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.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Time Between Trips.

Two days of rain in a row and I'm beginning to go out of my mind. Well maybe not quite but after spending the first day doing inside housework I am now getting a might bored. I have ascertained that I have enough coffee and chocolate to last another few days and luckily for me I have two cycling books that will keep me going. But I don’t want to read them too much in case I run out and the bad weather continues.

Adi has managed to get a week’s work so she is busy earning so that we can afford the two boxes of DT butted stainless spokes that I need to build our touring wheels up for Canada. Her toil will also cover the costs of such things as US visas and travel insurance. I mean that stuffs just boring. I'm looking forward to getting the spokes so that I can construct some retro wheels for her (to replace the ones that were nicked when her bike was stolen in Vietnam), and some ultra-retro ones for me. She'll be using a cassette freewheel arrangement but I'm opting for a screw on cluster type wheel system as I have some old Campag hubs and unused campag 36 hole rims I can use. The screw on cluster and chain for these wheels will be as cheap as chips to buy, and for the doubters out there I will cover myself by taking a spare freewheel body just in case.

I think after rummaging around in the bike shed I might have laid my hands on a 14-28 tooth (6speed)cluster that should get me over the Canadian Rockies (I don’t know for sure as I haven’t been there, but a 30 x 28t will have to do). Adi will get a 12-34 8sp cassette linked to a 22-32-46 chain wheel set.

 She's just spoilt.

Down Time.
The wet weather continues and in order to save my meager chocolate, coffee and reading materials I have decided to continue typing up my diary from the South American trip last year. (This should keep me occupied and reduce the number of daily coffee breaks).  I’ve been a bit slack at this. After every cycle tour we type the diary and then print it off with our photos. The whole lot goes into a photo album. The Vietnam trip has been done because Adi had input into it. She can also type with two hands at once making the process a whole lot quicker for her.

But I soldier on. The trouble is when one finger typing you tend to get RSI quicker. A break with coffee and chocolate. That’s the answer.

There's a break in the weather this morning and the sun is actually shinning. As the reluctant cyclist I have not quite managed to get out early enough to enjoy the sun. But I have managed to cycle  50kms of my proposed circuit on sealed roads dry. I find myself then as the weather once again turns wet with the option of carrying on into the hills and onto the forestry roads that will eventually lead me home or to turn around and ride back the way I have come. The road out was full of truckers, so I think my decision to ride into the hills along forestry roads in the rain quite an easy one to make. Things were going swimmingly when my gravel road was rudely interrupted by a sign saying "Road Closed, Cyclists Use Dun Mountain Cycle way". Now I have been trapped here before. What the sign fails to explain is that the Dun Mountain Cycle way is actually better described as the 'Dun Mountain, Mountain Bike Way'. Since I had between my legs a machine that definitely didn’t have 100mm of travel or 2 1/2" tyres I gave the sign the proverbial fingers and continued down the road.  I got at least 5km further on before the nice road construction man pointed me to a goat track on the right of the road. I was advised that that was my best bet now, if I wanted to see Nelson and my bed that night. I have to say I wasn’t especially impressed since in addition to not having the previously mentioned mtb attributes, my equipment also didn’t include gearing that you could climb lampposts with or shoes you could walk in.

I did have on board though a vintage primus and half a packet of biscuits. (Chocolate Chip even).

I may have finally got home after dark but I didn’t miss my afternoon tea.

Keep Left so the Sheep can Overtake?
I'm satisfied now that I  haven’t wasted the entire week around home. I can say that I’ve done a decent ride and finished the South American trips type up. This time last year I had just made it to the East Coast of Brazil, and if my memory serves me correctly I spent that evening riding to camp in the pitch dark as well.

 Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day.



Monday, 1 April 2013

Summers Over.

That’s it. Easter marks the end of summer for most Kiwis. Those not fortunate enough to be heading for the northern hemisphere have to now endure winter with temperatures down to 3 or 4 degrees centigrade overnight and with the cruel sight of an early morning frost upon awakening. Those New Zealanders silly enough not to have been riding their bicycles for the last year and thus spending absorbent amounts on petrol , now must put up with daylight hours reduced to 11 and be forced to listen to politicians bickering about how to squeeze another tax dollar out of those that still have a job to go too.

