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.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Re United With the Sunday Bunch.

I managed not only to get out of bed, make my own breakfast and feed the chicken but also to once again meet the Sunday bunch ride!

I have to say it was worth it because not only was the pace just that bit uncomfortable to start with but the course included some reasonable hilly sections. Imagine my surprise also when it was decided we should do a couple of gravel sections. My mtb/hybrid would have been in its element here if I had actually had wider tyres on. Unfortunately I'd put my sports wheels on and suffered as much as everyone else, riding road bikes.

Latter on in the ride when I'd recovered a bit from the pace, and before I got my legs ripped off on yet another climb, I took a couple of pictures.

The first shows me getting uncomfortably close to the front of the bunch. And there's another hill coming up. Hurting as my legs were I was happy to still be in the picture so to speak. One of my friends (Gethyn) on the ride asked me if I was going to do the annual Around Lake Taupo Cycle Race this year.

The Lake Taupo Race is one of the biggest mass rides in the world now apparently, with 1000's of riders competing at different levels. The circuit is 160kms around the volcanic lake and is pretty hilly.
I did the two lap option last year but decided this year to give it a miss. Last year was a mission enough taking my Vespa up with bike on the back and then doing the 320km race. But the seed had been planted in my brain by Gethyn and maybe I had discounted this event a bit prematurely. Especially as this year I would have the time to cycle the 450kms to the event. I could then race once around and ride home in the following week.

That thought was growing in 'Niel the Wheel's' head as I rode along. Maybe Gethyn would like to tour up to Taupo on the bikes, do the Race, where we get our legs ripped off and then tour back to good old Nelson. (All good training for the Global Bike Race).

Also a good chance for me to practise riding with low riders and panniers. Something I haven't done for a long time since discovering BOB trailers. I will do my best to not only encourage Gethyn but maybe two others since I have two spare BOB trailers in the garage and roadies don't usually have access to carriers and panniers. (In fact the mere mention of panniers sends them into a vacant stare much like the stare they usually get when gravel road is mentioned.)

The race is in one month so time will tell whether I'm alone or with company.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

My First On-Line Purchase.

I know this sort of thing is nothing new for most of you. But for someone who didn't have a lap top 6 months ago its still pretty amazing to buy something mail order.

As I mentioned in previous blogs I'm still working at the bike shop but have now only a couple of weeks to go. I've handed in my notice to begin working on our old villa 'Potters-End' since wood eating insects have had about 40yrs head start on trying to destroy our dream in the countryside. It might take me a few years to catch up on them. And while I'm at it I'll need to insulate the place a bit more completely than the early settlers seemed to have thought necessary and replace the piles. Not much work really!

O'and I need to fit in a cycle race around the world. Because Adi says I'm not getting any younger and if I'm going to beat those young'uns and have something to dream about while I slurp my coffee on the deck in the future I'd better get of the fence and get my head properly around it.(Something I am still having huge trouble doing).

Anyway I've bought some cycle shoes that I couldn't get through the local supplier.

Aren't they beautiful. I've always loved Sidi shoes. I ordered the white ones because I thought they'd match the white barber pole stripes on my Mercian frame. And if I'm unlucky and break that Mercian (God forbid) they would also match my spare white framed Mercian. I think the silver ones look too much like Shimano moon boot type shoes. No offence to the moon boot cyclists out there.

As soon as Adi had told me to get back into Global Bike  Race training she was back on the couch planning my 200km days on the bike during the event.

"Leave me some time to eat and sleep lovey". I suppose its for the best. At $50 per day I wont have much money for eating, and sleeping will probably be strictly under the nearest hedge I suppose.

Got an email the other day from the organiser asking me what colour icon I wanted to represent me on their web page. Since at that stage I had decided that life would be a lot easier just not going biking around the world at all I, didn't get immediately back to them so will no doubt miss all the exciting colours. I will let you all know my colour in due course. If I'm really lucky they may run out of coloured icons and I can settle for a nice little 6 week cycling trip in Vietnam with Adi instead.

As you can see I'm still looking for an excuse for not doing this event. So feel free to give me some if you wish.

I'm not called the reluctant cyclist for nothing.

Thanks Jane for the comment on greenies. Just this week the world population reached 7 billion. Everyone please stop breeding, the cycleways are crowded enough already after school! Or could we keep them in school permanently?

Or could we just have a moratorium on breeding for 50yrs. That's not much to ask.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Sunday Group Ride.

Dawn breaks and 'Niel the Wheel's' bike is ready. Actually its been ready since last night when I shined him and put his sport wheels on in anticipation. Adi didn't like the fact that Mercian was in the lounge but I had to have him on hand to give myself every help in getting out the door in time, or in fact just getting out the door.

"You wont do it". Adi said as I went to bed.

