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.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Le Grand Arrivee'.

That’s it then.

The cycle computer clicks over to 7350kms and its all over. And I can’t say that it is a day too soon. There comes a time when you are sick of getting up each day and packing away all your stuff, taking down the tent and eating canned fruit and yogurt for breakfast. Only to have to get it all out again 130kms up the road, put up the tent and then repeat all those repetitive tasks that are the backbone of organised cycle touring. You have to be organised to ride across a continent as large as this negotiating all the hiccups along the way, never resorting to taking a vehicle ride and still managing to get to the end in time to catch your flight home. But for me I know that 6 weeks is generally enough.  The problem is that at times countries / continents are more than a 6 week trek across.

Halifax Harbour.
This will be my last post on this adventure. Adi and I are at the Halifax International airport and importantly not only are we still talking too each other but I know that there aren’t many women out there that could do what she has done in the last 9 weeks and still have the strength to lift their 23kg bike bag onto the scales at check-in. I’m certainly lucky to have nabbed her when I did back in 1983 and to have had so many cycle adventures together.

If there was a pedestal at the airport and a medal I’d stand her on it and take her picture. Then post it on the social media sites like all the others you see.  But you don’t get medals or grand publicity for this sort of achievement and perhaps that’s the way I like it. It will be a sad day when cycle touring joins that sort of circus.

But once again Adi, because I know you will read this, welcome to the transcontinental cycle club. No medals but you certainly deserve one.

O and what are we having for dinner tonight.

We confirmed our flights yesterday and were told we will have to pay an additional $50 dollars bike handling fee for each bike, surprise surprise. But what wasn’t anticipated was to find airport security busy trying to load the bikes into a van when we left the terminal building for the ride back to the airport motel.  Their dastardly plan was foiled by the weight of the bikes and gear and their lack of understanding on the dynamics of a fully loaded touring bike. They couldn’t make the quick getaway they normally would with a passenger’s baggage and had to admit defeat and tell us to ‘just not do it again’.

So that’s about it.

Back home to the more comfortable routine of home improvements, bike shop work, and because the Paris-Brest –Paris is on the horizon, a bit of randoneuring and racing.

I will need a racing bike!

I think maybe my retro Raleigh Panasonic with a new Shimano Dura-Ace groupset. (Hope the bike shop will take me back.)

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Atlantic !

Day 61ish.

So what’s been happening?

I rushed off to the bike shop in Brewer Maine to get a freewheel cassette and chain while Adi got ready for our 150km day to the coast. There were no problems there and I arrived back at the motel about 9.30am, put the chain and freewheel onto my bike and we were away by 10am. I have to say that I was concerned that some other problem would immediately appear with the bike so for the first 20km or so I took it very easy on the Mercian. We encounted a tail wind, but also according to Adi very hilly terrain in the afternoon. I didn’t notice as I was fully concentrating on cycle problems that could occur. After lunch my front gear cable parted company from the derailleur and Adi’s rear pulley wheels started clicking a bit, but neither problem delayed us.

By the end of the day though it was clear that we would not make the distance as it was very hilly and temps were up near 30C. An hour before dark Adi said that she had had enough and we freedom camped in a rest area. (The first official freedom camp of the trip.) Dinner consisted of a couple of filled rolls we had over from lunch and M& M cookies.

Ken was not working well and boiling the stream water for a coffee took seemingly forever while we were bitten alive by mozzies. Adi suggested that Ken’s jet was probably blocked, which I initially poo pooed, thinking that the problem lay elsewhere.

Later though I removed the jet and cleaned it. She was off course correct. Always check the obvious things first. Ken worked well for our breakfast coffee / tea.

Sort of. More a Tidal Estuary.
We were on our bikes reasonably early keen to finally see the coast and Atlantic. We were also keen to leave Maine USA and finally cross back into Canada and New Brunswick. Later after surrendering our US visas to, surprise surprise, a friendly US customs man, we were once again in Canada. There was still no sign of the elusive Atlantic as we headed up the coast towards St John.  Once again we couldn’t make the distance with Adi feeling suddenly ill. (My guess due to not heating the river water properly the night before.)  We shouted ourselves to a proper restaurant meal at premises in St George and finally, ON THE COAST.

