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I’ve dropped Fred, my bike, again.

I had just arrived in Invercargill from a chilly Stewart Island and wanted to head north as soon as possible where it would be warmer. The weather did not look good. The clouds were extremely low and menacing, with a very strong northerly wind, gusting six.

I put on all my biking gear and had anothers look outside.

I could see the wall of rain approaching.

‘Oh shit’.

I felt a strong desire to wait a while and let it blow by but it was cold now and forecast to get colder.

The longer I waited the worse it would get so I rode off into a heavy squall.

Within ten minutes I felt completely soaked and from then on the weather seriously deteriorated. From gusty showers it turned into very heavy rain. My feet were already squelching about in my boots.

The real downer of biking in heavy rain is the little lake that builds up between your legs.

Eventually, the dam bursts and a flood of cold seeps through into your crotch. It’s a horrible sensation as you can feel the water coming and know exactly what’ll happen next. It takes a few agonising minutes for the icy water to hit your balls and no amount of writhing about will stop it.

What was making it much scarier was the strength of the wind. Every so often a big gust would blow me a metre or so off my line so I had to crouch down and lean heavily into the wind to counteract the force. I tried various different speeds and found that a higher velocity actually makes the bike more stable because of the increased gyroscopic effect of the wheels.

I was following Route 1 north and could see a blue sky area to my left following the turn to Route 90. This looked like a good escape plan.

I stopped by the side of the road and took out my map to see where it went. Although it looked promising it added another 100km to my route and went into high country so, since I was already wet, I decided to stick with Route 1.

I needed two hands to put the map back in my tank bag; one to open the Velcro and the other to slide the map in. Just I was pushing it a huge gust hit me.

I steadied the bike with my left foot but immediately felt that familiar feeling. I couldn’t hold him.

So, as usual, I rolled off my bike as he toppled over.

I hadn’t realised I had stopped on such a steep embankment, even though it was only three of four metres above the surrounding fields. While my bike simply fell over and stopped I didn’t.

I rolled down the bank and clutched at clumps of grass trying to stop myself but I couldn’t get a decent hold.

‘At least ill stop soon’ I thought and relaxed a little.

That’s when I rolled into the ditch.

My head went under the water and I automatically put my hand out to stop it going under any further. I ended up lying full length in the ditch and, embarrassed as usual, leapt up to see who had been watching.

No one.

I was soaked and standing in a smelly ditch in the middle of no where. Weeds were dangling off my visor and it was still pissing with rain.

It was time to get out.

But I couldn’t.

I wasn’t able to lift a leg high enough with my motocross boots on. I tried to pull myself out using clumps of grass but they just came away in my hands.
After a few other attempts I finally managed to get a leg over the edge by bracing one leg on the opposite wall of the ditch and inching myself up a bit at a time.

Fred’s motor was still ticking over even though he was lying down hill. I turned him off and instantly realised I’d never be able to pick him up on my own. On such a steep slope and a big gust could put us both in the ditch again.

I decided to flag a car down to get some help.

The first car just sped past but the second stopped.

Two women got out.

I thanked them for stopping and explained I’d dropped my bike and needed help to pick it up but it was very heavy. I didn’t want them to hurt themselves.

One turned to the other having seen my bike lying on his side.

“What we need is a man’, she said.

‘There’s never one about when you need one’, added her friend.

Just at that instant a pick up loaded with split logs stopped and the driver came over.

‘Hi’, I said.

‘Please can you help me pick up my bike?’.

Alan was huge and clearly used to carrying a sheep under each arm.
We heaved him upright and luckily he started easily.

I thanked them all profusely and gave them my web address so they could read this page. I’m sorry it took so long, but thank you again.

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