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Rotorua started with good news and bad. Beginning with the bad, Lola (my trusty bike) started to complain. This happens so infrequently that I know to listen when it does. The chain slipped on the middle chain ring – first once, then again, and again. All the way from Tirau to Rotorua it occurred at irregular intervals and I feared for the worst. I worried that I knew what was wrong, but took it into KiwiBikes in Rotorua hoping for an unlikely positive assessment. Unfortunately, that was not forthcoming – my middle chain ring had some serious shark’s teeth. This means the metal teeth, which catch the links in the chain, had worn away so it became loose and liable to slip. Unfortunately changing this meant also getting a new chain, which stretches to fit the ring, and a rear cluster to boot. Damage estimate – NZ$220, about £100. A financial hit I really couldn’t afford to take, but I had no option, so on Saturday morning I checked my bike in.
But luckily there was good news to balance it out. On Friday Jane Hope from Destination Rotorua contacted me. We’d been in touch virtually about my journey, and she rang to say they had organized for me to meet with Shaloh Mitchell, managing director and resident of the Maori village of Ohinemutu. A book launch was taking place in the village honouring one Haane Manahi – a Maori soldier who had been nominated for the Victoria Cross only to be denied it for unknown, but highly questionable, reasoning. Jane also sorted out great accommodation for me, and I was all set for an experience quite unlike any other.