The Bay of Fundy. Technically the Atlantic Coast. But Not Halifax Yet.
Five kilometres on we had the tent up in the provincial park campgrounds and I had replaced Ken’s jet with another new one from the spare primus parts I had in the tool kit. And wow what a difference! I should have put a new jet in him at the beginning of the trip! Rocket man.  Adi however wasn’t feeling as chirper as Ken, still suffering from a touch of food poisoning.

And now, the next day, I sit typing this up on the ferry crossing the Bay of Fundy from St John New Brunswick to Digby in Nova Scotia. This marks the beginning of the final day and a half of cycling to Halifax where we can look out at the Atlantic and know that the next point of land would be Ireland.

Eastwards towards Nova Scotia.
In 2007 when we cycled around Ireland we looked across the Atlantic westwards and wondered what Nova Scotia would be like. And now we are about to find out.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Bad Fairies Wont Leave the Bikes Alone.

Day 60 & 61.

The bad fairies will not leave the bikes alone at the moment. Having fixed Adi’s rear wheel and re gigging the trip so that we could reach Halifax in time to catch our flight home, we were on the bikes again. Confident that if we could do 150km days, we would be ok, and even have a day off in Halifax to look around and clean the gear for the flight home.

It was into the White Mountains. These are the last mountains separating us from the coast, and our view of the Atlantic that we have waited so long to see. The weather has been good and the terrain is easily negotiable, although Adi has had to toughen up a bit as the new freewheel that I put on her bike( with her new wheel) is higher geared than her last.

The White Mountain, New Hampshire/ Maine.
This is moose country and Adi has been scanning the forests at the side of the road for a sighting, to no avail. No moosees have been spotted. It’s good to be in the mountains proper again and the villages are almost European, at a stretch. Mount Washington slid by on the right and we started a slow descent eastwards. The evenings here are closing in and we are not yet at Atlantic Time, which starts when we leave Maine and cross into Canada again. Because we are doing longish days on the bike, and because I find it hard to get on the road before 9am, I have devised ‘ Adi & Niel the Wheel time’, and have put our clocks forward an hour anyway.

‘Niel the wheel time’ worked beautifully this morning, getting us away early and giving us an extra hours daylight at the end.

We needed the extra time today when bad karma struck the bikes again. This time to my beloved Mercian. My back wheel started to make the odd noise and on checking I noticed that the bearings were slightly loose. I was too lazy to tighten the cones on the road but did tighten the skewer tension to take the play out a bit. Vowing to tighten it up at camp tonight I carried on. As the day progressed the more bearing noise developed along with a notable rumble. Convinced that I would need to strip it apart and renew the cones or bearings I readied myself for this at camp. (No prob as I carry a complete rear axle kit and bearings).

Yes, Fixing Bikes in Motels Again. Well it Beats Doing it at McDonalds.
By the next 30kms things were sounding so bad in the rear end dept. that I told Adi that we had better look for a cheap motel and cut the day short.

I write this in the motel having stripped the hub down to find that the internal hub race has collapsed and the hub is essentially stuffed. New bearings, axle and cones won’t help this baby and it won’t go another 10kms in this state. It was lucky we stopped or it would be a long walk in the countryside.

One Dead Hub, in Improvised Bike Workshop.
What is even luckier for me, and not so good for the bad fairies plaguing the bikes, is that I have Adi’s old hub from the other days repair and all her spokes. So tonight I will build her old hub into my still ok rear rim with her old spokes and then all I need to find tomorrow is a freewheel and chain to replace my screw on one. We can’t afford any more down time. We have to fix it and do a 150km day tomorrow.

And all going well we will also see the Atlantic.  There are only four days of cycling separating us from the end. The bikes may drag themselves in but I’m sure mechanicals won’t stop us.
ps. That is not a motel towel under my wheel but a motel rag. ie some motorbiker had destroyed it before me and the motel offered it to me so I wouldn't do likewise.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Bang! Then Adi's Back Wheel was History.

Day 58 & 59.

