Some days life is boring. Even
on an adventure on this scale we have to admit it affects
us too. Whether you're in the buggy or hauling it, the symptoms
are the same: a vegetative trance, noticing nothing, and
a little voice inside your head saying "I'm bored, I'm sooo
bored." Before long your head is filled with the word "BORED."
It doesn't always affect us all
at the same time. "Dad, I'm bored of being in the buggy"
is one of Matthew's chants that Stuart dreads. Some days
it never comes; other days it starts after just 15 minutes
on the road. Those are long days. People expect it's the
two year old that will be difficult but Cameron has never
once been bored. He sings, he sleeps, he sings, he plays,
he sings, he pretends to be lamby. He sings a lot.
Matt's drawing of a boring day..
"where we came from and where we are going"
Take that to your family therapist.
On the day we were due to cross
the 965m Lindis Pass, boredom was not something any of us
expected. We knew the ride would be slow and arduous. Cyclists
we had met who had crossed it the other way gave us a briefing,
"It was hell and we didn't have kids." We briefed the kids
accordingly, "We're going to Omarama. It's going to be hell.
Mum and Dad will be very slow and irritable. But we'll all
go wheeeeeee all the way down the other side." We've learnt
quite quickly that setting their expectations about where
we're going, how long it will take and when we will be stopping
is really important. Sometimes we forget and start cycling
only to hear "I'm bored of being in the buggy Dad. Where
are we going?" as if to remind us that pointless journeying
is of little interest to anyone, irrespective of age.
On our crossing of the Lindis Pass,
it wasn't the gradients which nearly broke us but the boredom.
This time the kids were fine; supportive and encouraging.
"It's really hard work, isn't it Dad?" shouted Matthew from
time to time. "Ee ii ad ee oo, the bone wants a dog" crooned
Cameron on a loop. But we struggled. Matthew and Stuart
counted the panniers and recited the contents over and over.
Kirstie counted the metres of ascent, one by miserable one.
We tried chatting, singing, stopping, eating but still we
were bored. It was a job that had to be done but there was
nothing there to catch our interest.
The Lindis Pass marks the start
of MacKenzie country, a vast inland outback of barren, tussock
covered mountains and equally infertile, desolate plains.Flat
to the eye, no features to grab your attention, the roads
mostly straight to reduce any visual interest further. There's
no trees, flowers or wildlife to speak of that is visible
from a bike. Even the roadkill is boring with no dead possums
or rabbits to count. The early settlers in this area were
hardy pioneers who struggled to carve a living in this harsh
countryside. Many of those in local cemetries died from
drink but this was no disgrace here. Locals recognised that
without the refuge and forgetfulness of a regular bottle
or two, the solitary life combined with cold and wretched
conditions would drive a man mad. After just one day we
understood this too but water was all we had to save us
After several hours, boredom was
relieved for a moment when Kirstie and Stuart laughed on
discovering they were both wetting their pants with excitement
at seeing a road sign for a tourist resort 25km away, the
most interesting thing to happen in a very long time.
Cameron tries to fertilise the
Half way up the pass, Stuart threw
down his bike. "Right, I'm making a cup of tea and a hot
lunch." We talked about the terrain and our response to
it and tried to figure out ways to create interest. The
answer we came up with was to look a little closer at where
we were to create interest and entertainment from what little
there was. Matthew was given a pot and collected 75 stones
which we made a castle out of. Cameron collected grass.
We made some paper aeroplanes and flew them at the shadows
of clouds on the mountains. We counted the lorries. The
cars. The campervans. Matthew painted his face as Shrek
with green sun factor 50 and we made up songs from the movie.
And then British cyclists Jamie and Mark pulled up with
their trailers. Time for a trailer party. Their company
lifted us further out of the boredom, and the effect lasted
to the top of the Pass and for the ensuing exhilaration
We finally made it. Boredom is
banished... for a while
But at the bottom, another 25km
of featureless terrain stood before us and civilisation.
Matthew called a family meeting. "I'm bored of being in
the buggy Dad." We took shelter from the rain for a snack
and a vote on how to handle the situation. Matthew wanted
to go back up the hill. Cameron wanted to go back to Cromwell.
Kirstie wanted to put a tent up on the scrubland. Stuart
wanted a shower. Boring stalemate. Deadlock. We played the
only Christmas card we'll be using this year, "If we don't
carry on, we'll never get to Timaru for Christmas." The
boys were easily persuaded. We don't know what we'll do
in situations like this after Christmas.
Stuart finds a sign that expresses