I broke off a small piece of the OSM, rolled it into a small sheep-shit sized ball, and simultaneously threw it into the back of my mouth along with a large swig of water, careful that the OSM did not touch cheek nor tooth. I shouldn’t have been so reckless with my water, but I was toenail biting hungry. Yesterday morning I had loaded up with 5 litres of water but I was now down to my last 300mls and it was baking hot. No useful cloud cover, no wind. Just a dusty empty road in the middle of fucking nowhere. Piece by tragic piece, the entire OSM had now been swallowed. I looked at my last 300mls, how long would it have to last? I rummaged through my backpack for painkillers. One last quick swig and the sheep-poo-OSM was followed by two ibuprofen. F&*^% my teeth hurt!
My experimental “muesli-bar mountain-bike ride” was backfiring spectacularly. How was I to know that my teeth were allergic, for lack of other explanation, to OSMs? The first few bars were okay, but by the time I was two days cycle from the nearest shop it was too late to realise that my only source of energy, the glossy brown bar, would shoot white-hot pains up my teeth and into my head. It was a pain like no other. From the first small contact, my teeth would fall like dominos, one after the other, set fire to with a burning pain that would have my whole face in waves of agony. Until the point, I couldn’t bare it any longer and have to stop my bike to pop yet more ibuprofen. It didn’t help, but at least it felt like I was doing something. Luckily I had packed the painkiller, but like my water, I was now running dangerously low
All misadventures begin with a brilliant idea. Pack light I exclaimed! I could leave my touring bike at home and take my full suspension MTB instead! All unnecessary touring palaver could be eliminated. No stuffing around with panniers or cookers, no cleaning plates, cups or forks, no boiling water, just beautifully packed muesli bars in their shiny metallic packaging. I imagined other campers’ envious faces as I’d rock up, camp up and piss off, all in the time it took them to squat in a pack around a primus burner poking their pink plastic forks at muddy coloured porridge. I strapped my sleeping bag and tent to my handlebars, threw a few OSM in my pack along with one set of thermals and a raincoat and I was set to go. Whoop! Whoop!
But right then, as I swallowed the last OSM I hope ever to eat, I would have murdered those campers for their muddy coloured porridge, but instead, I prayed for tank water at the closed rural school of Tuturumuri 20km of midday gravel slog away. I was the veritable hobo, energy sapped by the sun, dishevelled and sweaty, hungrily pushing my bike from shade tree to shade tree, taking in the air conditioning underneath, all the while cursing the sparse wispy mistakes for clouds for not getting their miserable arses up and in front of the sun.
Fortunately, there was tank water at Tuturumuri School. I lapped at the water like an eager puppy drinking a litre on the spot, but I couldn’t face another muesli bar. The road changed from gravel to tarmac and the final long slow haul to Martinborough began. With a body fuelled only on water, all pretence of the athletic cyclist evaporated with the clouds and I trudged listlessly up even the slightest rise. I formulated a shopping list in my head: whisky, peanut MnMs, potato chips, a steak salad and a bar of soap. To be consumed in that order.
Once back in the civilised world of convenience shops, I gave the rest of my OSM bars to my dead ancestors in the Featherston cemetery. One day a bedraggled vagrant walking the length of the country will discover them perfectly preserved in their shiny foil packages. They might think they have discovered some life-saving nectar, but since it was just such a person that I got the brilliant idea for my muesli-bar mountain-bike tour in the first place, I hope their fucking teeth hurt! It will be their curse for stealing food from the dead!
Cycling Route Information: 300km give or take, 1/2 gravel 4WD tracks. I took me 5 days, but 6 would be better if you want to get the most out of Cape Palliser.
Route: Wellington-Eastbourne-Pencarrow Head-Baring Head-Corner Creek via Wild Coast Cycleway-Pirinoa-The Pinnacles-around Cape Palliser via Ngapotiki Block Station-White Rock-Martinborough-Lower Hutt via Rimutaki Incline cycleway-Paekakariki via Haywards Rd-Paraparaumu.
Opinion: Despite the above ‘exaggerated’ nutritional problems for a couple days, this trip was one of the most scenic and beautiful cycles I’ve done in NZ. It does pay to pack light as lots of sand and large gravel to negotiate in parts around the three capes. I struck lucky with the weather – I’m sure they don’t call it the ‘wild coast’ for nothing. If you have any questions about this ride, please don’t hesitate to contact through the comments forum.