We had arrived in Omarama the night before, at sunset, and we went to a pub to discuss our situation. Things were not looking good, like as in not promising, like as in “Are we going to be able to pull this thing off?” We had spent a majority of our time over the past couple days pushing bikes. Things are that steep here in New Zealand, roads were built on tracks that were built on paths that followed the fastest/shortest line from one place to the next. This is what we had asked for, we wanted something new. It wasn’t that we weren’t making progress, it was that we weren’t making it fast enough. We had two days to make it up over a pass that started from the crotch of a canyon buried in the recesses of a mountain range that none of us knew anything about except that it was roadless, trailless, and previously unexplored by bicycle. So the previous night we had agreed to reroute, to navigate back to Dunedin, to save the ride by changing the ride. Were we happy about? Of course not, but with thousands of dollars in plane tickets on the line and host of responsibilities back home we couldn’t afford to take any extra time, so we finished our drinks and hit the sack.
Sleep is such a wonderfully restorative son of a bitch. The next day all of our divergent plans were off the table, there was a collective agreement, no convincing was needed, we would push forward. Perhaps we communicated this in the night with a signal tapped into by the little pea-sized lizard part of our brain where the shared affinity for the idea of finishing this ride lived. ESP man, vibes, am I right? We were heading off into the unknown, propelled by an unsinkable willingness, the can-do attitude of the naive, and my my it was a beautiful morning. We discovered a store that sold NOS Zinka and wonderful sun hats, we had slept in the summer, out of the snow, we were going to do this, we were going to finish this thing out!
The day went more or less like this: road, gravel road, two track, single track, livestock track, no track, river crossing, no track, river crossing, no track, no track, no track… we rode all day, deep into the recesses of the Southern Alps. And these babies came out of nowhere, yeah you look on the map, you know they are coming, but still, they just appear all of a sudden. Like wisdom teeth or middle school erections, pop, bam, mountains. Once again, the sun was setting as we finally arrived at a hut. If we were going to link up with our raft out, the next day would be our biggest day yet. A light rain had been predicted and we fell to sleep with the setting of the sun.