Tall Poppy

Tis a risk universally acknowledged that a poppy in need of chopping gets it

Day 2 in Zoo Kneeland Tall Poppy Tour 2010
In this land it is frowned upon to vaunt one’s greatness. I got

this from one of my literary heros, Jeff Masson, a writer who

emigrated from Berkeley to Auckland’s windy shores. His book,

Slipping Into New Zealand (a la Mae West?).

Masson paid a visit to Sir Edmund Hillary at home,

and got a clue about True Kiwi Modesty, which
waves off praise like a bad smell). Hillary is one of the world’s
great contributors (built hospitals after his legendary climb) and
still is Just Yr Average Guy. Masson did manage to convince him that
at least to a few people, Hillary made a difference. But the national
character is not to make a fuss of one’s self–the tall poppy is the
one assured of getting chopped by the mower of public opinion.
What is a woman with Selfish Team issues and a hypertrophic sense of
Grandiosity & Queenliness to do?
Ride around until I’ve been mowed down to size. Preferably not by an
automobile, truck, or other contrivance. Perhaps I’ll do the mowing

Thanks to Dean Watson, Gaz Sullivan, Jeff  Anderson at Kiwi bikes and Graeme Simpson, I’m now sitting underneath the planet, in  what many call bicycle wonderland.

One  thing : I’ll have to look hard to find a ‘lonely’ road where I’m the “only vehicle all day”. Thus far, (from my perspective as an auto passenger) New Zealand roads are narrow, with nearly no shoulder, and are full of drivers two feet apart, who pass on blind curves. The government has dotted the roads with unsettling “please be tolerant” signs, plus ones that say “winners don’t drink and drive”.
I don’ t have to rag on this beautiful country, their bureau of traffic statistics does a great job. The alarming fatalities (exceed of course by USA) can be a hell of a motivator for people to ride off the roads completely, and I must say, I can’t wait til Paul Kennett and the government complete the Great Trails project in 2014 (I’ll be back!) ….I’d written to the minister, and plan to meet with him when I pass back thru Auckland. The NZ pols are VERY accessible!

(PS You’ll be the first to hear of it when I find a lonely road!)

Today’s breakfast: passionfruit curd! Never saw that before. Toast from real bread. Tea from the bottom shelf at the supermarket (they are called “countdown” here!).

I saw my first cyclists yesterday: twenty kids in identical yellow rain-ponchos pedaling from their school. They were the only cyclists out in the moody cold spring wind.

“Sideshow Bob” (my guardian angel the last couple days) took me to Rotorua, dropped me off at Bike Vegas in Fenton street.

It is a vast, tidy shop with a knowledgeable staff,   who met my  sonorous “I MADE IT!”  with a “we see that” sort of expression.
“I’m a month early” , I added.

SSWC (singlespeed world championship) in Rotorua. Front row seat!  Rotorua, the gently sulphur scented heart of New Zealand’s volcanic plateau).

Travelwise, I like to go early, leave late, and develop a reputation. Or arrive really late and really burnish my rep.

~ by jacquiephelan on September 23, 2010.

One Response to “Tall Poppy”

  1. mow Jacquie down please may I never live to see the day

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