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, 28 September 2011

Bloody Wind!

I decided this week to do a 330km circuit near home.  Because I was going to be riding a touring bike with a bit of gear and because I'm not that fit at the moment I thought I'd make it easier on myself by making it a two day romp in the countryside.

An achievable 160km each day seemed to be the go.....  But life on the bicycle doesn't always go to plan and this little jaunt was one of those trips.

My first mistake stemmed from the fact that as mentioned previously I am the reluctant cyclist so I didn't end up leaving on day one until 11am, much to Adi's concern." No problem I said I often do 130km in an afternoon". Second mistake cockiness! Well the bike with overnight camping gear and spare clothes was somewhat heavier than  expected and I headed out into a southerly headwind that just kept getting stronger as the afternoon wore on. The first 70kms were up hill and by the time I had got to the half way point for that day I was ready to just give up, turn around and come back home with my tail between my legs. Four pm and I'd only covered 70kms! Before tossing the whole thing in I had a pie and triple strength energy drink.

Nothing like a pie and energy drink to make you really feel immortal. I decided to push on mainly to save face and because it was too late to get home anyway.

The great Bicycle Lord was looking after me because I picked up a tail wind and by 7pm had completed 130kms. I even managed to find a dumpy country tavern with a hot shower and a piece of grass out the back. All for $10. (Believe me a bargain in NZ)

If I look Buggered Its Because I was!
Tired as I was that night it had dawned on me that since my circuit was 330kms, and since I had only covered 130km, I was in for a 200km ride the next day or another night in my one man tent. My one man tent is not only the heaviest one man tent in existence its also the most uncomfortable and claustrophobic.

After waking up a couple times in the night thinking I'd died and been buried, only to find that I was still alive but just zipped up in a nylon  body bag, I decided I had to make the 200kms the next day.

The Coffin.
This time I was on my bike at 9am. But not before having another hot shower just to get my $10 worth.The wind was unpredictable and the bike just as heavy but this time I was a little more focused. I zoomed out to the most northerly part of the circuit along Marlborough Sounds and then headed West before fighting the bastard southerly wind again for the final 50kms home.

And here I sit happy that not only did I complete the mission but also that I managed 200kms on a reasonably heavy bike. I deserve chocolate.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Daylight Saving!

More hours in the day for you know what!

When you're a young man that means just one thing. But when you mature a bit it means more daylight hours on the bike. Now that I can concentrate on the Global Bike Race again my cycling has picked up. I managed to knock off 403 kms last week without unduly inconveniencing my time on the couch with cup of coffee and chocolate. I hate to say that this will not always be the case.

My change of route has necessitated the ordering of new guidebooks and some of these arrived from Amazon last week.(Cycling the Amazon, now there's an idea). They were my first ever purchase over the Internet and I can tell you they wont be my last since not only did I get them sooner than I would have from the bookshop but the price worked out to be half that of the stores even including freight!. O'yes I know what your thinking , that I missed out on all that social banter at the book shop. Well I could still go there for a chin wag but this time it wont cost me money.

Daylight saving means I could finally take the lights off my Mercian and while I was giving her a good clean I decided to take the commuting wheels off and put my touring wheels on as I've got a little 2 day trip planned next week that involves a bit of steep bullock track riding . Nothing like a bit of back country riding without a car in sight. It will be the first time in the tent this summer too. I got Adi an MP3 player for her birthday last week and on our normal Wednesday ride I didn't hear a peek out of her. I couldn't believe that someone could ride listening to music for 5 1/2 hours straight! I may as well have gone out on my own. As long as she's happy though. A happy Adi is a happy' Niel the Wheel'.

Last week our friend Brian S dropped off the Tour of Spain for us to watch. I'm currently watching it although its not as good as the Tour De France.  Paul Sherwin and Phil Legget are not commentating it. Adi however shocked me by saying that she was too busy planning my new route around the world to watch bike racing! She's very focused is my Adi.

I'd better plant some corn so that she is well fed while I'm away. The big bumbling farm flies are just starting again. Have you noticed how they refuse to go out the open windows but then you blast them with fly spray and they immediately go out straight away, flying until their little heads explode.

Silly wee things.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Birthday Girl.

I have to be honest. Last week, and I suppose a week or two before that, my motivation towards the global bike race has been pretty low. And because of that my fitness and kms travelled has also been naturally low . Last week was rock bottom with 200 odd kms travelled. This you might think is not that bad until you consider that it represents 200kms of commuting and 0kms of actual training.

The reason that I have dropped to these depths is two fold. The first is the logistical problems of getting Adi's Vespa sorted to follow me in the race and the second is the lack of definite structure concerning what is permitted in the race regarding accompanying helpers ,rules, guidelines etc.  The race organiser was / is threatening to put me in a second class because Adi wanted to follow me on scooter. My initial response to this was to think about shelving the whole idea of the race and for Adi and I to just once again go overseas cycle touring together. This would save a lot of dosh because we wouldn't have to ship Vespa's all over the world. Not to mention all other bureaucracy associated with motorbikes. I also felt that I was being treated as a second class competitor before I had even started the event. So we started planning this option while I mulled over the whole thing. With any fitness I had gained dropping away.

I honestly felt that this had to be an adventure that Adi and I could share. So although I found it difficult to explain to friends why I was now having many second thoughts on the whole thing I also felt justified in my decision to concentrate on our cycle tour together.

