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.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Sweden and Time to Reflect.

So now I have time for reflection. After my couple days break in Copenhagen I cycled the 50 or so kilometres north up the coast to the ferry that would take me to Sweden. The coast north of Copenhagen is scenically pretty with expensive looking seaside homes. Unfortunately like a lot of Danish roads I encountered it was heavy with vehicles. It was a Sunday so maybe a lot of this traffic was weekend day trippers. The weather now ,had ,since Copenhagen , settled to fine sunny days. I took the chance on leaving the Danish capital of using a bypass to try to avoid the the main city streets as I went north. This all worked well and I arrived at the ferry without stress for the 20 min journey to my last Scandinavia country , Sweden.

The ferry dropped me off in a medium sized  Swedish city that I just wanted to get north through so that I could start my 5 day journey towards my final departure point, Stockholm.
I was stopped before heading across town by a cycle passenger also disembarking from the ferry and out of courtesy talked for ages about his quest of cycle touring one day. I thought I might regain a bit of wasted time by using his local knowledge of the city I was in to get north more quickly, but after spending ages following him and still not getting out of the wharf area I just bid my farewells , put my head down and headed inland as fast as I could. In an hour I was away from town and heading into the Swedish countryside. Another two hours saw me on smooth quiet roads the likes of which Danes can only dream about. Not another cyclist or cycle lane in sight. As in Norway , food premises seemed to pop up just when needed and invariably they would be Italian.  Pasta and lasagna for dinners fine by me. And just as in Finland, wild camping was just a matter of pulling off the road in the forests and finding a smooth ish spot to pitch the tent. In fact the countryside was very like Finland but with a moderate rolling nature to it.

I think some may have been put off touring Scandinavia by the notion that it is expensive here. But on reflection now having experienced every Nordic country and coming from New Zealand,  which is expensive, I feel that this is not the case. If you are the sort of cyclist that is happy to freedom camp at times a Nordic trip will probably cost you less than a campground tour through other parts of Europe.
On my 4 to 5 day cycle to Stockholm I freedom camped all the way, expecting to stay in a campground near central  Stockholm. My last night of freedom camping was I discovered in the morning , spent 2 meters away from a huge ants mound. The little fellas , of which there were thousands, didn't disturb me at all during the night even though they could have completely smothered the tent should they had wanted too. I was immensely grateful for that, so grateful that I gave them half a bottle of coke and a handful of m&ms.  They seemed to really enjoy the sugary treat and I thought it was a good partnership we had going.

With Stockholm in my sights I thought I had the whole thing in the bag. But didn't factor in that ;
1. The camping ground on the outskirts of the city clearly did not want to be found, by not advertising it's presence along the road as I approached , and
2. The effect big cities have on sucking cyclists in towards their Centre.
Before I realised it and even by stopping and asking locals, I had passed the campground that no one knew existed, and was headed on a non stop collision course with central Stockholm much like I had with Oslo weeks before.
No worries I thought. Map info and Internet searches showed a central Stockholm camping ground. Not as handy for the international flight home but good enough to stop me ending up on a park bench. Anyway after the predictable horrid ride into the central city the camping ground did not materialise. Darkness , approaching now at 7 pm,  put a slight pressure on , and passing a hostel sign right in the best part of town , I called in.
I don't like backpacking hostels, but a beds a bed. And I booked a couple of nights to give me a chance to search better accommodation in the following days. To this point I had effectively closed my Scandinavian circuit and had covered 7000kms. ... to be continued, the final chapter Stockholm.

Sunday, 20 September 2015


I've been cycling in Denmark now for 4 days.
The Ferry from Norway. 3hrs

The first day I cycled north to the northern tip of the country to see the seas meet and to also check out the WW 2 bunkers etc.

There are three things that at this stage in my trip I can say that I like about Denmark.
Firstly it is a very flat country. No effort is required to cycle along Denmark roads. That is unless there is a wind blowing. The wind does blow quite a bit but it certainly hasn't slowed me down. And having grown up in Wellington , NZ I'm pretty used to cycling into a gale or two.

