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.