6.30 am and I'm up. "Don't try tempting me with your body sweet pea, It's cycling with the boys that I want today!" I did it! The hard part is over. I just had to throw down some creamed rice , a cup of coffee and find some matching cycle kit. After dry reaching on the rice a couple of times I'm out the door and onto the trusty stead for the 10km ride to the meet point outside the local bike shop.

My Beauty Awaits. What fun We'll Have.
I don't want to turn up too early it wouldn't do to appear to keen. So I soft pedal a bit and gauge it so that I'm there stylishly late. But not that late.

I would like to say when I got there that the front of the bike shop was packed with other riders. In fact I'd have to say that numbers were down a bit on what I remember from my previous bunch rides. I might even say I was a little disappointed with numbers. Anyway after a brief discussion on the days route and after an affirmative from those present that we all wanted a hill climb it was agreed to head to the Whangamoas. Making it a 100km day for everyone.

An Argument Ensued About which direction To Take. Niel Got His Way.
The ride out to the base of the Whangamoas is exposed to the sea breezes. Luckily the morning  air was calm as 'Niel the wheel' was having trouble getting shelter in the back of the bunch. No sooner had he worked his way back there, he seemed to find himself on the front again. Cursing at those around him to take a fair turn so that he would have time to get a Whittaker's bar down in preparation for the climb.

It was decided at the start that unofficial points would be given to the first man or women to the top. These points could be crucial for not only the ego of the rider on the day but also could secure the rider the overall prize since sprinting at the end of a Sunday group ride is certainly not cool.

On the Way to the Polka Dot Jersey.
In the end it was no contest. First to the top and the admiration from all the girls around. After such a hard fought victory it was hard to come down. But once we all had it was straight back to Richmond along the cycleways scaring as many kids and dogs as humanly possible. Sixty km/hr on the cycleway certainly feels fast! I took some rubber off the back wheel when the little girl with the ponytails pulled out without looking.(Don't their parents teach them anything these days!)

Anyone For a Drink.
Post race drinks were a quiet affair. I suppose everyone was just tired from the excesses of the day. Personally I was just looking forward to the prize giving. Knowing that I'd scored all points for the day I felt relaxed about walking away with whatever it was. Until someone suggested it should be a spot prize to be fare.

O'all right then.

What I've Won the Car!! All for Me?
Initial surprise and glee quickly subsided when I realised it was a pretty useless thing and how would I get it home on my bike anyway.

Hopefully next Sunday there might be something decent to win. But then if more people turn up it could be a bit tougher to walk away with the goods. Just my luck.

Until then then.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Green Grocer.

Today I had reason to cycle 30kms to the green grocer's shop. Normally I wouldn't be seen dead in a health shop or organic shop like the one pictured, since I partake only in foods that are cheap and ones you get a big bang of calories for your buck. Something troubles me deep down inside about paying top dollar for some spuds or carrots just because they've been grown in soil certified free of everything evil known to man.

Always Plenty of Room in the Bike Rack at the Health Food Shop.

But Adi needed some Rice Syrup. Apparently Rice Syrup is the only thing that will successfully stick her homemade slice together. Unfortunately for me you can't get this stuff from the supermarket only from the Greene shop. And because it comes from the Greene shop it must be hand squeezed by Amazonian princesses, because it costs an arm and a leg!I think the organic Greene shop must be one of the few businesses that has a higher mark up than  pharmacies, that I also seldom go.

But anyway while I was outside guarding the bikes and waiting for Adi to come out with the liquid gold I couldn't help but make some observations about the sort of people that frequent these sort of shops. And I must say I am totally confused. I thought that your average organic vegey lover was a planet hugging, un-materialistic , kind hearted person merrily skipping along in his or her bear feet totally focused on what's good for planet Earth.

Everything you need to Know About having a Baby

Kids On the Premises. But Luckily all Food is Wrapped.

Instead you see an empty bike rack while patrons turn up in four wheel drives.  Notice boards on the shop windows shout the joys of producing more babies in a world groaning under the weight of human offspring. I have never really managed to fathom this one. No one I've talked to over the years in this country has been able to explain to me how having kids is in any way helps our planet overcome its problems. When I brought it up with my mother as a teenager she said "if you're smart Niel you'll spent your time on your bike and not even think about having kids, and for that matter keep away from Cathy fisher next door!" And then later being in the cycling club and not in the college rugby or rowing club was all the contraception I needed.

Still later, after many thousands of miles on my bike, I think my virility was finally tamed for good.(not that I've seriously tried to make a little 'Niel the Wheel' you understand).

Anyway I've just put it down to the fact that organic Greene types just want to live forever ,reproduce their own genes,  keep as much of the planet alive long enough for their kids to see it and sod everything else.

I on the other hand just want to ride my bike on deserted roads and sod everything else except Coke and chocolate. (or ice cream on a hot day).