Easter also marks the end of the cycling year for ‘Niel the wheel’ who has been a good boy and clocked up 20,000 kms. In my mind this has saved me about 2000ltrs of petrol and at over $2 a litre that’s over $4000 dollars! If I add on other sundry motoring costs saved such as registration and tyre black (a clean machine is a happy machine), then I have saved enough for a return trip for two to Canada! I have decided that since Adi is such a good sport and since I missed her quite a bit when cycling overseas last year that she can come too. I will however make her promise that she will like it a lot more than she liked our recent trip to Vietnam. And getting her bike and all her gear nicked near Cambodia was just jolly bad luck. The tickets are all paid for and will be arriving in the box next week according to Di our travel Agent.

The bike shop seems happy to get rid of me for a few months to enable us to cycle from Vancouver to Halifax. As usual I have left Adi (my intrepid travel buddy) to plan the course since she can only then blame herself when things get a bit grippy as they inevitably do on a mission like this. I have great respect for Adi’s suffering ability though. Over the years I have witnessed Adi suffering on bike tours all over the world and she always comes through in the end and completes the mission. Adi knows that when she lands on foreign soil with me, and the wheels are slotted into the frames at the airport, there are no free rides until we hit the other side. ‘Niel the wheel’ and travel mates don’t get to jump on a bus here or a train there when things don’t go our way. Vehicle support is for sisseys.

And a Warm Welcome to our New Team Member.
This trip will be tight though with very limited wiggle room and a bare minimum of days off. I promised my boss’s at the bike shop that I would not leave until they got back from their mountain bike adventures in Whistler, Canada and we have to be back so that Adi’s bosses can go to the annual 4 Square conference. Please don’t ask what people do at a 4 Square supermarket conference because I have no idea. But I bet they have a good time on all that free drink and food. It certainly can’t be any worse than the local government conferences I used to be roped into where the highlight used to be a trip to the local oxidation pond or discussion on the best sort of composting toilet. I remember leaving full time work behind me and helping out at a Specialised bike shop and dreading an upcoming conference that I had been nominated for. Only to get there and after only a couple of hours talking about biking to be given a new model and being told for the rest of the day we’d be riding! I felt sure I’d have to pay for this on day two, but no, 2 hours of cycle chit chat and then we hit the road. At the end of it all I even got a framed certificate. Now proudly on display in the bike shed/ workshop.

Anyway I digress, normally you would build into a cycle touring schedule a day off every 5 days or so, but due to time constants at each end we will need to keep on schedule and the process will need to run like clockwork. It’s about 7500kms from one side of Canada  to the other and all going well I will pop out on the east coast with my travel buddy , albeit a bit slimmer , still at my side.

'Hoover it up Henry'
Really all we have to do is ride a consistent 140km every day while carrying our gear and camping as we go. In order to achieve this we have been regularly going out over the summer completing 120km rides. The cycle touring budget this year has been further stretched with an addition to our family at Potters-End.  3 leg Bob and Chicken Woo have now been joined by Henry. Henry was living under the house and doing a pretty good job at keeping all the meatier insects at bay until Adi discovered him and thought he might prefer life topside, or more specifically in my bedroom rather than under it. It hasn’t taken Henry long to settle in. Now though the cycling budget must stretch to housing not just ‘3 Leg Bob’ while we are away but also ‘Hoover it up Henry’. We are going to have to do a deal with the cattery or cat resort, as at $12.50 per day each, they are going to live better than us and we will need to mortgage the house to retrieve them on our return. I suggested to Adi that if we freedom camped and lived under bridges on our way across Canada, that would help pay for the boys to have their 3 star accommodation. I think she thought I was joking.

Luckily my Mercian is now always ready to embark on an overseas trip and I have rebuilt a replica of the bike that Adi lost in Southeast Asia. So there is nothing I really need to buy for the ride across except the usual consumables such as chains, clusters and tyres. I’m going to try to do the whole 7500kms on one set of touring tyres although I know that Adi will need a spare set as she will once again use 23c tyres in the interests of speed, and the lower resistance that comes with the skinny’s. The skinny tyres on Adi’s bike were a pain in the arse in Vietnam where I couldn’t get replacement tubes and the roads at times were muddy and pot holed. But I have to admit that on Canadian roads they make perfect sense. I’d be using them myself except that I have a new pair of heavy touring plus tyres in the bike shed just hanging there and I figure that by using them I free up my spare time to fix all Adi’s punctures.

I Fire up 'Ken' as the Tapawera 4 Square Staff Look On.
I have now mastered the finer points of my Dads Kerosene primus and have had it burning red hot on a number of day rides. I’m still not sure whether one of these could actually blow up but I am happy that it will cook us dinner even in a Saskatchewan gale. And besides I will be some distance away in the tent patching Adi’s spare tubes while she slaves over ‘Ken’ the primus.