In a world increasingly preoccupied with throwaway materialistic things; where people are constantly busy earning money to pay for those things, or so their children can have those things;
This is the story of my dreams of travelling the world by bicycle. Because it's there. And because I dont want to die without experiencing the truly important things in life .

A sense of wonder and a sense of adventure.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Passports & Home Repairs

Adi's new passport has come and I want one like it too. New Zealand has changed its design since I last got one. The new passport is black and has silver ferns and Maori stuff in it. I'll have to put up with my old blue one because it still has plenty of pages with no stamps. Visas and kilometres are all Adi talks about these days. She's just a girl of numbers. It's "Niel can you ride 200kms per day for 15days?" And my standard reply "Whatever."
I might be able to ride 200kms a day but the question will be, would I want to?

Happy Feet  Not Allowed to Go Home.

All this visa stuff makes me think of poor old  'Happy Feet'' Happy Feet' is an Emperor Penguin that came ashore on a beach just north of Nelson. It appears' Happy Feet', sick of the Antarctica winter took off for an overseas adventure as you do. However it appears' Happy Feet' failed to get his passport stamped before leaving Antarctica.  Now having been detained by the New Zealand authorities he finds out that after a 4000km journey,he can not go back home because he does not meet the requirements for a re-entry permit.(Even Emperor Penguins struggle with bureaucracy) 

Apart from Visas stuff I've spent the day not cycling. As after all this rain 'Potter's End' has sprung a leak. Some of my friends seem to be able to spend their whole lives cycling but I have an old house to maintain so have been on the roof looking for water trails. Imagine my excitement on finding just what I was looking for and hopefully fixing it for nothing. Adi didn't seem that excited so I told her that the money I had saved doing repairs myself could buy me a new pair of cycle shoes. That got her going!

Niel on the Roof.
I did actually manage to get out on my bike a couple of days ago and cycle around one of my 100km circuits. Winter circuits around here are great because there's plenty of gravel roads that pack down in the winter dampness and frost to become very rideable. In fact it was on this ride after checking out some of the neighbours places that I decided I'd better do a bit of maintenance on my own house.

I figure that if I don't do any work on my house before I go overseas.  It will look something like the house up the road.I quite like the stripped effect they've gone for on the roof though. O' and I must remember to tell whoever is looking after our house not to let the sheep in.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

New Route

Check out 'Wheel Around the World' section for slight change of route.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Strada Bianca

My bikes a bit of a hybrid. It can cope with not only the sealed roads my roadie friends ride on but also the gravel roads common around where I live. In fact if I had a limited imagination or a Pinerello Dogma I'd probably do what some roadies do and stay on the seal safely within 150kms of my home at all times. But I do have a rather active imagination and yesterday while dreaming of one day riding the L'Orica in Italy I decided to follow my own strada bianca circuit on the gravel.

This is not the first time I've gone bush. It's a regular winter problem some would say I have. Many a Sunday bunch ride after nearly fulling off my bike with boredom on the back of the bunch ( I tend to stay down the back. Roadies don't like hybrids in front of them) I have taken a hard right or left onto the gravel and headed where no sane roadie hath pedalled before.

A midwinter afternoon ride on the strada bianca seemed like the ticket. And in fact  was going swimmingly until I approached the first tree across the road. No worries I thought. Council needs to get onto that one. After negotiating the fifth tree across the road, one ditch that I almost needed a climbing rope to get across , and a wild pig not a bit like the one pictured I began to think "not many people have been this way lately".


One thing I learnt very early on in cycle touring is no matter how bad things are they can always get worse. An afternoon short on light in the first place wore on as my strada bianca progressed rather quickly to strada verde or more aptly put, a goat track.

Never panic in these situations. So after panicking in the darkness I eventually popped out in the friendly little village of Upper Moutere.

The next Sunday boys rides on me. Bring a packed lunch and a GPS .

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Adi's Playing Hard ball

Now I'm scared! Adi decided last night that she wanted to spread the word more about her blog so like an idiot I said she should put a link on the Vespa club site. Well she put a link to her blog on the Vespa Facebook site! The vespa facebook site has over 500,000 members!

