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, 23 May 2012

Swatting Up with Mitchell's Bike Mags.

Thanks for the welcome back to good old New Zealand from my friends. I know I slag kiwi motorists off a bit at times. I abuse truck drivers at other times. It’s not unknown for me to make the odd sarcastic remark when people ride on the wrong side of the cycleway, or for that matter cyclists who ride down the wrong side of the road (I mean what are they thinking???). But honestly I'm like that everywhere, and I am truly happy to be back. New Zealand is such a great place still.

We do really need to watch the overtaking on blind corners and crossing double orange lines though 'cause it can get you killed. And although we'd like to think we won’t miss the odd motorist they are people and they do have loved ones who care about them. They don't deserve to be squished. (They can’t help the fact that they are too lazy to cycle to the shop for sundry items like milk).

Sorry I digress. I'm happy to be back and I'm going to be more tolerant of idiots. But it has been hard re-adjusting this time.
Back Home on a Calm Winters Day.

Firstly the NZ sunlight was dazzling me. Even with sunglasses on I'm squinting at the moment to see anything due to the low angle of the rays. At 3pm in the afternoon I start thinking it’s time to get ready for nightfall and then 3hrs later the sun still hasn't set! The autumn colours and long shadows are very romantic though. Unfortunately with Adi in a moon boot and hobbling a bit, romance is not something that immediately springs into her mind. She's happy that she can now get on her bike and cycle down the driveway.

 The cat Bob is doing backflips. Not because he's pleased to see me but because he forgets he now has no back leg and the phantom pains cause him to do flips that any BMX rider would be proud of.

 During my first three or four nights back home I'd wake up in the middle of the night depressed and wondering where I was and how I was going to get out of whatever disaster that I’d dreamt up. I’m up early though ready to go. But then realise that I don't have to go anywhere and that it’s pretty cold. Last night my bedroom got down to 6.8degrees C. Now I think that that is probably below the world health organisation’s guidelines. My parents would have told me that it was good for me as long as I have a hottie and feather duvet (which I do have). I'm not complaining because our log burner does a good job, it’s just that our villa is not well insulated at the moment and my room is the furtherest from the heat source. (Adi's got somersaulting Bob for warmth in her room).What annoys me is the fact that the Government has promised every household $1300 towards insulation but in their great wisdom haven't used that money to reduce the cost of insulation material but have offered it towards the cost of employing installation contractors. I mean any idiot can install polystyrene and fibreglass batts.I don't need to pay someone to do it! Just make the products affordable!

 Sorry I digress. I have managed to achieve a few little things since I have got back. A length of guttering that I lay at the wrong angle before I left now has a new downpipe. A leak in the roof has been fixed (I hope. It hasn't rained since). A blocked soakage field and a water pump about to have a meltdown have all been tweaked prolonging the inevitable.

 I'd like to say that since I 've been back that I have jumped on my bike and powered around my 120km circuit in record times pushing the biggest gears. Not so. I've done the circuit but the results have been dissapointing. I think my brakes must have been rubbing, it certainly felt like it. My lack of form doesn't bother me because mentally I'm there, keen as mustard and I think it’s just the cold air and the low angle of the sun that’s upsetting me. that's it. It’s the low angle of the sun. Hampering my cycling style.

 While I was away cycling in Brazil I thought of two things I'd like to do on my return. Usually while I'm away from home cycling I commit myself to things on my return. Hours in the saddle on boring stretches of road start my mind wandering. On previous trips I’ve come back and done bizarre things like planting hydrangeas on mass (they look so pretty on Irish country roads). I have spent hours training climbing fruit trees (because the Austrians do it so well on their villas). Hanging baskets were the go for some time. (French shop keepers looked the part tending to theirs so I wanted baskets and window boxes too). Ocean kayaks were bought after weeks of cycling in a very hot area of Spain. On this trip I decided to join the Vespa club and VW club on my return. The idea behind joining the Vespa club was just to meet new faces. But I have an ulterior motive behind joining the VW club. And that is to get help in re assembling the kombi engine. I now realise I have forgotten how all those bits go back together. I have promised Adi a fully operational camper at some stage and it’s probably fairly important that I get the bits back together in the correct order. Without the VW engine I can’t get the kayaks to the beach at the moment, although I intend to talk to engineer Andy about a cycle trailer eventually.
My First Vespa Club Meet.(The Boys Swap Race Stories).

I think I may need some advice on basic VW maintenance or not so basic as the case here is. Please don't refer me back to one of my previous posts when I think I may have said that any chimp can put a motor back together. This chimp needs to be shown at least once. So to that end I think I had better start making friends with people that can tell the year of manufacture of any kombi by the shape of its indicators or lack of them from a distance of 300mtrs. It may be painful going to the "Shine and tell" meetings but I need wheels to transport my bike and kayaks off to far- away places.

