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.

Monday, 27 October 2014

To the Arctic.

Home life is never dull for 'Niel the Wheel'. Having returned home after completing my PBP pre qualifier my Adi informed me that she was going to do the Trans American Cycle Race ( called the TransAm for short) and then fly to Europe to follow me in the PBP before then doing a European cycle tour with me. 

Now like most people I dream from time to time that I can fly or save the world using my super powers, but most of the time, while my eyes are open, I would say that I'm a realist. As a realist I quickly saw this as a desperate attempt to be involved in everything cycling for 2015 with absolutely no way of financially achieving any of it.

I couldn't quite get my head around it all at once, having completed the 400 km 

event and then scootered back from Picton,I was a might groggy up top. 

I could see that Adi needed a goal, something achievable so I strongly suggested that she pick either Europe or the US and go for it. A wonderful fun filled cycle tour with me or a frantic slog across the US with only her bicycle for company. Of course she chose America. I should have guessed that shantytown America would top Paris every time.

So be it. I'm  proud of her for wanting to go out on her own . She always has been more competitive than I am and the thought of a racing / touring mix proved too strong for her. I'm excited for her and will follow her from the comfort of our lounge. It also means that I can look after the house and our 3 boys while she's gone. 

But most of all it means that I can plan my own cycle tour immediately after the PBP that has all the things I like in it. Namely hills , tunnels, and tough and slightly isolated terrain. Now Adi has told me that I am not allowed to further my adventures in Eastern Europe and Asia without her because we both want to do that. And I'm not suppose to go anywhere she hasn't been and wants to go because I'm already a bit ahead on countries due to my Sth American adventures. So things were looking like the med and South until I hatched a plan to go somewhere that I knew Adi would never want to tackle. 

A  place full of huge bridges, long tunnels, mountains, biting insects, rain, more rain and long slogs between towns. O and maybe a bit of snow in the late summer. Sounds good you reckon? Not to Adi. And that's why she has given me the green light to cycle from Paris to Honingsvag and back. 

Honingsvag is at the end of the world and a prettier place would be hard to find. It is situated north of the arctic circle and will mark my turn around point. Assuming I survive my pedal to Honingsvag I will then turn my wheels south through Finland and Sweden back to where my balls can thaw out in Denmark. The only thorn in my tyre over all this is the annoying fact that the PBP event doesn't start until the 16 August  and so I can't start my passage north until after this. ETA at the top of the world will therefore be in Autumn. 

If there is anyone reading my blog (such as this person) who lives in Hammerfest could you please tell me the likelihood of me completing this little jaunt north of you, and returning with all of my fingers and toes un-frosted . I can probably afford to loose a toe or two in each foot. My cycle shoes will then fit better. But I'd rather not loose too many fingers. Google tells me that you lucky chooks in Hammerfest are today enjoying a balmy autumn day of 3C falling to 1C tonight. My drink bottles won't freeze then. 

Adi is a dear, she is so keen to send me off to the arctic next year that she has already completed my itinerary and signed herself up for the TransAm.

Thermals , that's what I'm going to need. Lots of thermals. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Eat Me Out Of House And Home.

I  spend all my time dreaming about cycle rides and pretty girls. 

While I ponder gear ratios and spoke patterns those hard shelled little bastards are eating my house. Season by season they munch away trying to drill out my weatherboards like a 1970's break lever. I know they feel they are doing the right thing, rimu weatherboards are over engineered for their intended use. But as with brake levers I now prefer the smooth unadulterated look. Those little cannibals can piss off ,before my hair is blowing in the breeze while I sit on the couch.

But how to get rid of the little sods? How many holes in a weatherboard constitutes a replacement? One? Ten ? Building supplies staff weren't entirely sure on this one so I came back with mixed opinions and a saddlebag full of preservative and insecticide. I'm resigned to buying new boards where I see a grouping of holes (something resembling a borer village) but I can't see the point in replacing a whole board for your solo dweller. And I have done my homework. I have it on good knowledge that the little humpbacks can hide in there for up to 3 years so if I slosh enough deadly poison on those boards I take off , paint them all over and store them in the bike shed after 3 years cooling off they should be good to use again? Slosh , paint and squirt , that'll do it.