The second thing I like about Denmark is that it is so far predominantly fine. I have had the odd shower but the sun has been out for longer than the rain has been falling. Something I failed to encounter on the east coast of Norway. My tan that I acquired in Finland is starting to reappear. I haven't though managed to get my training top off so my arms will maybe now have to wait for the New Zealand spring.
The final thing that I am enjoying here are the friendly people. But that they have in common so far with the Fins and the Norwegians.
In other respects to me Denmark does not feel like a Scandinavian country. The buildings are all made of brick giving it a more English feel.  And so far the countryside I am cycling through I would have to say is unremarkable.  If you are reading this from NZ then I could best describe it as a cross between  Foxton area and the Manawatu.  Beachside communities with wind, and pasture / grazing land.
Two other points that I have noted are that .. no its not any cheaper for a kiwi here as although things cost less per krone the exchange rate with the NZ dollars is not s good so it works out at about the same. The other point is that the cycle ways although everywhere, are just as much as a pain in the arse as cycle ways throughout the world. After following the cycle ways on my first day up to the tip and back , I thought I'd give the national cycle way no.1 a go down the west coast. Well.. I lasted on it for maybe 30kms before giving up in disbelief as I had me going round and about along forest and sand tracks and out to what seemed every deserted beach settlement.  I ditched it and started self navigating on the rural roads and within minutes had myself not only going in the correct direction but actually passing civilisation where I could get a bite to eat or a coffee and see the odd person to talk too.
The Scenery may not be Dramatic in Denmark but the Pastries are Yummy. 

Although there are more urban cyclists here, once you leave the towns you see no more cyclists than you would in NZ.  Maybe even less.
Maybe my views will change as I get closer to Copenhagen.  Time will tell. I am not freedom camping in Denmark. And this is due solely to the fact that I have slowed right down in kilometers covered a day.  I'm  limiting myself to about 130kms per day as I'm way ahead of schedule and don't want to kick around in Stockholm for two weeks. So doodling along at that rate means that although I don't get on my bike until 10am I still arrive at about 4 pm.  If I was to freedom camp I'd be having dinner at a town at 3pm and then sitting in a hedge row somewhere for hours until the sun went down. Freedom camping really only works for me when you have dinner at about 5 to 6 pm and then cycle for a few more hours , put up the tent and get to sleep. I think you really need to be doing 200 to 300kms a day for that. So it's camping grounds and hot showers for now. I'll reassess the situation when I get into Sweden.

Although I'm having to pay for camping grounds I'm not buying so much food as I'm not cycling that hard. It's all swings and roundabouts.
My next blog will probably be from Copenhagen as I will stop a day or two there to look around and do the laundry again.
Well I'm looking forward to another day of wind turbines and farmland tomorrow when I will be in Southern Denmark approaching the German border. Then it's a hard left turn for the Mercian and myself and northeast towards Copenhagen.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Three Acts of Kindness.

During my last two or three days in Norway the weather has been an absolute shocker. Apparently it's normal for parts of Scandinavia to get a lot of grey and rainy days in autumn. So I shouldn't be surprised by the weather. But where I come from the situation is reversed with calm stable weather generally in autumn and wet changeable weather in the spring. So it does take some adjusting to.
Anyway today I was chatting to the campground owners about using the drier to dry everything after last night's downpour and whether I should bother washing clothes as tomorrow the forecast is not much better and during the discussion I told them of course that I was from NZ and had cycled to the Northcape and was on my way back. They seemed interested and during the discussion we talked of Ed Hillary and how similar NZ is to Norway.

I went of then to start the washing and drying process and while fluffing my now dry sleeping bag the owners wife came in and said that the weather was going to be once again heavy rain tonight and that I could have their best room for nothing , as their guest !
What a great way to finish off Norway ! So now I'm writing this from an upstairs apartment overlooking the coast. Scandinavian people are very friendly and I think appreciate the outdoors and people who get out and make the most of it.