Cycling through Vermont is a pleasant experience. The roads are quiet and the shoulder good. But most importantly the scenery is good. Historic towns and rich farm lands. By lunch time we had reached the capital of Vermont. Another lovely little town and full of great places I thought for a bagel or two with my coffee. We cycled past all the down town trendy cafes and finally stopped into a bagel and sandwich place on the eastern side of town.

Vermont has Choice Cycling.
Dark clouds formed overhead and while we enjoyed cream cheese bagels it poured down outside. I had been told that Vermont was full of interesting people and so I wasn’t totally surprised to overhear two seemingly normal guys at the table nearby talking about the concept of producing robots with human like intelligence. In fact the guts of the conversation was about planting your own mind into a robot so that you could live forever. They then started going on about their star signs and other out of this world mumbo jumbo in complete seriousness.

While this was going on an odd looking fellow started playing on the piano at high volume and the woman at the opposite table began berating her daughter who looked more like her sister, for spilling her drink all over the table and floor.

Piano man then stopped playing and started talking to some strangers, who had just come in, about how he had got a calling at home to contact certain individuals. But the interesting thing for him seemed to be that the message he received had not come via the internet but by some means of telekinesis.

The rain had stopped by this stage and starting to fear that I was losing my own mind I suggested to Adi that we leave.

It stayed fine for about an hour and then it poured again. Two hours later it was easing of but we were soaked.

The Courier has Turned up with Adi's New Wheel.

With only about a week and a half to go before we get to Halifax I thought that we had the Across Canada thing pretty well sewn up. Things however have suddenly got a bit challenging for both of us. The first challenge presented itself last night when doodling on the internet I decided to check out our ferry across the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. The ferry it seems was cancelled a couple of years ago by the Nova Scotia authorities in order to save money. Nova Scotia is somewhat insolvent it seems. Anyway this revelation had Adi frantically re plotting our route so that we could still make Halifax for our flight.

Proud of ourselves for catching this potential disaster and sorting it out quickly with a few longer days and another ferry crossing higher up the bay, we were then thrown another curve ball today as Adi started down a hill only to have her rear rim part company from itself and the tyre then to blow out with a bang. I was ahead at the time and having been notified by a motorist that Adi was in trouble, I cycled back up the hill to find the damage un repairable.

Adi gratuitously accepted a lift to the next town where we got a motel and I had my night of trying to figure out how to proceed from here. In the end the next day I got on my bike and cycled the 35kms to the nearest bike shop where I bought a new rear wheel/ cluster and chain. A quick chat to the mechanics at the shop and then I cycled back to Adi , put the whole thing together outside the local McDonalds and then we both cycled back east to Littleton, New Hampshire again.

Time at Camp to Save the Old Hub and Spokes.
A nice 100km day for me and a challenge along the way. Adi’s bike is once again running smoothly and in the time she had sitting around she has re-gigged  the route again so that we make the plane and do not have to spend the rest of our lives in Nova Scotia. (Once we finally get there.)

Tomorrow we continue to head towards the coast and cross the White Mountains in lovely New Hampshire.


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Hooked on Coffee and Bagels.

Day 54.

I’ve had enough fun now, can I go home?

No, O’well , please pass the M & Ms.

 Today started as a relaxing ride further along the coast of Lake Ontario. The day dawned with a clear sky and little wind, the expected storm not materialising last night. One hundred and fifty kilometres of bliss was rudely interrupted at the 70km mark when we went off course in Rochester NY. Rochester looked on paper easy enough to negotiate. The town was about the size of Palmerston North and our route went through the Northern edge.

Having lost our route and ending up in a pretty rough part of town I decided to work on getting through town using the compass. I put my head down and went east. Things continued to look rough enough for me to grade these suburbs as a 6.5/10. I would rate a 1/10 the sort of place where little girls with pig tails are running down the street with their pet puppy and shout hello to you as you sail by. I’ve never encountered anything worse than a 6/10 in New Zealand. And have only ever encounted a 7.5/10 when cycling in Lima Peru. That particular area of Lima I struck on dark, and was so potentially damaging to my health that I decided to stay the night in a hooker’s hotel, before I was mugged on the street. The next morning once I had plucked up the courage to go out it had improved to a 7/10 and I got out alive.