I really appreciate all my followers. All ten of you are tops in my book but I can't let this lie. Even with the combined help of the Mercian Appreciation Society I think once the Vesparites get a wind of Adi's around the world scoot I'll be left as a mere circus act to her global exploits. I know that when we were cycle/Vespaing across Aussie in 2009 my exploits on my MUM (mercian urban machine) where a mere side show to Adi's Vespa antics. At one point early on in the trip in Perth  a guy was talking to Adi with me nearby and I overheard him say "where you going on that loaded scooter"." Sydney" Adi said.

"WHAT ON THAT!!..... Legendary" was his reply

I'm over here on the bicycle, I felt like saying.

Closer to Sydney Adi got the opposite. " You've come from Perth, ON THAT!"

Last night Adi said "Niel , next year will be pay back time. For once one of us will be suffering and it wont be me". That's the appreciation us blokes get for giving our girlfriends overseas trips.

A picture of my beloved 'Gromit' on the West Coast (Adi's there too). 

Anyway I want my cycling friends to know that I have a Vespa as well and if you see mention of it in my blog its because I want Vesparites to follow my blog as well. Especially since I'll be the one losing precious hours sleep next year wondering how to keep Adi's Vespa on the road as well as having to cycle 170kms per day on my Mercian.

One for the boys. 'Gromit' posing with the NZ army.

Note from the photos that I'm never far away from my bicycle. I'm hoping in our travels next year that we meet up with lots of people that have an interest in vespa and cycle touring.  I think the worlds fastest man on a bicycle 'Mark Cavendish' has a soft spot for a good Italian scooter.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Where's the Passion ?

Ok I admit it, I'm passionate about bike riding to the point of it being a psychotic condition. At times some of my friends might think that I treat my bike a good deal better than I  treat Adi.I'd like everybody to know that that  may have been the case in the first 10-15yrs of Adi's and my relationship but now Adi is definitely up there on an equal footing with my bike.

Never underestimate one of these.

But that's not what this is about. I want to say that I really admire people that are passionate about anything no matter how silly because those people are much more interesting than your average boring person that does nothing different from one year to the next.(How many years do those people think they've got to do all those interesting things out there?). One of my friends recently got kicked in the head by her horse ( boy I bet that hurt!) and I made some comment about how my bike wouldn't whack me when I wasn't looking. And she said that at least her horse loves her.


It's great having a bit of healthy banter with people that care about something. A few people that I know are passionate enough about cycling to say that they will cycle with me on bits of my global bike race next year. So at this stage I may well have company across Aussie and Canada! I don't think there's anything in the rules against a bit of wheel sucking. In fact since this is the first Global Bike Race I don't think there are any rules?

No doubt this time next week a package the size of a  chilly bin will turn up at the bike shop packed with preliminary race rules.

The South Americans have entered The Race.

I notice from the entry list that Brazil, Spain and the USA have entered their best. Things are getting tricky. Whereas before most of the contestants were from the UK and Isle of Man and I felt assured that  I could gain time by riding while the others where having 11zees , lunch break and afternoon tea zeez now I have to contend with people that will not ride to union rules and will also not burn in the mid day sun! I will just have to be more resourceful.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


See wheel post in 'Equipment' section

Friends Are Great

Just when you feel a bit down and overwhelmed by the whole idea of shipping a vespa motor cycle to the other side of the world. And the thought of all the things that could go wrong with it as we travel across Europe and Asia. Good stuff happens.

Three separate parcels arrive for Niel the Wheel at work!

This book is a great read. No Ortlieb panniers here.
The first was from 'Scottish Git'.' Scottish Git' is not a follower of my blog. But he could well be a reader. I don't know were Scottish Git got his name from but I have a strong suspicion that I gave it to him principally because he hails from Scotland. Initially I could only decipher about 2/3's of what he was saying often miss interpreting the critical pieces of the conversation. But I immediately took a liking to Sam. He was a true cycling enthusiast, had a great sense of humour,and had even owned a Vespa and had toured on it in Greece. Sam dropped in a book he thought I'd be interested in called 'Travels With Rosinante' which I've started reading. Reading about other peoples cycle travels around the world always encourages me. If they can do it so can I. Thanks for that Sam.

The next little package came from Brian S. Brian drops off DVD's for me because he knows that I am too tight to get Sky TV on.These are DVD's of cycle races that he copies off for me.Adi and i are currently watching the Tour du Dauphine. A couple of weeks ago Brian dropped off the Paris - Roubaix. These DVD's are doubly appreciated because my Vodafone download package only allows 2GB which doesn't go far when I start watching U-tube cycle videos and Adi watches Italian studs on Vespas .When we go cycling overseas we can always rely on Brian to have the Tour de France on DVD for us on our return.

