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Life and near death

 

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We pull up to the entrance of the forest, and wander over to Mountain Bike Rotorua, where everybody stands around and makes small talk. Before the ride, if it is a day of leisure with no time pressure. After the ride, on any other day.

Subjects are predictable. 

The wondrousness of the trails, the near miss, the crash, the old thing that didn't work, the new thing that did.

So it was an unusual day when Tak, the proprietor of Mountain Bike Rotorua, related an incident that had taken place that morning: a guy experienced heart failure right there in the carpark.

While nobody could be considered lucky in a situation like that, there was considerable good fortune involved. 

The MTB First Aid programme of the Rotorua Mountain BikeClub has purchased a defibrillator, as well as a bunch of other useful and potentially life-saving hardware, and it lives in the Mountain Bike Rotorua HQ. The MBR people are trained in first aid, but by pure chance, there was an intensive-care unit nurse on hand. Everything worked as it should, and the man was conscious and able to speak within four minutes of his collapse.

Chalk one up to Wendy Ardern, the club member who created the First Aid programme, and all the people who donated to make it happen.

The following day, a visit to the same place connected us up with a visiting Australian couple, Aysha and Aaron. 

They had just returned from their ride, and they were more than usually excited. First, she had binned it getting out of the carpark, and given herself a decent bruise on the leg. Then, he had hauled her up to the top of Tokorangi. She had cursed him for a good part of the long climb, which she admitted to walking most of. Then, next to the most photographed tree stump in the Whakarewarewa Forest, with the splendours of Rotorua laid out before them, he proposed.

It was like he had set himself up for a fail. Take your chosen one, have her injure herself in a humiliating way, make her go to a place you have never been yourself, on the off-chance it’s romantic, via a route she really doesn't like. 

But he didn't fail. She said ‘yes’. And in the circumstances, that ‘yes’ is probably one you could take to the bank. Anybody might say ok when the environment is a softly lit restaurant and there are several glasses of champagne on board. But committing to a relationship when you are standing amongst the wreckage of a clearcut, in a stiff breeze, having limped to the spot pushing a bicycle, that is a match made in heaven.

Probably just as well he didn't follow it up by taking his new fiancee down Eastern Spice.