Intrepid Bike Ride Time.

Exploring Day. 
Mask schnorkel, togs, towel and a change of clothes in my kit, And off.

I headed out to Nausori on what has become my favourite stretch to ride, from Tamavua, through the hills. 

When I set out it was fine and hot in Suva, with
a freshening breeze that was most pleasant on the bike.  Passing Colo i
Suva in the hills, I ran into rain and noticeably cooler air.  The wind
built up even more as I came down to the coast.  At one stage the rain was very heavy and I was quickly soaked.  I came upon a large bus shelter and rode straight into it to get out of the rain.  At that very moment a bus stopped on the opposite side of the road and someone with a clipboard alighted.  A bus inspector I (rightly) guessed.  He came over to the shelter to await the bus returning the other way.  He made no comment about me being parked in the shelter but asked me where I was from, admired the bike, and asked the inevitable question "how much did it cost?" We spoke of Fiji, and what was wrong with it, and what I thought was right with it, until the bus he was awaiting arrived.  The rain had stopped, so I donned helmet and gloves and followed it down the hill.  It took me a while to catch up with it.  The speed limit for buses and all heavy traffic is 60 kph, even in an 80 zone, as I understand it.  When I finaly caught up, this bus was doing 110 on the good stretches.  With an inspector on board. 

I crossed the river, turned left through Nausori township, and rode
on up the wild East coast as far as I dared. Just  past Korovou (I think) I turned right off the Kings Road, out onto the road up the Sawakasa Promontory.  I knew this was a dead end road.  None of the names of the villages I passed  seemed to match any on my map, except Londoni, which I passed quite early on.  I have no idea exactly how far along the road I got, because I forgot my GPS.  Did not reach the very end
of the road though, as it became pretty bloody hairy.  I reached a place with a concrete wharf, where i stopped for a spell and spoke to a young bearded Fijian who either was mute, or had no English at all.  Though he seemed to understand most of what I was saying, he responded to my questions only with nods and gestures. 

It seems that the fishing is very good from that wharf, though he was not fishing himself at the time, just sitting under a shelter by the store staring out to sea, until I arrived.  It was pissing down again at the time – the reason I stopped, actually, other than wanting to take look at the wharf.  Once the rain stopped I headed out onto the road again, but that was the point I determined it to be expedient to turn back.  It was getting on in the afternoon, and the road was not all that salubrious.  In some places it could hardly be called a road at all, more a series of  craters that I had to skirt on the rims, like the moonrover.  One half kilometer stretch of the road had been newly and thickly laid with gravel – which in some ways was even worse.  I suffered a couple of close calls with shingletracking. That was the nervy bit.

The bike is not really fit for riding the
shingle/pothole combination, or for deep shingle. Having
traction trouble and steering wobbles even at 30K is quite alarming.  It is slow going on even reasonable unsealed roads without the right bike and tyres. My old Yammy DT250 would have been perfect for these back roads. 

So.  Not sure if I am keen on making the Lautoka trip via Kings Road after
all. I explored a little way up the old Kings Road from the roundabout near Korovou, and was not sure if it would be a good idea to go too far.  Especially after what I had seen up the side road.  I backtracked then and turned up the newly made alternative route which is still under construction.  Not sure about that either, or how far it goes before it rejoins the old Kings road.  I recalled the road from Lautoka to Buabua, which I did in a rental car.  If any of the northern route is as bad as that I don’t think I would make it on my bike without having a spill.   Still, I had to check it out. 

This trip I came back the same way I went.   The Tamavua to Nausori road is a little beaut to ride, both ways. The main Nausori-Suva road is Rubbish. 

Tomorrow; Sigatoka (if the weather improves). 

As I rode today, I
was repeatedly cold and soaked and then dried out and warm again.  My
flourescent green bula shirt is ideal for making me visible, but no
protection against the weather, Nor would it be any protection in a fall for that matter. 
I try not to think about that.  My armoured jacket is just too hot for most days here.  I settle for gloves and shoes to protect my
extremities, and trust in my vigilance and reflexes.

I did not get a swim at all today because by the time I reached a beach with access, where I could keep an eye on the bike, the wind was a gale, the sea rough and muddy, and rain squalls were becoming more frequent.  Never mind.  I got wet anyway at least.

I passed a sign today that said "Slow Police".  No punctuation.  I would have liked to photograph it if I could.  The irony of that was not lost on me…

Shortly after,  I came upon a checkpoint, and a cheerful looking copper waved me in to the side of the road. 

"Good afternoon and Happy Christmas" he said.

I returned the greeting. " Breath test, or do you want my licence and registration? " I asked. 

"No,  you are alright" He said cheerfully, "I just want to look at your bike. I have one like this, but older. A Suzuki.  It doesn’t go." 

I thought he was going to ask me about getting spare parts for his bike. Many people do, and I put them on to Motomart in Lower Hutt.  But no.  The only other question he had was the same one everyone asks. "How much did you pay for it?"

We chatted for a bit and he let me go with a friendly wave, which I returned.  It pays to be friendly with policemen. 

Besides, I can spare a moment for anyone who admires my bike.

On the way home, something got into my helmet.  I felt it crawl over my cheek and I opened my visor to brush it out. A little later I noticed a slight stinging sensation on my upper lip,  Later this evening I developed a hard lump growing to some considerable size under my left nostril.  It still doesn’t hurt.  I had an alarming thought. What if it was not a sting, but an ovipositor?


About Uisce úr

Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.
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