Around the World on Ordinaries.

The third package that arrived for me so far is a mystery? It arrived yesterday from Australia. A book detailing Keith Dunstan's joy of cycling.It's awesome and I can only guess at this stage that it is from Jack and Lauren Dunstan who live in Melbourne. Lauren and Jack are a couple who Adi and I met while cycling in the US last year. Lauren and Jack were cycling right across the US following Jacks grandfathers cycle trip many years before.Jacks obviously not a man of many words as there was no note with the book and I've received no email to say it was coming. I'll contact Jack shortly to confirm it. Once again it's a cracker book and I will read it once I finish Scottish Gits book. It was great to meet Lauren and Jack fellow antipodean cycle travellers, while cycling in a country that at times to me, made no sense at all.I sensed that at times Jack like myself was struggling with some aspects of the American way of life. Anyway taking the piss out of an Aussie is always good and takes your mind off the road ahead. Lauren was from Ireland and I remember her telling me that her mother instilled in her that she should marry a man with good prospects and settle down. I'm sure that must relate to Jack some how. (just kidding Jack) . It must be an English /Irish mother thing as my Mum reckoned I should settle down with a nice varsity graduate. Luckily for me Adi found me first!

I'm hoping to touch bases with Jack and Lauren again next year as I cycle across Aussie for a second time. I just cant get enough of the place. Get your cycle shoes on guys.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Rain, Rain, Rain

Well its official. Last month was the wettest in Nelson on record. I'm not surprised and neither is any other cyclist that has got to go out in it every day. Today is weekly grocery shopping day and because Adi and I have sold our cars and because my beloved combi still sits in the workshop minus his engine we are out on our bikes with our BOB trailers getting the groceries.

Grocery loading.

Its pissing down. My friends will back me up when I say that even if I had an engine in my car I'd still make Adi do the shopping with me in the rain, after all its character forming. But my bike is beginning to complain after weeks of rain. For one thing I went into the study the other night to check up on something and wondered what the strange smell was. Later I confirmed that it was indeed my Mercian rotting. My leather seat was busy drying and on doing so filling the room with an aroma much like wet dog . My leather H/bar grips also trying to dry had swollen to a point where they were contemplating popping off the bars. They were so tight.

 It's funny to think that this time last year I was cycling in Wyoming and my temperature gauge was sitting on 40 degrees centigrade! The leather washes in my grips had dried and contracted like the skin on my face and my wife was on the point of heat exhaustion behind me. She later disputed this but in any case when she kept asking me what the temperature was I thought of a number below 35. I recall relaxing in the shade at the top of a particularly steep hill only to be told by a passing motorist "Is that your partner back down there climbing the hill? She looks like she needs urgent medical attention!" I thought if it was that serious why didn't they stop and offer some help? A few minutes thinking about it and I was concerned enough to cycle back down ,once I'd stashed my BOB trailer. I have to say I've seen Adi looking better. But she was still on her feet. What a trooper.

Anyway its winter , pouring down and its easy to feel a bit discouraged about the Global Bike Race that I've entered. This time next year I will have to ride all day regardless of the weather.Most of my concerns centre around the logistics of getting Adi's Vespa scooter from one place to another.If only it was as simple as just turning up with my Mercian and BOB and just going for it. I suggested to Adi the other day that she just accompany me for bits of the trip but she'd have none of it. For her it will be a huge adventure on the Vespa and I can't blame her for that. It would be very lonely without her.

It doesn't stop me waking up with nightmares of Adi stuck ,up to her  taillights in mud while crossing Bangladesh or trying to fix a puncture during a downpour in Thailand.

I've just got rain on the brain.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Lights At Night.

Can you believe it!!!

The police want to encourage cyclists to use lights at night. So what are they proposing with the help of the Nelson City Council??

Cyclist in Full Compliance.

They are giving cyclists caught without lights a free reflective vest and a set of lights! What ever happened to 'zero tolerance'. cyclists caught at night without lights should be ticketed just like any other road user. If you break the law you face the music.
I almost feel like switching off my lights so that I can collect my free vest and flashies, on the rate or tax payer I presume. I'm all for free stuff, but you shouldn't get it as a reward for breaking the law.

