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, 3 November 2013

A New Focus.

So we have been back from Canada for a number of months and I haven't until now put pen to paper. While away I was blogging every few days and I suppose I needed a bit of time to get over the tour across the Canada's, a chance to clear my head before detailing day to day events again.
My head for writing may have temporarily left me, but my enthusiasm for the bike certainly hasn't this time around. While away I decided that I would definitely focus on long distance cycling on my return. I decided that I would make my new priority the Paris-Brest-Paris event in 2015 and I have put the ball in motion since I have been back to slowly get myself ready for that.
Initially on our return a number of important issues needed to be addressed. Firstly and fore mostly I needed to confirm that Mike & Joe at 'Avanti Richmond' still wanted me to work in the weekends. Cycle touring may be a thrifty form of holiday travel but 2 1/2 months living overseas still doesn't come that cheaply, so we needed an income on our return to pay it all off. Adi's bosses also needed her back so kindly re employed her. My beloved Mercian and Ken the cooker were next on my list for 'not negotiable' attention. Ken needed his third leg re brazed on, and the Mercian needed a new set of retro campag wheels constructed to replace the ones that self destructed in New Hampshire. I think it's important when running a retro everything machine , that you have at least 4 sets of wheels available at all times. Well actually its best with retro bikes to have n +1 +?. Where n is the part required on the bike for its operation plus another identical or better part in the bike shed. ? is another part that will do the job currently being searched for on line because you can never get what you need straight away. And frankly, lets face it, its fun searching and bidding for these priceless treasures.
Isn't it a funny thing that women really don't seem to understand this. And I can tell you that when my Adi reads this she will immediately think, that, because I'm "wasting all this spare change on old bike parts" that she can then justify tripling her contribution to the SPCA or Soi. dog in Vietnam.
Do our non fanatical biking partners not realise that we need these choice parts and not so choice parts to keep our and their bikes going!
Of course this reminded me that Adi's back wheel had fallen to bits in mid Canada as well, taking a lovely retro Italian rim with it. So I rebuilt her another set on our return.( But not Italian for her this time.)
Hey, hey , don't you think that. Its just that Italian is wasted on Adi, she really doesn't care. Shimano will do her proud.
Spring Festival Time.

Once again I digress. I decided while cycling each day in Canada that upon my return I would not only start doing longer rides but that I would join the Audax UK club, Kiwi Randonneur Club and the local cycle racing club, (Tasman Wheelers). I wanted to join AUK because they have a magazine, a wealth of knowledge and most importantly a long list of badges that I can somehow go for. This was important to me because in my younger days I must have been the only boy cub or scout that never got a badge. My crowning achievement coming not in the scouts but in of all things swimming club where I was awarded my aqua bear 1 badge for putting my head under without drowning. ( I since left that club without ever learning to swim). Later towards the end of my time in scouts I do recall getting a first Aid badge for putting a medical kit together.

Just in case anyone is wondering, the wet mark on the concrete is from me rinsing my mug.This randonneuring is thirsty work.

I will tell you now that I am committed to putting that embarrassment behind me by going for every conceivable cycling distance in the Audax UK club and achieving it. I will collect those badges and proudly peruse them when I know non of my cycle racing friends are looking.
Which brings me to why I have decided to re join the Tasman Wheelers. The bottom line here is that 'I miss them'. I've been out of the club for probably 7-8 years and I feel like I'm losing touch with the good old local roadies. It's true that most of them are totally dependent upon their cars, are never found cycling more than 50kms from the centre of town, and think that if they were to cycle on gravel road the metal could open up and they would never be seen again. But they are passionate about cycling in their own way and know how to suffer on a bike as long as the weathers fine, there aren't too many hills and they can drive home afterwards and have a hot shower and a glass of wine. And there's nothing wrong with that.
So I will race with them on my Adi's road bike. A bike that I will probably never mention again since it is made from some form of plastic fibre. A bike put together by someone who couldn't care less about cycling, in a country that regards cycling as something that only poor peasants now do. A country that will measure its wealth by how many citizen's can afford a car and the time to sit in gridlock for hours each day while breathing everyone else's exhaust fumes.
By Jove's it is easy to pedal though, and it would be pretty easy to justify cheating on my Mercian once a week if I could afford an Italian one. But if I ride my Adi's one its not like cheating at all because its not mine and I have no emotional attachment to it. The racing should also help my PBP preparation as I will have reason to shave my legs thus reducing drag over long distances.
I am joining the Kiwi Randonneurs club simply because its there, and I will need to complete a number of their long distance events to qualify for entry to the PBP 2015. I cant get badges from them and they have no magazine. In fact I'm under no illusion that on a number of the events I enter next year  may only have Adi and myself in them.

Look. No Batteries...
and 94% correct.

In true retro long distance style, I have my weather station out each morning and upon dialling a favourable daily forecast have already notched up a few 170km rides
Made in the UK. Hence a lot of Predictions involve Rain.

So there you have it to date. A new quest is on the horizon and I will blog as I go. 2015 hopefully will see me qualified and heading for Paris to compete. And being in the Antipodes, such a long way from Paris, means that I wont go all the way there just to do PBP. No. A tour of the Baltic beforehand might be the go. Nothing like a decent tour before the event to knock you into shape. Maybe up to the Arctic and cycle to Paris??

In the next week or so those Brits at AUK should get around to sending Adi and my entry pack out and I can study all the rules and regs set out in the Audax handbook. I will swear my allegiance to The Queen, Country and riding my bike over great distances unsupported. I will promise at all times to have my mudguards properly fitted and not to ever swear at an old person.


  1. You are right I can't see the difference between Italian or Shimano componentry as long as it does the job. As for spending money online, $25 for a material badge doesn't compare to $25 a month that will save 4 dogs lives.

  2. Hey, that wasn't just any badge. That badge had the Campagnolo logo on it and came with not one but two free frame stickers! Priceless really.

    It's true though that you don't get that warm fuzzy feeling that you do when you help an abused animal. You are a truly good person and I am a bastard, so I pledge to fix your bike for nothing for the rest of my life. It's the least I can do.

  3. This is really nice post , thanks for sharing this.
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  4. Hi Neil,

    Looking forward to meeting you on some our rides, and joining you in Paris in August 2015. Should be a record sized NZ team there if early commitments made are followed through.

    Kiwi Randonneurs are most interested in receiving your badge designs :)

  5. Thanks Craig. I'm committed to work at the bike shop during the weekends so haven't attended any club rides. However that doesn't mean that I'm not out there during the week clocking up the kilometres. At the moment I'm training for the Kiwi Brevet. I have a pass at work for that event and also for the qualifiers I require for PBP. So hopefully you will see more of me in the next year. I'm also looking forward to joining the new club when it moves along to that stage.

  6. Its a good experience and it has very interesting description.thanks for sharing.
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