• Tommy Hyland

Following the white line

Starting from Dunedin and making my way to Christchurch I have spent 90% of my time riding on the side of state highway 1 staring at the white line marking the edge of the road as it stretches almost endlessly in front of me. This section has been full of deep thinking, head down riding and hidden treasures.

Day 22 - Day 24: Dunedin rest time It is hard to put into words the feeling of waking up and not spending your whole morning preparing to hop on your bike which you know will be your sole activity of the day. On the one hand it was relieving and liberating to enjoy 8am sleep ins, long relaxed stretching sessions, morning showers and no time limit on breakfast. These mornings accompanied by days relaxing in the library reading, long conversations and 'aimless' walks restored a lot of the mental and physical energy I had not realised that I had lost. But there was another side of this rest time that I wasn't expecting; I missed my bike. I missed the single minded focus of morning yoga sessions preparing myself in every way for a long day on the saddle, I missed the physical strain on my body and the mental games needed to push though, I missed  and in a way I missed the crazy routine that I have created amongst all the chaos on the road. Which led to two biking adventures on my final day in Dunedin after barely wanting to look at Jolene (My bike) when I had first arrived. My 2 favourite parts of this time were all the amazing people I connected with and the renewed gratitude and love I felt for everything involved with my ride.

Day 25: Oamaru Back to the routine with a 7am wake up, quick breakfast, re assembling the panniers and packing my bags to leave at 9am after saying goodbye to old and new friends. Weaving my way through some back streets to get to the back country roads I would be taking for the first hours of the day as it is illegal to ride a bike on this section of State Highway 1 going through the Leith Valley. With renewed strength both mental and physical from my time resting the 800m climb of elevation through intense fog felt amazing and the downhill descent on a dirt road was one of the best so far. After a few hours I was in Moeraki having lunch while exploring the strange yet incredible circular boulders that litter the beach and appeared even more alien-like today with all the fog surrounding them. Fast forward 4 hours; I was clean, warm and full of rice in an awesome hostel on the coast at Oamaru with some really cool travellers.

Day 26: Timaru Slotting back into the routine seamlessly I started my ride around 10am after a morning of stretches, meditating and goodbyes to some new friends. The flat, straight roads of the East Coast are amazing for head down riding which after so much intensive, engaging riding all down the west coast and in the south was a nice change. However one hour into my first full day on these roads I felt an unfamiliar dragging sensation from the back of my bike, thinking a rope or something may have got tangled in the back wheel I pull over to check but the problem was obvious with one glance backwards. Almost 4 weeks of remarkable luck had come to an end and I had my first flat tyre of the trip. Surprisingly I was happy to have this small challenge as I knew it was all part of the journey but little did I know it would be a highlight of my whole trip. To make a beautiful story short; my pump broke while fixing the tyre so I unpacked all my gear, unclipped the back tyre and stuck out my thumb to hitchhike to the nearest petrol station 20km away. Picked up by an amazing man and his daughter who had a trailer and we're able to put my whole bike on the back to drive back to Oamaru so I could fix my tyre. After some amazing conversations and sharing my journey with them they proceeded to buy my lunch, a warm drink, help me fix my tyre and drive me the 20km back to my bike in the opposite direction they were heading as a remarkable act of kindness to a complete stranger. This carried me through the next 4 hours with a smile never fading from my face and will continue to inspire me for the rest of this trip. I was still reflecting on how all of this came from a flat tyre as I arrived at my home for the night in Timaru

Day 27: Mt Somers An interesting day of riding still carrying the burst of positivity from the day before but with a slight headwind on this straight road I knew there would be no reprieve from until I finished 88km later. As every day on this trip does the seconds turn in to hours and the crawling metres turn into rolling kilometres with the only determining factor of how my day goes being my perspective on each moment. So with a smile and a slight lack of food I pushed through for 6 hours to end my day spending time by the fire with one of my favourite people in the world and any moments that could be perceived as tough fade away into the beauty I choose to remember during that day. 

Day 28: Christchurch My second attempt at a shortcut of the trip to stay off the main road did not go aswell as the first time. 3 hours of riding along a thick gravel road where I could barely take my eyes off the road as the only track my tyres could ride without skidding out was the indented line of a few vehicles that had driven before me then as it looked like the road was opening up I came to a flooded ford where I pushed my bike through the close to knee deep water of the river. After the river crossing I started to get back into my rhythm and an hour out of the city where I knew the beautiful feeling of smooth concrete under my tyres was waiting, which I had taken for granted so much of this trip, a screw in my bag supports snapped which I saw as a good sign to stop for lunch. After a small repair job and some food I made my way smoothly into the city of Christchurch for the strange experience of highways and traffic lights replacing fence lines and the faces of sheep.