North Rochester continued to look bad, when Adi suggested we stop and check the map! Stop and check the map!!  What’s with that girl? We did have to stop at the odd street light and it was at one of these that a very pretty woman wished me a safe journey. Her actual words were “Go Safely” which was very nice but didn’t ease my mind much.

Anyway the compass never lets me down and we emerged on the other side of town alive and once again wondering how quickly the neighbourhoods can change in some towns.

It was a warm day today and humid. Thirty kilometres from our destination of Woollcott NY we rode straight into a fierce down pour that would have had us running for cover, had it not been getting late. No time for mucking about, no time for jackets. Once again, head down and bum up until we were through it.

Day 55.

I woke up this morning to find that my front low-rider pannier rack had broken. I really have had enough of panniers. They are good to ride with and you can balance the load well with four of them but on the down side they really can’t handle anywhere near the punishment that a BOB trailer can. This tour has been gentle in comparison to some of the journeys I have undertaken and yet both my front and rear racks have failed.  In future I will pay the extra on the plane to bring the BOB and then the worries will be over. In the mean time we have about 1300kms to go and I can fix the rack temporarily with wire from the awesome tool kit I have on board. That is the awesome tool kit that is so comprehensive that it has hastened the demise of the rack supporting it.

Adi awoke to find that she has lost her bike lock. It must have fallen out of her bag along the route yesterday. That’s really not a problem as there are more serious things she could have lost. But it has annoyed her and when she spotted a bike shop at lunch time she went in to buy a new combination lock similar to mine.

A Last Look at Lake Ontario.
It’s now 5pm and we sit outside an ice-cream shop trying to pick the combination on Adi’s new lock. Like a couple of beginners we have managed to lock her new combo lock without first noting the combination!  I take 70% of the blame for this. Well ok maybe 90%. She was having trouble with it so I did the male thing and grabbed it off her, since I assumed it would work just like mine. Well it looks a bit like mine but it doesn’t work like mine. I think she needs to accept some blame as she managed on opening the packet to obliterate the only English section on the extensive instructions. The bit that describes how to reset from the manufacturers no.

A wasted middle age around bike shops has taught me how to pick Chinese combination locks and within 15minutes I had it open, only to lock it again without first noting what hidden number some Chinese factory worker had set it too.

Getting better with the practise, the next time I had it open in 10minutes and had finally identified what the little scoundrel opened on. Nothing like what the French instructions said that it should open on. And for the life of me I couldn’t work out how to reset it.

At this point Adi rightfully grabbed it off me and said she’d use it on the number that Ying Shu Ping the 4th had set it to.

Day 56.


I have found myself in a Subway for lunch. Having fielded a couple of “Where ya going, Where ya cum froms? at the door and one Asian man with his family asking me directions to something. I now have to take a deep breath before I go through the hundred question ritual that Subway insists on in order to get my sandwich.

I only had one question to ask the Asian man outside Subway. And that was, “what on earth makes you think that I could anyway be a local dressed as I am in New Zealand cycling clothes and pushing a fully loaded touring bike onto the pavement?”

Once I’d run the gauntlet at the Subway counter and received my sandwich the counter man said that he could tell I was an Aussie by my accent and that he used to be in the navy on submarines. He had visited many countries including Aussie and NZ. Somehow I think it unlikely that he had visited NZ on a Sub but there you go. He certainly seemed to know all there was to know about Subs of one form or another.

I still rate Subway only slightly higher up the ladder than Pizza Hut. This was confirmed when he told me that they had run out of coffee for the day. (What sort of an establishment runs out of coffee in the US?!)  I have become quite addicted to coffee over here as it’s as cheap as chips and unlike soda pop I can limit the amount of sugar I put in it.

It is good to know that once the armed forces personnel have got sick of whatever they do that there are useful jobs available to them.

Day 57.