 Mitchell’s brought over a bunch of cycle magazines that I missed while I was away. Vital reading if I am to secure myself a part time bike shop job in these tough economic times and during the winter off season.

 Campagnolo electronic 11 speed!! Who would have thought…..?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Back Home & Settling In.

The power of flight. One minute you're stuffing yourself at McDonalds on the Casablanca coast and the next you’re stuffing yourself at McDonalds at Sydney airport trying to figure out where a couple of days have gone and why they didn’t have McDonalds at the Dubai International Airport.

It was in fact totally unintentional that I was trying to eat two persons worth of food in Casablanca. As usual I had communication problems. I merely wanted a one person meal but with two Coca Colas. The two cokes in Casablanca came in my case with 4 McChickens , 2 helpings of chips and 2 sundaes. I did however with my fluency in the French language manage to get strawberry sundaes as opposed to chocolate. (I'm quite proud of that).

Once I'd finished stuffing myself I walked down the coast to the lighthouse and Second World War gun emplacement. I'm not sure whether the Moroccans were fighting with us or against us during the war but the gun emplacement certainly looked like it had taken a pounding. While there I re called some of the stories my God father and close family friend had told me about his experiences fighting in North Africa during the conflict. Apparently they fried their eggs on the truck and tank bodies. I think I'd even struggle downing one of these infantry eggs. It was too cold to sun fry eggs while I was on the coast and it made the thought of going home to a New Zealand autumn pretty easy to bear. I noticed while at the point that there was a naval cruiser just off the coast shepherding what looked like oil tankers in and out of the port a few kilometres up the coast. It wasn’t until later on the flight back to NZ, after reading the English papers that I realised that this rather featureless grey cruiser was in fact the newest and most sophisticated warship sailing the seven seas. Just commissioned and on sea trials in the waters of North Africa I was being treated to a show involving over a billion dollars of hardware and crew practising ship boarding’s. The article suggested I’d be wasting my time waiting to see a missile firing as each missile costs a million dollars and not likely to be performed without an A ok from the accounts department. (Each new vessel gets one test firing to check the computers and other electronics. I think that must be included in the price.) Following these sea trials the vessel was off to South America to say hello to the Argentinians. (I hope they arrive with all their gear intact).
Ya Missed Me! At the Coastal Battery.

The next day Mohamed was driving my bike and I to the airport for the marathon of a flight home. After a hand shake and the acceptance of yet another generous tip Mohamed was headed back towards the city and I was heading to the Emirates check in counter. This time I had the bike under one arm and a Moroccan poofy under the other. How so, the poofy you ask. Well I thought I had better get Adi a little gift for saving my arse when I needed it and getting me home, so a really romantic but practical gift was called for. Sure she’d enjoy jewellery or perfumes but what bliss to put your feet up on a goat skin poff. Once again my Mercian disappeared behind the check in counter and I was given all my boarding passes and my little luggage receipt. For some reason this time I had a little more faith that my Mercian would make the connections. The Emirates staff  looked a little more organised than the British Airways staff in Rio had done. I’d certainly be happy to fly Emirates again despite the fact that they had 200 movies on offer and I couldn’t find more than one or two of interest. I also got rather disapproving looks  whenever I asked for a rum and coke. Adi only later told me that she had booked me on a tea tottlers airline. (This reminds me.  I haven’t properly celebrated cycling across South America yet. So I will sort that tonight if Adi’s left me any grog in the liquor cabinet.)

I’ve noticed since I got home that I have been craving certain foods. Apart from drinking litres of instant coffee I have been scoffing multiple helpings of Adi’s sultana cake heated in the microwave and lovingly drowned in cream. I have taken to having porridge for breakfast, not too thick and thinned even more by the addition of a generous amount of cream. Jellies for desert have been a treat especially with the addition of cream to give them more body. Slices of soft white bread have been disappearing down my gullet at an alarming rate but not before they have been plastered with pre warmed butter of no particular brand (as long as it’s salty). I think my bodies telling me something. And I think that something is to fatten up for your next trip.
Together Again. I've got to Get My Girl ready for Vietnam.

And chocolate. I'm too embarrassed to tell you how much of that I'm eating. Luckily there's a special on 250 gram blocks at the supermarket. Currently these are $2.99 a block! Limit of 4 per customer! I got into a disagreement with the local library assistant yesterday when she tried to take $2 off me for a late returned book last Dec. Having just enough cash in my pocket for the new ‘Berry and Biscuit’ I wasn’t having a bar of that.

Next week I’m looking for a bit of part-time work involving bicycles. A bit of money would help finance our next trip to Vietnam and South East Asia. Hanoi to Singapore is the go. I have a Visa and Adi will need to test her new legs.