Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Seven Hills. One Bad Descent. Tour Over.

The bicycling part of today's tour

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The Ambulance part of today's tour

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This entry was going to begin: After 90km, 7 hard hills, 7 bottles of water, two bottles of juice, a big sandwich, two peanut slabs and a chocolate afghan, I finally made it to a bed in Tokomaru Bay.

Instead, it begins: After 85km, 7 hard hills, 7 bottles of water, two bottles of juice, a big sandwich, two peanut slabs and a chocolate afghan, a broken wrist and a 100km ambulance ride, I finally made it to a bed in Gisborne hospital.

So, I finally made it to Gisborne--a little earlier than intended

First, the exciting part--if you consider falling down exciting. I'd just left Te Puia Springs, which is quite high up, and was heading down to Tokomaru Bay, where I planned to spend the night. It is downhill all the way. about 5km outside of Te Puia, I hit a bit of a bump where some recent chip seal started and my handlebar stem snapped off. The front wheel flipped sideways and I was thrown off while traveling about 35kph.

After skidding to a stop on the new, rough, chip seal, I was pretty well abraded on my right arm an shoulder. Then I noticed that my left wrist was not at a natural angle and I couldn't really move it. Fortunately, there was no traffic. About 30 seconds later, truck coming uphill stopped and helped me get the bike and trailer out of the road and very shortly thereafter, another pickup also stopped to help. The second fellow gave me a lift back up to Te Puia Springs, where they have a small community hospital. The first man loaded the bike and trailer on his truck and brought it up to the hospital.

It was around 5:30pm and the small hospital at Te Puia had only a nurse on duty, but she called in the doctor who was just next door. In about half an hour, they had given me a bit of morphine, put me on a saline drip, as they assumed I might be a bit dehydrated, cleaned and dressed my road rash, and splinted my arm. By then the local ambulance had arrived to transport me to the hospital at Gisborne, as it was obvious that I would need an orthopedist.

I think the paperwork took about as long as the actual medical work, but since I was an unknown patient, they seemed to be quite careful. They did a medical history and asked lots of questions about my current state, and, of course, they had to do the ACC paperwork, since it was an accident.

The trip to Gisborne Hospital took about an hour and a half, as it was about 100km from Te Puia Springs. I was admitted to the Gisborne Hospital ER, where I was the only patient. More paperwork, more medication, x-rays and the ER doctor anesthetized my arm, straightened out the wrist and put it in a cast. After a quick sandwich, since I wouldn't be able to eat after midnight, they put me back onto a saline drip and I was off to a room.

Comparatively, the rest of the ride was hardly eventful, just hard work. It was the longest day of my tour, unfortunately also the last, and had the most hills. After a stop in Te Araroa to fill up my water bottles, I tackled the three hills to Tikitiki. It was only 30km, but they were definitely as rated "hard". The Pedaller's Paradise guide accurately describes the section between Te Araroa and Tikitiki as "too many hills in too few kilometers".

I arrived in Tikitiki at about noon. The camp there was so rudimentary that it didn't even have a kitchen. It was actually more of a POP and even had an NZMCA sign. For a small village, with a well-known church, which I visited agin, and an RSA, it didn't even have a store. It had a small takeaway within the RSA, so I bought a sandwich and a drink, refilled my water bottles and headed off towards Ruatoruia, a much larger town.

After a couple of more hard hills and 20km, I found that Ruatoria had stores, the Ngati Pouru information center, and even a cafe, but no place to stay. I looked into the info center, where they had a display of very good local carvings in wood, bone and pounamu, and a fellow getting a traditional tattoo on his arm from the local Maori tattooist, a woman with a full moko, even the lips.

Since there was no place to stay at Ruatoria, I headed off towards TePuia Springs, where one of my guides said the hotel had a small camping area. It was uphill all the way including one more "hard" hill before the last hill into the town. I'm really glad that the stem didn't break as I was descending the last hard hill. As I neared the bottom, I looked in my rear-view mirror and ther was a fully loaded double lorry log truck right on my tail. I pulled over as far as I could and he whizzed by.

I trudged up the last hill to Te Puia Springs and stopped at the dairy for a snack. As I was coming out a young German cyclist was pulling in behind me. He had also ridden the same route as I, but started out at the East Cape lighthouse. After chatting a bit, I headed over to the hotel, one of those old Victorian hotels with pub, to find that they no longer had camping. I briefly considered staying at the hotel, but knew that there was both a campground and backpackers hostel at Tokomaru Bay, just 10km away, almost all downhill. So, I climbed the last short hill out of town, making my total climbing for the day more than 1000 meters and headed downhill.

Then, I fell dow.

Tomorrow, they will operate on my wrist. They plan to put the end of the radius bone back together with a titanium plate. It is curved to match the shape of the bone, and, if all goes well, it means that I will not lose the motion in my wrist. The two major possible complications are that there might be some nerve damage as they have to operate around the nerve going to my hand and the motion in my wrist might be reduced and I could end up with a stiff joint. They had to wait until tomorrow because the plate is a special order item, quite expensive and they have to courier one from Auckland.

Today's Photos:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

having typed 'orthopaedic surgeon gisborne nz' into google to find the name of a surgeon to treat my mum, I stumbled upon the wonderful account of your holiday in nz (and gisborne). while clearly your trip to hospital was a bit of a detour from the holiday plans, I was pleased to hear the treatment all went well and enjoyed reading about the rest of your trip - the details + pictures have made me very homesick!