Leaving Tupper Lake, NY I was saddened to see that a lot of average country people have ride on mowers parked outside their homes. These mowers quite honestly look more valuable than the dwellings that these people live in. And I think I can safely say that if you see someone mowing their lawn in the US with a push rotary mower, then they must really be on the bones of their ass financially. Cycling by we saw one couple virtually in tears because their ride on mower had broken down, and I think from the look of their house they won’t be able to re finance to get another one. Just as they were contemplating how they were going to survive without a ride on mower a monstrous army helicopter zoomed over the house while on manoeuvres in the area. An army helicopter, that if sold on eBay, would probably get 1000 people off the poverty line. Friday seems to be ride on mower day, and you see amply cushioned men and women out all over the place mowing grass. Sit on Mowing seems to carry on throughout the weekend and I really think it must rate as a no.1. National pass time. It doesn’t seem that great for the waist line but it certainly keeps people focused.

Day 58.                    Burlington, Vermont.

One hour on the toll ferry and we were across Champain Lake and into Vermont. Burlington is our last largish town before Halifax, Nova Scotia. So we have taken a day off here for rest and relaxation. A visit downtown to look around and do a little shopping was relaxing for me but certainly not for the locals while I was there. Minding my own business while pushing my bike through the boutique area I was surprised when the couple pushing their racing cycles behind me had a mishap when one of their high pressure bike tyres exploded.

Well! What a bang. It must have been pumped to 160psi. What a pop!

The result in the built up street was priceless. While ‘Niel the Wheel’ is thinking W the F, the locals are in near panic mode. Mothers grabbing kids, others shout to friends to just keep walking quickly. Fortunately for me the shop I wanted to go into, busy a minute before, emptied quickly and I cruised in once locking M.U.M to a post outside. The whole trip has been very convenient like that, and what weekend warriors need with ultra-high pressure tubulars anyway is beyond me.

The First Signs of Autumn Colours
Tomorrow, and the last push towards the Atlantic and then up the coast of Nova Scotia to Halifax.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Not Another Public Holiday.

Day 47.

We cycled to Marine City on the US/ Canadian Border with the intention of getting a nice motel for the night before crossing back into Canada tomorrow.  Getting to Canada involves a short ferry ride across the river so we thought we’d do it in the morning after a nice sleep between linen sheets while resting our heads on feather pillows. But no. Marine City has no motels apparently. And only one bed and breakfast that charges $175 per night. Since that was out of our budget it was off down the river to the state campground which charges $19 per night and they throw in a picnic table. At this particular state park they also threw in Anne Marie an American girl who noticed my NZ top and came over to say that she and her boyfriend had cycle toured New Zealand last year. They Spent 10 months cycling around the whole country.  Anne Marie described her boyfriend as a bastard, although she very much enjoyed her time in NZ. She came back to the US without her bastard boyfriend and has now shacked up with a cycle shop man, and is shifting to North Carolina to be with him. So that can’t be all bad. Her new choice in man was beneficial to us as well since she seemed to have an endless supply of Lance Armstrong waffle biscuits. I suppose there’s no market for them now.

Day 48.

We crossed into Canada and cycled along pleasant country roads to the shores of Lake Erie. Easy cycling and nice sunny weather. Enough said. Nothing out of the ordinary happened today.

O,’ I saw a turtle. That is, one that was still living in the roadside drainage canals and had not yet tried to cross the road. I’ve seen plenty that have tried to cross the road and have come up short, or rather squashed against the American pick-up.

Day 49.

It’s a long holiday weekend here this weekend.  We found this out when we tried to register for a tent site at the Sand hill Park on Lake Erie. The nice autonom  girl at the desk said that they were full and we would have to cycle off to the next camping ground 20kms away! They really have no idea about cyclists and just want to get rid of you.  Well, this cyclist wasn’t born yesterday and with a few words to someone that could still reason for themselves and make decisions, we had negotiated a site with a picnic table for the outrageous sum of $40 dollars. Outrageous in the US but considered a good deal if you were camping in good old NZ, were a patch of grass with no extras will set you back  at least that for two.

Right behind our tent was the biggest sand hill in Ontario, but we didn’t bother climbing it because quite frankly we have bigger ones back home and we had done our exercise for the day. We just had time for a nice cup of coffee, to cook our dinner over the primus and that was another day dusted.

Day 50.

