I’m sitting here on my favourite couch. The chicken’s been fed and the neighbour’s cat has had his three spoonfuls of tender roo meat (the neighbours are away in Aussie, possibly picking up some more roo meat for Chase). Adi’s at work earning money so that I can live the life I have become accustomed to. What I am not doing and had planned to do yesterday is riding my bike over the Tadmor Saddle, after which I was supposed to test my old primus cooker that I have made alterations to. Once again as the reluctant cyclist, I have had trouble getting out of the door. The weather is superb and I have decided that the Tadmor Saddle will have to wait until tomorrow. The weather will of course be just as nice. As a reluctant cyclist I soon learnt when we shifted to Nelson 20years ago that I couldn’t often use the weather as an excuse for not cycling.
Adi assures me that tomorrow she will hold my hand as I mount my bike and point me in the right direction even accompanying me down the driveway. She will head to work again and I will pedal south to test my kerosene primus. Adi will employ this technique later in the year when she will no doubt get me out of bed in time to catch the plane to Vancouver. This is a necessary starting point I understand for a cycle ride across Canada. But before then I must sort out a few things regarding my camping kit. My Dads 70 year old cooker is my first priority after I lost my 30 year old Optimus cooker last year in Vietnam. Last week I made a wind break for it out of an old cheese grater. This was a feat that quite honestly I think would be way beyond the abilities of today’s generation but came to me in a flash. I pride myself also in making an unused cheese grater fit when I could have more easily used Adi’s favourite grater. Once I’d got the whole thing together and had performed a test burn I realised that the old cheese grater I had used was also once owned by Dad. (My father scratched the date into everything he ever bought. Yes, apparently even a cheese grater). I also pride myself on searching the eBay site and finding all the spare parts I will need for the old primus, something the current generation could do if they only knew what to use the parts procured for.
|'Ken' Ready for a Test Burn in the Wilds.|
While cycling over the Takaka Hill the other day with a couple of friends on roadie bikes my kerosene cooker was never far from my thoughts. While my mates were concerned with their gear ratios and last fastest time I was thinking more about how the smell of kerosene from my cooker would permeate everything I own while touring unless I had a dedicated cooker and cooking stuff pannier / bag. While my mates discussed the demise of Lance and compared our individual weights I couldn’t help thinking that my parents probably poisoned me as a kid by running the kerosene heater constantly inside, and encouraged me to stand over it, breathing in the warm gases during periods of cold weather.
My parents weren’t the only ones responsible for trying to lower my IQ during my developing years. The motor traders association (MTA) were busy promoting the virtues of driving cars everywhere while polluting the roadsides with automotive lead additives. Unlike today’s kids I was expected to not only do well at school but also to get myself there and back under my own steam. This necessitated riding my bike while trying to avoid not only child molesters but also the older generation who seemed intent on running me down with their Morris Minors or Triumph Heralds. That’s if they couldn’t poison me with their exhaust fumes first. My parents can rest in peace but I think cyclists of the 70’s should take a class action against the MTA.
|When the Chips are Down Some Bikes Just Don't Pass Muster.|
While dreaming about all this, things had taken a turn for the worse for my mates who on this stinking hot day were discovering that the tarry loose chips on the road were sticking between the tyres and forks/ seat stays of their tight clearance frames. While their Cervelo’s and Colnago’s made expensive grinding noises my Mercian (complete with mudguards) purred on regardless. Once the reluctant cyclist is on his bike turning back is not an option. Their decision to turn back and high tail it back down the hill was understandable given that their equipment was clearly out of its depth. I advised them to nurse their racing machines carefully down the hill as one chip too many could result in utter carnage and continued on the Mercian to the top. Hopefully the squealing sound being made by their bikes masked my uncontrolled mirth as I disappeared towards the top.