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.

Monday, 7 November 2011

I think I've Stuffed My Cell Phone.

When I first started cycle touring we didn't bother with cell phones. In fact we didn't bother much with communication at all. We sort of got on our bikes and disappeared off the radar  between generally 2 to 8weeks. However in the really early stages of my cycling life, when I was 12years old (that's 4 or 5 summers younger than some of the competitors on the Global Bike Race), we were required by our parents to phone home every night and had to find a phone booth to do it. In those days you could find a phone both pretty much anywhere.  The receiver had generally been cut off and some one's dysfunctional kids had usually jammed the wrong size coins in the slots making it useless.

So phoning home was a pain in the arse. Often requiring more effort than cooking a slap up meal of baked beans and sausages.

Well some things never change. Phoning home on my little trip a couple of days ago was also nigh impossible in the 21st century.

Setting Off.

As mentioned in my previous blog I set myself the target of riding my 3/4 loaded touring bike the 210kms to Westport and then back the next day. These ideas always sound pretty good when they go through your head. But the problem is once you have mentally said, 'ok Niel lets go with that' you have made a commitment to yourself and if you don't do it you feel like shit.

Well firstly the weather for the week wasn't looking that flash and Westport is situated on the incoming front side of South Island, NZ. And secondly once I'd loaded up the bike with the low rider bags , Brooks handlebar bag and full rear saddle bag, M.U.M was feeling pretty chunky.

Knowing that Adi wouldn't like what I could turn into if I didn't go, I took what I thought was the lesser of two evils, grabbed a sunny morning and headed off.

Thirty kilometers into the ride and the sun was gone and things were looking decidedly grey.Well the next 100kms can only be described as torrential rain. Not that warm either, as I struggled into the Murchison cafe and ordered lunch.

My mood was not improved by the fact that the only free range toddler in the place had  taken a liking to me and my bike. Luckily for me I had a wall with a pane of glass between me and his food caked face. Ignoring them has always worked in the past and it didn't fail me this time except that his attention immediately shifted to my bike. After about the 4th attempt world child no. 6billion, 900 million and two, managed to pull my bike on top of himself. Well at least my chain got a wipe and it was a soft landing for my Mercian.

The afternoon cleared up! I rolled into Westport in pretty good time and got the coffin tent up after downing dinner. Usually on these sorts of rides I find the first day  is OK but its the next day when you have to ride another couple of hundred and the third day that things get really grippy. I have to say on going to bed in the coffin I was feeling pretty smug. I thought just 210k's home tomorrow and I can feel happy with a 620km week.

Luckily I wasn't so cocky as to sleep in a bit. Because being a reluctant cyclist I can easily sleep in. No, I was on the road by 7.30am . Luckily I was because it was one of the most unpleasant 210kms I have ridden!

Before the Storm Hit.
I loaded a soaking tent onto the bike (after heavy overnight rain) and a wet sleeping bag which had absorbed a kg or two of water due to the coffin like nature of the tent. ( You are never far from nature in that tent). The first 5kms of the ride were not that bad with just light to moderate rain. The next 215kms can best be described as living hell alternating between driving rain, driving hail,and just bad driving from logging trucks and stock freighters. (Where I think the IQ of the driver rates not a lot higher than that of his passengers).

I love the Brooks gear on my bike. If you read my blog a bit you will know I 'm a Brooks man. But I have to say you have to be a pretty enthusiastic type to ride your Brooks stuff in conditions like that.

My leather bar end tape absorbed there own weight in water.
My leather H/Bar grips absorbed at least 3 x their weight in water and threatened to expand to a point where they popped off the end of the bars.
Leather saddle, ditto, even with its nylon cover.
My H/Bar bag topped things off by not just doubling its own weight but soaking my cell phone making it impossible to call home for assistance.

I wouldn't actually have phoned home for a lift because its against my principles ( and anyway we sold our cars and the hobby kombi still has its engine on the bench), but it would have been nice to tell Adi the nightmare conditions I was cycling through.

One interesting point I've noticed in extreme conditions is that you often make pretty good time because to stop is to die of exposure. One other interesting point is that the Sam Browning catch on the Brooks H/bar bag is impossible to undo when your fingers have been in frequent hail showers for the last 8hours. So short of opening it with my teeth my bag was holding onto the cold fried sausages that I put in it. I think Sam Brown  must have cycled only in a temperate climate.  With frequent stops on sunny afternoons for devonshire teas.

In a couple of weeks I'll head out on a 10 day mission to the Lake Taupo 160  Challenge and will have a new net book to keep dry during that trip. Hopefully I'll have better weather. I'll certainly use a tent that I can sit up in. But not 'The Gay Girls' I want to save them for the trip overseas.

So not a tidy week but 620kms is 620kms. I feel happy with that.

No comments:

Post a Comment