Just after I had received the key to my home for the night a German couple who I had talked to came over and gave me a bottle of beer. And wished me a good trip around Denmark. They were campervaning around Norway.
My third act of kindness came when I headed off to the local ten pin bowling alley for a big pizza ( because that's the only size they do) and they said they didn't have any boxes to take it away. So i said just throw it in a plastic bag and I'll get it too the campground some how.

They did that but on leaving the owners girlfriend said that she was off shortly and would take it with her in the car. Awesome !! I just had to follow along behind on my bike.
So here I am happy as a sand boy , as my mother used to say. And tomorrow I head down the coast to catch the ferry to the top of Denmark.
Thanks Norway for a trip to remember.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Norway Will Not Let Me Go Without A Drenching.

Since my last blog I have travelled south through the mountains and fjords on the west coast in lovely weather. 

Luckily for me I have seen some of the scenic spots on the west under sunny sky's.  The climbing around Geiranger was spectacular and the passes that followed. However it hasn't been without its problems. Trying t(o get to the Atlantic Coast road I had to negotiate some pretty bad tunnels in fact one of them was closed while I was in it and another was full of roadworks. Very sketchy. I met a Swiss cycle tourist who actually cycled into one that said that cyclists were forbidden and they closed the wIhole tunnel and the police picked him up , told him off and escorted him in their car out. I think my tunnel was closed for some other reason but I did not feel particularly reassured and the tunnel with heaps of roadworks inside and traffic was just plain horrible.

So anyway after making a slightly wrong turn I decided to continue eastwards over one last mountain range towards Oslo. Well, what can I say. I rode straight into shocking weather going over it with sleet and thick pea soup fog combined with strong headwinds. I came down the other side into driving rain ! The mountain just would not descend quickly enough and at an alpine town I had to buy another pair of gloves.

Norwegian mountains are formed by long gone glaciers so they are very rounded and don't drop away quickly. Whereas you can ride over a New Zealand mountain and down the other side quickly you tend to stay up in the cold zone a lot longer in Norway.
Anyway with the mountains done I thought I'd avoid Oslo as it is just another big city that traps cyclists and is hard to negotiate.  I tried with all my might steer the Mercian south of the city but I just couldn't manage it and with the odd error me due to roadworks etc I ended up on a collision course with the city that the locals told me would be inevitable.  Once you get in a certain valley in Norway then you just have to travel down it to its conclusion.  And in my case that was Oslo. 
After a long day in the saddle I had to get through Oslo as it is just too expensive to stop there in accommodation. 
I cycled out south as best as I could all the while being hindered by motorways excessive traffic and a puncture just when I didn't need it.
I managed to find a freedom camp in the back of a church ground, well more a cathedral by the sound of the bells and size of it. Feeling pretty smug I went too bed to be awakened during the night by torrential rain. 

Although this old rail trail may be nice for the locals, once again it proved a pain in the arse  for me. Once on it it lead me way off course and then just stopped without any explanation as to how to once again find the route.

Once again with wettish sleeping bag etc I broke camp and have had such a struggle getting away from Oslo ' s pull that I have only managed to get about 150km down the coast.  Nothing is straight in Norway. Travelling by bike is trying at the best of times when you can cycle  around corners for 100kms and travel only 20km as the bird flys but south of Oslo you also have to stick to the twisty coast because the bloody motorists have all the straight roads solely for their use.
I've booked into a campground tonight and tomorrow so that I can once again wash and dry stuff but I'm dreading what weather will be thrown at the little tent. The forecast is not good for the next 4 days so I may not see another fine day before catching the ferry to Denmark.
Norway is fighting me tell the end, but I will get down the coast and complete the mission in this country.
Hopefully my next blog will be from Denmark,??

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Norwegian Sun is Shining.

The cloud has cleared and the sun is shining. In fact for two days now there hasn't been a cloud in the sky. But boy do you know it at night. I haven't been cold actually in the tent but upon waking the temperature gauge on the bike parked outside is reading 4C.  And then both mornings I have been on the shady side of fjords so have been singing encouraging songs to myself as I cycle like a frozen Popsicle until the morning sun finally hits me. O what bliss when it does. By 10am the temperature has usually climbed to 10C , my happy temperature because there's no pain anymore. And then by 12 am it's up to 14C when I take off my legwarmers and try to maintain my tan. By 3pm today we were nudging 17C !
Today while having morning tea I saw the first cycle tourist that I thought could maybe be going my speed. And he was heading south like myself. The reason I thought that we might be able to travel together was because he had roadie type kit on and although loaded heavier than me he wasn't carrying the mountain of stuff that the less experienced people always take.

