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.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

101 Uses Around the Camp.

Women were made for labour: one of them can carry or haul as much as two men can do. They also pitch our tents, make and mend our clothing, keep us warm at night; and in fact there is no such thing as travelling any considerable distance, or for any length of time, in this country without their assistance…. Women though they do everything, are maintained at a trifling expense: for, as they always stand cook, the very licking of their fingers, in scarce times, is sufficient for their subsistence.

So said Francis Galton in Victorian times. My friends have occasionally asked me whether Adi is coming on my next cycling adventure. To which I reply “Of Course”.

Galton was referring to the need to have women in the party when travelling across hostile and rugged country. And although I don’t expect Canada to be too rugged I do expect that at times it could get hostile. With that in mind I could add a few other benefits that I can envisage, and would welcome Adi’s presence.

1.       In case of bear attack Adi could well distract them long enough for me and my Mercian to get away.

2.       Adi can go into Supermarkets to get grub while I ‘watch the bikes’.

3.       Waiting for Adi gives me time to sit and contemplate life, while enjoying the view among the mountainous stages.

4.       While in Saskatchewan I’m content in the believe that Adi will hold my bike in the absence of anything to lean it against.

5.       While I get the kerosene stove going Adi can be busy toting water and turning the tent into a home.

I’m not convinced that Adi could survive on what she licks off her fingers, and she is a mite partial to the odd motel or hotel room. But promising her a motel tomorrow works for a while. Quite often there isn’t a hotel or motel tomorrow and even if there is she will probably then be feeling in better spirits and not require the luxury.

One other reason for Adi’s attendance now springs to mind. That being that she has allocated sufficient funds for the trip by prudent budgeting and holds the said funds in an account only she has access to.

Welcome aboard Adi!

Not Cycle Camping but Most Definitely  Bring Home Breakfast.
Thomas Holding was apparently the father of cycle camping and of course would have to be one of my heroes. In 1903 he wrote The Camper’s Handbook. In addition to this he re-designed the Primus cooker to be more cycle friendly. The Camper’s Handbook is full of sound advice. I have offered to get Adi her own copy as I think she could well learn a lot from it. So far she seems rather indifferent to the idea!

Mrs F. Horsfield was one of Holdings female cycle camping friends and is quoted as saying that ‘camping is a break from domestic chores. Compared to dusting and tidying the various large rooms of a family home, the task of setting a tent straight for a day is minor, and the cooking involved at camp far less formal than at home.


Francis seems to have her head screwed on the right way and obviously proud to be involved with the practical side of the sport.  How little things have changed in one hundred years of cycle travel.

Two and a half weeks to go now and then we will be on the road again. It’s just as well as the winter temperatures are making the weekly training rides more of a chore they a joy. We still go out and knock off 100kms but usually arrive home just on dark with cold feet and fingers. The cold clear days make the coffee stop a lot more enjoyable however. The kerosene primus is fully tested and I am pleased to announce will be coming with us to Canada. I will smuggle him through customs by strapping him to the frame in the vicinity of the drink bottle cages. That way he will be more difficult to make out when the Mercian gets CAT Scanned at the airport.

Henry Has Settled In
In the last week Adi has discovered yet another kitten under our house! Two cats booked into the cattery was a stretch for the budget. I would have turned him away but having shown him the door I then discovered that my boy ‘Henry’ had taken a fancy to him. Well, all I can say is that I hope Henry really does like him because he’s going to be bunking with him at the cattery for the ten weeks we are away. The lady at the cattery said he could have a special, special price if he boarded with Henry and didn’t cause any trouble around the place. So there you go Henry, you could have had a suite with a view to yourself, but now you have a rowdy roommate.

Henry's New Room Mate.

Southern New Zealand has had its first dump of snow so I hope that Canada is now warming up. I’ll go on line and check the temps. Anything over 18C will be acceptable.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Dreaming of the Road.

It was a quiet Sunday at work today. The weather was changeable so there weren’t many weekend warriors or recreational types out. No punctures to fix or discussions on the merits of the new 27.5” tyre types.  The new 27.5”is of course only new to the newbies on the block and the Americans who named it. The French I think have been calling that particular size 650, for at least 50years now. At the end of the day though, we had sold a couple of bikes. It’s always nice to get bikes out there, and as the weekend man, to feel that I have earn’t my keep.

I also took the opportunity to mention to Jo (Operations Manager of Everything at the bike shop) that I had sort of double booked myself for Sunday 16 June. I was supposed to be working at the bike shop, and flying to Canada on that particular day. Luckily for me Jo’s not fazed by things like that and I was given the ok to down tools on that day and for the following ten weeks.

I came home with my two boxes of spokes. Tomorrow I will go down to the bike shed and start building up the touring wheels for our trip. I will endeavour to get the valve hole in the correct place in each wheel this time around. It’s not an important thing but satisfying none the less. I remember a few years ago prior to our across the US trip I decided that not only should I build Adi some purpose touring wheels but that I would build them out of free, odd length spokes from the bike shop where I was then working. I had to cut all the spokes to the correct length and then re-thread them using an old spoke threader they had in the workshop.