Day 50 and we had put our thinking caps on. Why the Canadian Authorities had decided to give the urban riff raff a long weekend every month was beyond me as the country surely needs to workers, and the non-thinking urban man must pay off his Pick-up.

 The accommodation thing had been a problem last night so we had devised a cunning plan to ensure we could get a tent site for the night. We had decided to head for the dumpiest town around that had a camping ground with the reasoning that no one else would want to go there. Our only problem was we hadn’t counted on urban riff raff man and his family. When we got to Dungville Ontario, the campground was full of young Boris and Doris’s with the 6 kids, dog, and you guessed it, Pick-up or two. (Of course they’d brought their drink with them).The camp ground had the odd free site and we were committed to stay, but that night was one I would rather forget. Honestly those people must be really desperate to pay $’s to spend a holiday night there.  As I said non thinking, and then they drink???

I can only liken it to setting up camp in the playground of decile 4 schools, where mum and dad have called in to drink up large and then stay over with the kids. The teenagers have then also turned up with their girlfriends and look cool saloons, and the picture is complete.

(Decile 4. Where 4 does not bare any reference to the school’s academic achievements, or emphasis on social skills)

I think the rest you can imagine. No sleep for us that night.

Day 51.

It was back into the US again with the not unexpected rude customs officers. I think made ruder by Adi calling them Canadians when they asked whether we were Aussies while looking at our passports. But really, would you want these idiots in uniform protecting your boundaries. The only thing these two had mastered was bad attitude. Not only could they not tell that we were NZ’ers while looking at our passports but neither of them could log onto their computers to check our Visa waiver. They didn’t take kindly to my suggestion that maybe the rest of their day would go more smoothly when they work out what their login codes where. Neither were they overly chuffed when Adi took  her time going through the security gate that they had finally buzzed open.

It must be hard being the most hated beaurocrats on the planet. Right up there with the Inland Revenue Department.

Day 52.

A day off the bikes to look around Niagara Falls. It’s a lovely day to be in New York State and we are camped 15kms away from the falls so ½ an hours’ ride on the bike will get us there.

The weather is sunny but my disposition is not after an argument with Adi over who will cart her cycle shoes around the falls park for the day. She got the pleasure of carting her shoes around and I was in a cloudy mood for the day. The falls were impressive but don’t expect any together pictures, no romantic shots for the grandchildren to peruse when ‘Niel the Wheel’ finally meets his maker and has to explain why he didn’t reach his full potential.

You’ll just have to put up with some bloody good pictures of me and one or two of the falls and ‘Spirit of the Mist’ (which we didn’t go on because that sort of thing’s for happy couples).

We are both at the stage of the trip where we are sick of putting up with things and want to just complete the mission and get back to our own little patch of the world. A place where the big news is drunk and disorderly rugby players and how many people haven’t invested in the latest state asset to be sold off.

We’ve got the last haul through a few US states and then on to Nova Scotia and the Atlantic Ocean.


Camped on the edge of Lake Ontario tonight we are battening down the hatches after being told there is a storm alert out. We could be expecting thunderstorms high wind and hail. When the lake looks misty the weather can, we have been advised turn ugly. It was a lovely sunset though and the days cycling that brought us here was rural bliss once we had left the dumpy city of Niagara Falls. And if you think that Niagara Falls is a pretty place then I would suggest that you took the tourist route in and out along the interstate and not through the outer suburbs as you have to do on a bicycle. Bicycle travel gives you the uncensored view of most cities. Cycling through suburbs where the poorer people live before you get to the touristy bit is quite an eye opener and contrast in a lot of overseas cities. That’s of course if you make it through the outer suburbs. A lot of the people living on the fringes get such a shock at seeing a strange cyclist riding past that they forget to nick your wheel bearings as you sale by.

I think the Americans need to bring out a little abbreviations booklet for people of other nations. I just get fed up with trying to work out what is trying to be communicated at times in this country.


I mean honestly, what the f…k does this say.???

Well I can tell you whoever you are that this means absolutely nothing to anyone outside of your immediate circle. And another thing to think about America; If you continue to take letters out of the English language because you are too lazy to put them in it won’t b lo b nob knw w t f u r talkin ab!

And I think this is REALLY important. So get real.