It's simple really, I just have to treat and replace boards quicker than the little dears can eat them. Should be easy.

My smart phone tells me I'm going to have a wet 400 km ride on Saturday. It seems very convinced that I will be a wet puppy. But I won't have a wet arse because if the heavens darken tomorrow I'm putting my mudguards on. Function over fancy any day .

My First Proper Audax Event.

The day is drawing closer when I will attempt my first 400 km event with the audax club. Last week my Adi and I had arranged to do a local 335 km circuit as training for our respective attempts at the 400 km event. We chose different days so that we could each ride it in our own way and also should either of us crash and burn then the other was at home to feed the fur babies and initiate any rescue mission required.

Being forever the gentleman I let Adi have first crack at it. She started with gusto at 4.30 am and had completed the hilly first third of it by morning tea time. I read on face book of her adventures while on the couch with my coffee and chocolate. By afternoon tea time she was still on track having fended off attacking magpies and battling a strong headwind. I sipped my coffee all the time wishing I was there. She was so lucky to be out there doing it! Here I was stuck on the couch reading all about it on social media like some sorry person. By dinner time and with the sun going down Niel the Wheel had just returned from the fish & chip shop to read that Adi had suffered mechanicals in the dark and had called it quits at the 235 km mark. She was apparently sprawled on the plush duvet of a Havelock motel awaiting the owner to deliver bubble and sweak. It now being late and with Adi arriving in a somewhat bedraggled state the owners did all they could to revive her. Next day she arrived home having completed the final 100  km of the journey. Looking a might glazed in the eyes but with a smile on her face she seemed to have not suffered in any other way. But looks can be deceptive , she had returned a changed woman. She was now in no doubt about the Paris Brest Paris. She said "you can stick getting up early and riding through the night, I'm not having a bar of it!"

The next day 'Niel the Wheel' was up ,not so early ,for his attempt at the 335 km around the block. Things went crocked right from the started when my preferred cycling app switched off 30 kms into the course rendering my later posting of it pointless. You can't brag about stuff like this if you don't have the stats to back it up. In the dark upon leaving I had also forgotten to start my cycle computer. This was a small thing discovered when I passed under a flickering street light. I'm not a morning person and little things like this can annoy me. As the sun came up I warmed to the ride and come morning tea I was ready for the magpie infested Wairau Valley. 

Bandits at 3 O' clock high! Bandit at 6 O' clock coming low and hard! The little shits had me on the edge of my seat for 90 kms. The finally came with one of the feathered cretins forcing me off the road and into a drainage ditch with his persistence .  Clearly he was enjoying every minute off it. I dragged my Mercian back to the road and cycled off into what was now a solid headwind being further attacked until he spied a novice tandem couple coming the other way and clearly felt he could inflict more damage hassling them. Leaving me in peace to tackle the headwind to my late lunch stop. Electronic data transfer once again let me down here and for the rest of the afternoon when I tried to post my experiences on face book. Poo Bum, 2/3 of the ride was done and I had failed to tell the world about it. 

While eating a plate of greasy fish & chips I consoled myself with the fact that bike and body were ambling along happily even if the wi if side was shit. While stuffing down my final greasy chips with the help of a double vanilla milkshake I made one final attempt to post something on the net and voila I was back in business. The final 4 1/2 hours of the ride was completed in darkness. I'd recently bought a Cateye 1200 front light though and the beam was so impressive that apart from almost throwing up at the top of a steep climb ,when my milkshake began to mix with the coke at the other end of my stomach , I thoroughly enjoyed the dark hours.

I dragged my now tired arse across the home doorstep we'll before midnight and having completed the 335 kms.

So I sit here now awaiting the actual event in 3 days. My marching orders have arrived via the randonneuring club and Adi has once again reasserted that she won't be doing it. The field looks like numbering less than 10 and the weather at best indication gives light rain. 

I've done my homework for this one, the cabins booked and my mudguards will be on standby.

Bring it on.