Anyway I finished my breakie thinking I'd probably catch him up the road and then headed out in pursuit. Well 10km up the road was a massive tunnel, with the option of the twisty cycle track alternative.  The tunnel was 9 kms long ! And had no DON'T CYCLE THIS TUNNEL signs on it. The alternative cycle way could have gone anywhere as far as I was concerned. Like cycle ways everywhere they sucker you in and  then just leave you high and dry. They're a bit like women I suppose. You never know how it will turn out. But you keep on trying.
Not this time for me. I had serious kms to do. So into the tunnel I went and onto the next town where I had lunch. And i never saw Mr Roadie tourer again. I think he fell for the old take the cycle way and we'll lead you into the mountains and then dump you.
I cycled on for the rest of the day and I'm now camped next to the prettiest bunch of rapids. I wasn't going to stop here but once I'd taken a few photos I thought why not. I'd had an early dinner and I can make my desired distance tomorrow easily I think because I've been slowly climbing today so tomorrow should be down for a bit. ( Famous last words ).
I even fired up the primus for a coffee and I've got enough Non Stops to get me through the night.

The problem with the dampness in the little tent continues however. I thought if I slipt my lower sleeping bag in a plastic liner that would stop it touching the tent and getting wet. But now what happens is it gets condensation wet ! On these clear cold nights I get condensation in the tent and on wet nights the bag  touches the wet walls of the tent drawing in moisture ! The answer I think is a fly. I have one at home and will modify it so that it covers the little tent and my bike standing beside the tent for the TransAm next year. That should help with condensation and rain.
It's cooling off now. Brrr.  I'll have to get up later for a comfort stop and to check out if there is a Borialis thingy.  ( Northern Lights ).
Now the Norwegian sun isn't shining again. In fact last night cycling into town for dinner after a 200km day once again the heavens opened up and I sat in the restaurant soaked eating dinner thinking, " I can't be stuffed going out after this to try to find a freedom camping spot. I knew there was a camping ground in town so once I'd finished eating I went off to find it and possibly even get another cabin. Luckily for me when I got there the reception was closed so I was forced to put the tent up. And also luckily I had a 10 krone coin for the shower.

I slept well enough and it only rained lightly through the night so I didn't get soaked in the tent. Come morning the reception was still closed so I took the chance and left saving myself 120 krone or $20 NZD.  The day sunnyed up as I rode towards Trondhiem and my feet were almost dry when , you guessed it, the heavens opened up again and I got soaked !
I'd just like my feet to be dry for a day or two ! The thing about Norway is that if it's not raining then the ground and grass are soaking from the dew or yesterday's rain. So unless you wear gum boots everywhere or drive a car to places you will get wet feet. Camping and cycling shoes do not make for dry snugly feet.

I have got to Trondhiem though and I'm taking a day off to go into town tomorrow nd look around.  Because this I feel is another milestone in my trip. I am finally on the bottom half of my map. I'll now stay on this south section until I go home. I also feel that just maybe I'm in more favourable climes. I shouldn't get snowed or iced on from now on, cross fingers.
I'm way ahead of my schedule so will probably head south into Denmark before swinging around and heading up to Stockholm.
I have to say that although the cycling and general logistics of this trip have been easy on my own I really do miss the company of others. I think for achieving personal  goals on the bike such as this trip and the Transam doing it alone is good, but for travelling in general , I think it's best if it's shared.
All washed clean from a day off the bike and ready to go again.