Well what a disaster. The threading machine was useless and although I half suspected this and had taken a multitude of spare spokes I spent ages in the Rockies replacing spokes that had stripped their nipples and poor Adi had to ride the whole tour on a wheels that were far from tightly strung. The wheels held together for the trip being loosely tensioned (and with frequent tweaking) but they wouldn’t win any medals for efficiency and on arrival back in go old NZ I rebuilt them with new spokes. I enjoyed riding across South America last year on them before they were nicked in Vietnam by some good for nothing bike rustler.

The across Canada route is really popular with cyclists so this is the first time on a tour that I can research others who are intending doing it this year. Low and behold, today I found a site where cyclists can register their intended trip!.........
Randonneurs in Canada

Check it out. Hopefully by the time you do I will be on it as well. It will be great to contact some of the others attempting the crossing. I’ve also found out through Googling that there is a Tour De Canada group starting only a couple of days behind us. And although I respect their love of cycling and commitment to cycle across Canada, and will of course greet them with much enthusiasm, they must realise that a ‘real’ cyclist carries all his own gear and does not need support in a car following.

Even as a school kid I didn’t need my parents following me around in the car.

I have decided after many years of cycling and after more recently Googling all the other forms of cycling that I definitely fit into the Randoneuring family of cyclists. I fit all of the necessary criteria;

1.       I like spending long hours in the saddle.

2.       I have no desire to ride around in circles in order to achieve my results.

3.       I don’t give a toss as to my time as long as I finish with my mates.

4.       I think people that ride in the rain without mudguards need educating.

5.       I don’t tend to mix with fair weather cyclists

6.       I think that a cyclist that falls behind should not be left behind unless his dithering will cost you your evening meal or shelter for the night.

7.       I think a bike that can’t carry a few essentials and is also too light to handle gravel, might be better melted down and turned into something useful like plastic cups. And by essentials I mean more than a CO2 canister and a cell phone.

8.       I need an excuse to visit faraway places.

Great Great Grandad Louis.
So to that end I will start to train seriously for the next Paris – Brest – Paris event when I return from Canada.  More importantly I will need to help Adi save for it by working tirelessly at the bike shop and refrain from buying too much bike stuff.

Monday, 6 May 2013

A Break From Tradition.

I’m breaking from tradition when I cycle across Canada. I intend this trip to take a handle bar bag. I had the thought a couple of years ago to use one of these and ordered one from the UK. But when it arrived, and I had had a chance to test it, I decided that if this was what cycle tourists had to put up with I didn’t want any part of it.

I’m not easily deterred though and have purchased another bag from a different outfit and am putting it through its paces for the next 6 weeks until we go.

Testing the New Handle Bar Bag.
The reason I need one of these is because my vintage kerosene cooker ‘Ken’ tends to fart and burp fumes to such an extent that I can’t possibly keep him inside my main bags. So whereas Gen Y probably keep their I phones , hair styler and sponsors pledges in their H/Bag I will be keeping my map, distance reader ,real money (saved myself) , and coffee making paraphanalia in mine.

For a short time when I was about 13yrs old I owned a H/Bar bag that had come as part of a set when I bought my touring bag combo. However before I had a chance to use it a school mate asked if he could borrow it for his tour and I never saw it again. He returned but my bag didn’t. Early lesson to ‘Niel the Wheel’ never to loan his cycle kit. He reckoned he had lost it. The H/Bar bag is suppose to hold your most valuable items, so how he could have lost it I don’t know. Later I heard that it had flown off the bars and he was too embarrassed to give me back what was left of it! It was a bit tricky to put on and Rex was a bit mechanically inept.

For those Born After 1980. A Map Reader Looks like this. (No You don't Need Batteries).
It is now the first day of May. Winter is officially here. It’s certainly not painting weather so work on the outside of the house has slowed. Slowed to a stop would describe it better. Cool evenings and rising electricity costs have prompted us to put an inbuilt gas heater into the South Wing. Since I can’t find a good spot for the Gas cylinder station I have decided to build a little shelter for them in the garden. A couple of bags of ready mix cement and some timber would do the job. As usual I thought one load with the BOB trailer would be sufficient. After purchasing it all at the hardware, and having got them to cut the timber to a manageable length I realised that the whole load would weigh close to 80kgs! The BOB trailer’s only rated to 35kgs. I figured it would handle 50kgs if I avoided all rough sections of road ( a tough ask in NZ ).  I ended up leaving 25kgs at store. The ride home with the rest was a ride I won’t want to repeat for some time. The trailer was difficult to control and it was rush hour on the roads.

Got Home Just on Dark.Can You See the Trailer Wheel?
Tomorrow I get to go back for the rest of it and build the cylinder shelter. What I really want to do is to get on line and register our Across Canada ride on the ‘Ride Across Canada’ website.