My other concern was that the expense incurred by us to get to the event start in London was considerably more than most of the other contestants who are British. If the event was to fall over due to  lack of interest from contestants, organisers or sponsors we would be very much out of pocket whereas the others could just pack up and catch the next bus home.

So these things have been waying on my mind. Last week was Adi's birthday and because I couldn't give a gnat's whisker about cycling we decided to go out on the Vespa's cafe-ing for the day. I was under strict instruction not to go anywhere off road or on gravel. But as can be seen from the photo I found a short cut that involved only two river crossings and managed to rejoin Adi further up the road. We had a good day and I presented my birthday girl with a miniature Vespa and an mp3 player. Adi shockingly refused to cook me dinner that night!!! So I  zoomed of to get Fish&chips which we ate while watching a video. Engrossed by an adventurer and MTBer who had to cut his hand off because he was silly enough to get it stuck between a rock and a hard place, we ate our F&C's

That night I was violently ill with food poisoning which serves me right for not cooking Adi a birthday dinner. I cant use the illness as an excuse for not cycling much though.

Ive told half my friends that I'm not now doing the Global bike race and have warned Diane our friend and travel agent that Adi and I will now need two round the world tickets so we can go cycle touring in far away countries together, minus Vespa hassles.     (That was then).

But I can report now that I am not writing this blog with a heavy heart but with renewed enthusiasm. Because after chatting with the' Vespa chick' today I found out that she is not only happy with me still doing the Global Bike Race without her, she wants me to do it! She says she will be my unpaid planner and will visit me at certain points in the trip to give my no doubt lagging spirits a boost. So I'm really happy because she is behind me and will be able to hold the home fort while I'm gone riding the world!

So now training can once again start in a focused way. I WILL START TOMORROW.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Rugby World Cup.

I read in the Cycle touring Club newsletter about a couple of English cycle tourists that have spent the last year and a half or so cycling from England to the World Cup in good old New Zealand

 I tell you, as a cycle tourist, their video and pictures of the trip don't make me envious, as it looks like they did a great portion of the adventure in sleet and ice. I'm not a softy cyclist but I still think cycling in temperatures down to -25 degrees a bit silly when, if you planned the trip a bit better, you could cycle and still have some feeling in your fingers and not have to carry 6 layers of merino with you.

The other part of the trip that doesn't inspire is their preoccupation with everything rugby along the way.Unfortunately for me my father decided to immigrate to NZ before I was born and then instilled in me from an early age how stupid the game of rugby was and how only thick people played it! Thanks Dad for leaving me in a country obsessed with rugby. You could have at least taught me to enjoy it while sucking on a bottle of beer like your traditional kiwi bloke.

The funny thing though apart from my dilemma at university when I found out that my professor in Chemistry not only loved rugby but also played it (how can that be Dad?), was the utter chaos in Auckland yesterday when people couldn't get to the first game or home afterwards because the public transport system failed completely.

Politicians are up in arms and heads will roll they reckon because we have had 6yrs to plan for this. Two hundred thousand people all of a sudden want to use public transport and it all falls over and nobody can get anywhere. And I say its hardly surprising in a country totally addicted to the car as a means of personal travel and a succession of governments happy to spend billions on new roads but hating the fact that a few dollars might be better spent upgrading public transport. City elders thinking God forbid clipping on a cycleway to the Auckland harbour bridge so some nutters can cycle to work.

Well that English couple managed to get to the game on time from the other side of the world. While some All Blacks mother missed her sons game, because she didn't think along with thousands of other kiwis, that she could have made it easily if she'd just jumped on her Raleigh 20. When will people realise that a bicycle is not a toy or just a piece of sporting equipment. Its a vehicle for travel. And capable of taking you from A to B.

I've spent every day cycling to and fro this week but didn't clocked up many kms. Two hundred kms of commuting and the odd shopping trip with the BOB trailer. Had to pick up a new vacuum cleaner as our old one blew up in a cloud of electrical smoke early in the week. Whenever I buy something bigger than a bread box from the hardware or other store I always get the same response. "Are you going to carry that on your bike!!!!!"

I've been plagued a bit this week by born again cyclists on the cycleways. The spring fluoro jacketed cyclists are out again now its warmed up a bit. You can easily spot the born again brigade of cyclists. They're the ones that dawdle along the cycleways with their fluoro jackets , rear vision mirrors which they never use, pushing knobbly tires better suited to tackling Andean mountain trails rather than urban cycleways.

 Travelling in bunches of two to four they're usually easy to negotiate around once they realise there are other cyclists in existence wishing to  pass. Behind them and wishing only to get by they slowly come to grips with how to manoeuvre their bikes onto the correct side of the cycleway so that you can overtake.

Then you're past and on your way to the next fluoro blockage. However on three separate occasions last week I'd be past the jacketed geriatrics only to glance around a couple of minutes later to find one sucked into my slipstream head down with jacket flapping in the wind evidently hell bent on getting a better look at my campag rear derailleur,(his mates are long gone). What is it with urban wheel suckers? I know I haven't got a number on my back so why is it that they think this is a race? In fact I think it's really rude to sit on someones wheel when they don't have a number on their back! There is a certain amount of pleasure to be had in dropping the Mercian into a higher gear and riding them off your back wheel but I still find the thought of it very irksome.

These Viagra induced junkies are a menace since their bike handling skills rarely match their will to win what they must perceive as the' Cycleway Worlds'.