Monday, 31 August 2015

South Through Norway

While my sleeping bag dries again I will write another blog. I rolled into Norway and after  bit of a wrong turn made it to the North Cape. Little did I know at the time that upon leaving Finland I would also be leaving the sun behind. I have lost track of the number of days that I have been in Norway but it must be more than a week. In that time I have seen glimpses of the sun in neighbouring fjords but nothing in my vicinity.
Tonight I finally cracked and shelled out for a cabin. The weather looked like it was lightening up but after 200kms of hills and rain I came off a saddle through driving rain hoping to leave it all on the summit only to find that it was waiting for me with renewed vigour in the fiord that I had plunged into.

I'm not saying that it has been raining the whole time that I've been in Norway. It's just that it seems to always be raining in the fiord that I'm in or the saddle that I'm crossing.  With the coming of hills and clouds the other cycle tourists seem to have somehow vanished to cycle gentler routes maybe or merrily sail around on the numerous ferries. I've voided all ferries so far as they take up valuable cycling time.  Today I really haven't made the distance I wanted not only due to the rain but also because I ran out of road and they put a ferry in my way. I had to wait for about 40min while they refuelled it and loaded everyone on. Just long enough to freeze my arse off.
I know the sun will come , although when I ask people when they just looked confused. "You know the Sun, yellow thing"
A brief Moment of Sun. Bicycles everywhere Celebrate the Arctic Tour.

Another delay today was having to buy another lock for my bike. Last night I left my bike outside a restaurant and when I returned my bike lock had been mangled by someone to the extent that I couldn't get it undone.  The bike shop guy said that a Norwegian would never try to steal a bike around here and I tend to agree.  But it is odd. Maybe they were drunk. Anyway I did manage to finally break it off showing that it was a crap lock anyway.
The tent I brought certainly has the advantage of being easy to erect on the smallest bit of ground. But it's really not up to west coast Norway.  I'll need to make some improvement s to it when I get home. (Like get another one) . No just joking, it needs another layer.  Either I'll use a bivy bag inside it or devise a fly. If my sleeping bag touch the side when it's raining then you get one wet sleeping bag. And since I do like to move a bit during the night , my lower self ends up sacking up moisture.
"Have a Summer Vacation in the Arctic they said, lots of skinny dipping in the fiord s ." Yeah Right.

There are a number of things that are really working in my favour in Norway though.  For one thing it's very like New Zealand s west coast. So it's like riding on home turf. The drivers however are fantastic by New Zealand standards and truck drivers..... well I could actually get to like trucks here, they have skill and are courteous! Neither of which Kiwi drivers possess.
Then there are the eating places. Up until tonight I have been freedom camping so I ca  afford to eat at fast food and hotels. Well they just seem to turn up just when you need them and they all have bike racks and wifi.
The WiFi thing however has been problematic due to the lack of sun. my solar charger has I thought been struggling to keep the tablet charged. So I have not been communicating as much as I would want too. I thought I had better save the juice just to let people know where I am once in awhile.
But then today in the middle of yet another serious hose off my solar panel went green indicating that it was fully charged !
That made me all happy inside. The Mercian has been doing her best, but someone messing with her probably upset the poor picket of bolts and then this constant dampness has been causing the transmission a bit of grief. Like me she needs a couple days of dry riding with oiling of all parts.
Sometimes You Just Need a bit of Luxury.

Another great thing about Norway is that the 6 min coin showers so far seem to last for 20 min. ! Time passes slowly in Norway.  I have refused to go onto Norwegian time. I have stayed on Finnish time which is 1 hour ahead. It means that I always get everywhere early here. I never miss dinner but I have noticed that the Norwegian s don't seem to be early risers. I sometimes have to forgo breakfast because even at 8am nothings open !
Well that's about it for now. I'm at over 3000km now and am well ahead of my schedule. Not sure what to do with all the extra time but I may use some of it to cycle through Denmark. That will make it a hat trick of all Scandinavian countries. I'll wait and see what develops with the weather.  There's really no point in stopping if it's pissing down. I may as well be on the road heading south. Once I get to the bottom of Norway I will look at shooting through Denmark ( I think it's a smallish country, checking out Copenhagen) then into Sweden and make some kind of track to Stockholm,  my final destination.
watch this space.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Heading North through Finland.