I think I've lost the plot sufficiently today except to say that Adi is very jealous of the fact that I have readers from such far away countries as Ukraine, Russia, Sweden and Georgia. To name a few. All I can say to that is I hope one day to cycle in those amazing places.

I tell you if I was cycling the Ukraine a carrot would go in the pot whether it was organic or not. No hesitation there. But for now I just have to focus on getting up early enough this Sunday to make the group training ride!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Good Day at Home.

Yes I had a good day today even though I did no cycling.
I awoke at the early call of chicken Woo ( it must have been before 9am !) demanding her breakfast of chicken pellets and sunflower seeds, sun streaming across the veranda and not the forecast stormy rain.
The barometer was dropping so I didn't hold up much hope of the weather lasting. But it did and I got another huge area of scrub cleared for my new corn patch. The neighbours in the orchard turned up with their tractor and got the bonfire going. So while they were away having lunch I dumped all my cuttings on it. Talk about smoke Trev! I've got to work quickly on this little project because my corn seedlings are just coming through the potting mix. They've got to be planted tout suite so that we can be munching our way through summer cobs.

The sun hung around long enough today for me to get the Mercian out to thoroughly dry off after getting drenched on my way home from work yesterday. I had my B17 leather saddle on and although its just my commuter saddle I don't like to risk it staying wet for long. Because if there's one thing a true adventure cyclist cant abide its a wet leather saddle.

Its that time of the year when the barometer is constantly on 'Variable', my bikes always filthy, and if you go out without mudguards and a jacket you're asking for a drenching.

So I had a good day in the sun. Good enough to further my tan. And when I'd had enough of gardening and watching my bike dry I read a bit of book. Awesome. But what topped it all off was finding a free cycle touring magazine on line. Now that I have decided to give up my job at the bike shop and fix the old house for a living Adi has told me that I can no longer subscribe to 'Adventure Cycling' a US touring magazine. And if that wasn't bad enough (actually not that bad because there's too much American stuff in it.) I can no longer be a member of the UK cycle touring club! (Now that hurts.)

But now I have found a new cycle touring magazine that is cost effective (since its free) and is written by people like me who have a passion for cycles and far away places!    

I just cant wait to click the pages on this one. Maybe one day I may even be a contributor.
Tomorrow I'd better get out on the bike and do some kilometers.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Work and Home Work.

Well that's it! It was hard to do but I have given my notice at work. In one month I will cease to be a part time bicycle sales boy and become another jobless person scratching a living from the land.

Poor old 'Potters-End' has been slowly falling down around our ears and its time I concentrated on fixing it up a bit.  So I have reinvented myself as a restoration expert and gardener. Since fixing the house myself saves us lots of money but doesn't actually earn us anything I will have to plant veges and Adi will have to keep working for a bit yet. I've told Adi  I can't start my new job as house renovator until I officially finish work as a bike boy. But today I started clearing more ground for vege growing because we don't want to starve next winter.

Clearing for veges is hard work and if your observant you will see that I have a man size bag of pick n mix sweeties to keep me going. One of the benefits of Adi working at the local grocery is a regular supply of good for me food such as pick n mix, chocolate and cheese flavoured chips. I'm always the first to greet my girl when she rides up the driveway after work. Adi's boss Jim is pretty up there when it comes to making my life a pleasure as well. He often donates a block of chocolate or dated frozen goods to the Potters-end  pantry.

Now I'm smiling because I've found a licorice allsort. My favourite.

Apart from giving up my job and clearing part of the garden for self sufficiency this week, I have also collected more bicycle equipment for next years cycling adventures. Because as tight as our budget will now be we will still have enough money for cycling overseas.

You may well ask yourself, "How can someone on next to no income still  manage to go on cycle trips in far off countries?"

Well I'll tell you. And most of you wont like it because you're probably already stuffed.

If you don't have KIDS , drive a CAR or OWE lots of money you don't need that much money to survive. And when you do go on holiday if you cycle and camp all you need to pay for is food and a tent site. So there you have it. It's not rocket science and I had it pretty well worked out by the time I was 18yrs old.

As you can see from the photo of my beloved Mercian, this week I got the four pannier bags, racks and other small bits of touring kit. I did have old touring bags that I used on touring holidays prior to using BOB trailers but these old bags are really past their use by date now. And besides I've always wanted black bags because they match everything so nicely and also allow one to blend into the countryside in  a traditional quiet sort of way. No fluoro touring for me! I've got a lovely Brooks handlebar bag just to finish it all off nicely. The idea is to have plenty of bags but not to put too much in them. A well balanced bike with little strain on racks is the desired effect. Early next year when I'm packed and ready for the road, we'll see how light the whole thing is!

I've got to go now the rugby world cup is on and I should watch it even though I don't give a toss about rugby. I do like a bit of national pride. And the chance to beat the Aussies at anything.