We packed early to try and beat the winds, but by 7 AM, the wind was back full force. Our most welcoming hosts in Matakohe (AKA Pooh Corner on WarmShowers.org.) volunteered to drive us to Ruawai, 20 km down the road. As that section would be directly into the 30 mph howling winds, I gladly accepted.

Rounding a bend in the road, just blocks from our drop off, we fit strong headwinds, headwinds that nearly blew me off my bike! Headwinds that hit us so hard, we both had to drop into our lowest gears just to move forward. Wind now sprinkled with rain.

I lowered my shoulders and headed into that and pedaled on. There was nothing to do but “Cowboy Up”. Headwinds made every mile seem like five.

I started thinking about the headwinds we all have. Odd thing is that no one escapes the headwinds life throws at us, yet they are different to all people.  For some, headwinds are physical, perhaps cancer or arthritis. For others, they are financial, like the bills that seem to keep us down. Headwinds are obstacles that seem to constantly get in the way of happiness.

I wondered that if we didn’t  have headwinds (obstacles), would we be happier?

I remembered a canyoneering trip in southern Arizona where our group missed a canyon exit and found ourselves forced to complete a 13 mile descent we were not prepared for. We stumbled down a river in the growing darkness. Exhausted, we climbed out of a canyon and walked through the desert, all night long, finally arriving back at camp a
t 5 in the morning.  That trip was one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done, but I look back at the experience with a great deal of fondness. Knowing that I overcame so great an obstacle fills me with great joy and pride.

Kilometer after kilometer, the wind increased and our stamina decreased.  We had to stop and rest about every mile. At times I was panting so hard, my mouth was open and my tongue hung to one side. I must have looked like a cartoon character, and the thought made me start laughing. I tried to ride in front of Ray to give him a wind brake but could not keep up the pace. We stopped alongside the road and dropped our bikes in the grass. I lay down in the “verg” (ditch), as it is called here, and fell asleep alongside the road, just a foot or two from the cars screaming past. Ray stayed up to make sure people didn’t stop, thinking I had crashed. The wind speed increased another 10 mph.

It took us all morning to make the next town, Dargaville. Stopping at a restaurant, it was all either one of us could do to simply step inside.  I was so proud of him, of myself, of us.  Here we were, unsupported, on our bikes in the middle of an incredibly beautiful place, riding. Just riding. Even if we only made 42 Kilometers, we still made it.

Feeling better after food and rest, we toured Dargaville. Below is a shot of a veggie stand selling the native sweet potato, Kumara.


So headwinds, like other obstacles, can be great for the spirit. It was a most difficult day, but a great one.

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