O the joys of a hot shower and the chance to clean your cycling kit. I'm one of the fortunate people out there that does not sweat much when cycling. However 5 days cycling and wild camping  is enough  even for me. And Rovaniemi provided the opportunity to clean up. I wanted to stop here because since starting this ride I had set my mind on buying a finnish made camping knife . I'd first seen them on another's blog and my friend Annika said that many Finnish people carry one when in the countryside. So I rolled into town on a glorious day , bought my knife and just pegged out literally at the camp ground cleaning things and fiddling with my bike. That is until a couple of German cycle tourists pulled into camp. As with many that I had met I  the past these two where fully kitted out, their bicycles groaning under the weight of it all. They did however give me some advice on what might be open as I headed further north.

It's really hard to leave a bit of luxury when you have it but the next day I was back on the bike for another 200kms stint up the country. I passed through Father Xmas' s village and stopped just long enough to sort out why he hadn't  delivered the Raleigh Chopper I ordered in 1975.

Cycling doesn't get much better than this and the next few days just fell into place with me arriving  at roadside cafes or restaurants just in time for breakfast , lunch or dinner. I never missed out on a meal.  Then freedom camping for the night. This is when things genuinely went a little pear shaped with me frantically throwing the tent up and securing the bike before being bitten alive by mozzies.
On one particular evening I was in a cloud  of mozzies and what looked like a thousand little white fly things getting it all together and thinking that once I had the tent up I could usual taunt them from the other side of the mesh, only to find that the little white fly things were small enough to come through the mesh. Before I realised my folly at not battering down all the hatches the little tent was full of them all walking over my sticky body!  I'm still not sure if they were biting me but the torture of the itching from the perceived biting was almost too much to bare.

There are reindeer everywhere up here and as most tourists do I'm sure I kept taking photos of them in excitement until a small herd of them almost took me out when they decided to cross the road in front of me !
The sun  and light winds continued as I headed North and then things unravelled a little as I crossed the border into Norway. Up until then I'd been following a compass bearing of northwest day after day for 1200 odd kilometers.  I knew that once into Norway I had to head more west. But the map that I had resembled little the roads I encountered. This would have been partly due to it being a 1982 printing , one my Father had used for some purpose before passing it on to me.
Anyway by the time I realised that I was on the wrong road heading  way 2 a too far east it was too late and I was committed.  I ended up on the north coast of Norway much to far to the east. And although beautiful it rained that night and my feet got wet while in the tent !
There must be something a wee bit fishy about the waterproofing down there.
Now that I was off the beaten track I had to really put my head down and pedal to ensure that I didn't go hungry as places were further apart and thin around the edges. The road too went from glass like to NZ like and I had to do some emergency maintenance on the mudguards mounts on the Mercian.  The terrain was however not NZ like. Gone were the long flat straights of Finland,  to be replaced by exposed high country.  22C  and sunny was replaced by 11 C and heavy cloud. A bid foreboding.

It didn't rain though and I am back on track and after another run of freedom camps I'm at the Northcape. And for every cloud there is a silver lining . There are so far no mozzies in Norway!  II do however miss the sun and warm temps of Finland.
Today I'm going to whip up to the actual Cape about 20km away and take some pictures. Then back to camp to enjoy another hot shower and get this posted.
Tomorrow I start my ride south ish  back down the Norwegian coast. Please come out sun!
And just an aside, I have discovered that you don't need to pollute the countryside with toilet paper in Scandi the moss is very soft.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Finland : The Tour Begins.

The sun is just going down behind the trees on my fourth day of cycling in Finland . It's only 8.30pm but I've done 200km today and there is a big girl town coming up so thought I'd take the opportunity to wild camp again.
I arrived in Helsinki about a week ago and the weather although warm was gloomy and drizzly. To make matters worse I was pretty much toasted by jetlag and my bicycle had decided to take a stopover in Singapore.  If I'd known that, I would have had a stop over in Singapore.  Anyway all the worries of the time I lost my bike in Casablanca came flooding back and although this time they could tell me where my bike was , I still couldn't sleep thinking it might not make it and what would I do then. A sure sign of course that I am a bike addict.