The cycleways are a death trap at the moment with unlit lower life forms all over the place. (and I don't mean just the dogs out exercising their owners)
Caught in the Headlamp beam before Impact." Look Mum No Lights".
Its been statistically proven that cyclists on average have a higher IQ than your average motorist. So give us the credit of knowing we have to have lights at night and fining those of us still struggling with the operation of our flashers and quick release levers.

Monday, 6 June 2011


I know there's plenty of cyclists out there that will po po full mudguards. But where are they in the winter when us real  cyclists are out there freezing our balls off and  enduring snotty icicles clinging to the ends of our noses.

I certainly didn't see any when I was out today. They've probably hung up their bikes for the winter (fine weather warriors).

My only problem today (besides getting out of bed ) was that the pretty weather girl had forecast it to be fine. so not only had I not taken my jacket but I'd not put the Mudguardies on.

The result you can see for yourself. It wasn't just my bike that got splattered my nice colour coordinated kit got a good going over with mud as well. You look pretty stupid riding back home along the cycle way looking like a Paris -Roubaix rider and they wont let you into the posh cafes that I usually inhabit.

So today's lesson to me was to put my muddies on for the winter and leave them on.That way I wont have cow dung between my teeth when I get home.

Thank goodness I've got Adi to wash my kit. I wonder if after she's finished work tomorrow whether she'll have time to run a damp rag over my bike?

NEVER hose your bike. Best to damp rag it.

Saturday, 4 June 2011


I'm excited!. I have now two followers for my blog! I feel the pressure is now on to keep my new friends interested in my challenge.

At this stage though it should be fairly easy as my first follower was Mercian cycles and they will principally be interested in how their bike frame stands up to the punishment it will sustain during my travels.

My other follower is a fellow global challenge rider who will no doubt want to glean a competitive advantage by reading my blog. This could be a bit of a problem if word gets out to other competitors.When I construct my "Race Enhancement and Nutrient section " I'll have to fail to mention all key ingredients.

I think I should add at this point that some might call me  "Niel the self righteous retro cyclist"and there's probably good reason why my facebook friends number in the less than 40 and not in the hundreds or thousands. At least the friends I have should feel special.

I went through a spell awhile back where I de friended anyone on my facebook page that had too many pictures of babies or children, anyone who regularly or in fact ever winged about the price of petrol, anyone who had pictures of V8 engines. That left mainly my cycle friends and although I have raced and enjoy following the great classic bike races I got sick of people constantly going on about what their place and time was in whatever the latest event was.

Then I only had one friend left , my wife.

So now I wont de friend people for mentioning bike races.

And in return if you want to follow my blog all two of you will have to put up with me slagging off motorists, going on about the global challenge for the next year and a half, and taking pot shots at just about anyone who hasn't embraced the bike as a way to save the world.

O and by the way Stephen have I told you lately "I'm going to kick your Ass" 

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Planning, Planning, Planning

The other day I was back at the bike shop tidying the events board and sorting the magazines when one of my fellow workers came up to me and said "Hey Niel there's a long distance cycle tour/race next year from Cape Reinga to Bluff, you'd be interested in that wouldn't you?"

I'm sure my  work mates still don't believe me when I say that I am racing around the world next year.
I'm convinced  that they are are just not taking me seriously!

"Yes G that race would suit me if it wasn't for one small detail, I WILL BE RACING AROUND THE WORLD NEXT YEAR!"

In fact if I'm on schedule I should be passing through New Zealand about this time next year.  I'm sure that when I stick my head into the bike shop on the way through after completing half way around the world, the boys will say "Hi Niel, what are you up too?"


"OK" they'll say "See you tomorrow"

Time will tell. The same sort of thing happens with my brother and sister. I'll shoot off an email to say what I'm planning and either receive an email back with no mention of it or something to the effect that they've just cycled this or that and that maybe I should maybe give this cycling a go.

So just to convince myself that I'm not living in a dream, the maps come out and the planning is once again tackled.

I have to admit that the Adi has done most of the preliminary course planning. Whereas I find it quite depressing hearing that I have to cycle on average 180kms per day, Adi I feel gets  a certain degree  of pleasure out of it. I'll stay in denial a bit longer.

One things for sure. I can't call it all off now. Too many people know about it and one cannot loose face.