not to mention the amount of diesel I have likely saved!
Sunday’s weather left a lot to be desired, and was better spent chopping wood, baking bread, and remodelling my bike room. When I was riding in the forest on Saturday morning, I can across a couple of top blokes in the forest who I got talking with. After justifying my Australian accent by telling this guy I live on the edge of the forest and race my bike for New Zealand, it came out that I had recently come third at 24 Hour Solo World Champs. He asked me if that’s what I did for a job. I said to him “nah, there’s no money in it… I work at a radio station”… It occurred to me later that it must have seemed to this guy like I was living in some magical fantasy land… I live on the edge of the forest with the most amazing trails laid out at my feet, travel all over the world racing my bike, and, just casually, spend my weekdays working at a radio station to top it all off… He wouldn’t have been far from the truth… It’s pretty amazing. It’s so easy to take the simple and good things in life for granted and this week provided a poignant reminder of just how awesome life can be if you just add a touch of adventure, a positive attitude and, of course, a bike…

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