Anyway I plucked up courage and messaged the only person I knew that lived in Helsinki and spoke English . A person who I had never met and had only occasionally said the odd thing to online. I'm a naturally shy person so it was difficult but Annika was great. She said all the right things and agreed to help me with the problem the very next day.  In fact she lived only 500mtrs from the budget hotel I'd picked at the last minute to stay at. We met the next day at her place for coffee and icecream and it was so real to just get my mind off the missing luggage and talk about normal stuff.

Much happier I went back to the hotel to find out that my Mercian had decided to move on from Singapore and not bother going to Paris as I did but to come directly to Helsinki.  The next morning I woke up and he was waiting outside my room  having turned up I the night.
After looking around Helsinki on the bike and getting horribly lost again. I've got to get a smart phone, I headed North. For the last 4 days I have been cycling about 200km days and wild camping in the forests along the way. The weather has been in the low 20s and the roads are awesome. Smooth with a good shoulder. If I wanted to do big kms then I certainly could info LA dint his weather. There are burger places all along the way and I can tell you that there are a good my more kms Ina Hesburger than a McDonald's burger.

Along the way so far I've met an Italian cycle tourer who thought I was a motor scooter ( he was just carry I g too much stuff)  and a Scots cycle tourer called Angus. I've seenseen Angus twice and he is taking a shortcut so I may bump into him again.
The sun is now setting further and although it's nice and warm when it's up it gets nippy quickly when it sets. I have to wear warm clothes and a wooly hat at night. That's about it for now. I've found Finnish people so far friendly but a bit reserved . A bit like myself I suppose.
I love the fact that they are active people. On the cycle ways there's many everyday people just getting out there and doing it , not just sports people . And the cycle ways are also full of Nordic walkers and Speed Skaters.
Time to rug up for another night. A couple more freedom camps and I will really need a night in a campground so that I can have a shower.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Getting There.

You know I went to a lot of care arranging what to bring on this trip and neatly storing it in its own spot. I had a precise picture of how the bike would break down and fit in the bike box. I was taking a moderate amount of stuff but much less than most on a two month trip to the Arctic Circle.  But when it came to putting it into the bike box  things became a might heated between the Mercian and myself. To the point where I just couldn't help myself , after 20 minutes of being Mr Nice Guy I just told told it all to " Just get the fuck in there !" My nicely packed items were just stuffed in and the box was taped shut. A few last minute items were squeezed though the hand hold holes and I scrawled my name and email address on the outside.

It wasn't until half an hour later while sitting on the couch contemplating life that I had the thought that once I ditch the box outside the airport in Helsinki that I will have my contact details all over it !  Bugger that , I just made life easy for an over zealous litter infringement officer in Finland.
You know that you're bored on the plane when you get great delight in examining the offerings from the flight crew. Like free gifts at a fair the gifts in economy class aren't likely to raise your heart rate much except of course when you have already looked at the in flight mags , made cursory chat to your neighbour,  and worked out that the TV screen isn't functioning yet.

Bad news for me in the in flight entertainment stakes. The latest 'Taken' movie is not there and there are no disaster movies ( just as well that I watched one at home just prior to the flight, amazing how few bolts actually hold a jet engine on)
Everyone seems remarkably normal on Air Singapore today. My neighbour's however are getting fidgety as the the other aisle has TV and we don't ! Me though, I'm Mello after having at least 2 bourbon and cokes. More alcohol than I've had in a while and enough to have me swaying a bit as I got up to once again check that my bag was where I lift it in the overhead locker.
Now back to that free gift..... look at this.

Pictured above.
 I didn't need to cut my toothbrush  short after all because Singapore Airlines gives you one ready made. And look at that, a pair of tent socks. And topped off with a little zip up bag to keep my spare tubes in.
Lunch has got to be coming soon. This must be how my mother lives in the retirement home. Looking forward to one meal after the next just to cope with the boredom. But then it's only 8 hours until we reach Singapore and then i might be able to call it half way... not.
No, there's plenty to keep me occupied.  I can take a picture of my foot.

