My eyes flicker open wearingly at the sound of a soft tapping on the canvas walls of my little green tent. It is dim inside, meaning it is either still nighttime or that my first day of riding on the South Island will be beneath rainclouds and on shiny wet roads. It appears to be the latter. By this point – roughly six weeks into my bike-tour of New Zealand – I am more than used to grey days and rain, but I had optimistically hoped that my passage to the South Island would see a turn in the weather.
The morning unfolds as it always does, in this exact order: I lie awake in the warmth of my sleeping bag for approximately 37 seconds until my body finds the courage to venture into the cold. I take off my thermals and pull on my cycling kit – which is often a little damp from the cold of the tent – at lightning speed, before stuffing the majority of my belongings into my pannier bags in a very precise order that cannot be changed or there won’t be enough room for even that last pair of socks – it is an order I have perfected over the last two months. I then remove everything from my tent, and once the entire contents of my home are spread out on the wet glass, I un-pitch and pack my equally damp tent along with the remainder of my belongings. I wheel my bike over to the picnic tables and realise I have packed my oats in the very bottom of my pannier bag. Once I have retrieved them, I make myself overcooked porridge with a bruised banana while checking my map and planning my route for the day. My mornings are peaceful and perfectly imperfect; I wake up with black coffee, a morning chill and the thought of the views, hills and roads that await me.
It is a morning like every morning has been for the last couple of months, except every morning is different really when home is somewhere new every day. When the view from your bedroom window changes from wild oceans to lush green hills to the blank side-view of an RV parked next to you. My view this morning is relatively bleak; an average caravan park in the middle of an average town. But there is something about this morning… there is a spark in my eyes and a fire in my legs.
“Welcome to the South Island”, the sky says to me as the sun burns through the clouds and I take my first pedal strokes in this new and unknown land. “We have something for you”, she whispers.