And in a couple of hours a trip to the toilet to look forward too. Might even go twice if I enjoy it.
Well my and my neighbour's TV refuse to go so they've shifted us. My new home is down in the baby section and if I'd known before I shifted that there was nothing worth watching on at them movies I would have refused to go. Good to see however that the kids were all having fun with their new toy Buzzy Bees.
My 12 hour flight from Singapore to Frankfurt was on anAirbus 380 dreamliner. I did see a couple of good movies but the toilet stops where still the highlight.
Next stop Paris to pick up my bike and jump on the last flight to Helsinki.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Helsinki Here I Come.

Finally my time is drawing near to take off to Scandinavia for my Nordic cycle tour. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a tad nervous.  Jumping on a plane and heading to the other side of the world with just a couple of bags of stuff and a bicycle with the intention of camping in a tent for two months while you cycle unknown roads always makes me nervous.  But to be honest for me the nervousness is usually centred around how I will cope with the loneliness of cycle touring more than the nuts and bolts of actually doing it.
Every trip seems to have its own set of factors that give you cause to worry in addition to this loneliness factor. The altitude scared me when cycling in Peru, getting food was a constant fear in Bolivia, the fear of being killed by motorists kept me awake at night in Brazil. The chaos on the street would often make me not want to leave my hotel room and jump on my bike while cycling in Asia.
It should all fit in one of these boxes.
This upcoming trip has me worried more about the weather that I may encounter than anything else. I'm cycling to the north of Norway in the Autumn, and until recently I haven't been able to find anything on the net that would give me an idea about how cold it could get above the Arctic Circle in September. But last week I found a u tube video of someone who had done it, and ( Famous last words ) , it didn't look too bad. I'm certainly not expecting to come back to New Zealand with a tan though.
In the interests of my new desire to cycle tour with less stuff I will be taking my one man tent that has unknown water resistance,  and very limited home comforts. I'm cutting right back on stuff as practise for the TransAm cycle race that I intend to do next year.  Check out the site if you're interested.  So far there are about 30 entrants from a multitude of countries.

The last time I used this one man tent I  vowed to never use it again because of its claustrophobic nature. But it is so light and compact that I have decided that if it's all I have when I land in Helsinki in the next week then we will just have to learn to get on. Having used it no more than a handful of times since I bought it in the 1980's I can not remember whether it actually protects it's occupant from the rain. Limited research has shown me that there is no way I will be able to afford a roof over my head in Scandi so things are going to be unpleasant if it leaks. Freedom camping however is accepted where I'm cycling this time so I want to take full advantage of it.

The final bicycle service has been done in the workshop and M.U.M 2 just needs to be boxed for the flight.

It had better be a little bit cold in Finland as I cycle north since one of my three cycle bags is full of warm type clothes. Booties , thermal socks , merino training top and gloves. In addition to these I have a bigger than normal sleeping bag and woolie hat. And i couldn't go on this trip without the trusty little kerosene primus that I took across Canada a couple of years ago, and was of course made in Sweden back in the 1940's.
These items will all be regarded as unnecessary luxuries for my race across America next year but on this trip I won't be attempting to ride 300 kms per day. In fact my schedule for this trip is only 100 to 200 kms per day. I won't want to get to camp early I suspect as the tent is not exactly conducive to lying around in. A bit of soft pedaling and the odd Billy up may be the order of the day unless the weather is shite,  in which case I generally get too cold to muck about.

Next post will be from Helsinki with luck. Tomorrow I will box the Mercian, clip my nails , shave my legs , hair ,and generally wander around the house and about the garden soaking up Nelson ' s winter sunshine. When I return it will be mid spring.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Back To Your Maker.

I've decided to send my first Mercian frame back to its maker. Earlier this year I discovered what looked like a Crack in the top of the down tube so had to disassemble the bike and start using my standby Mercian frame. I put the whole idea of replacement on the back burner thinking that I would sort it out once I had completed my tour of Scandinavia this year. But pondering on cycle related things in a moment of quiet at the bike shop recently I thought I'd get the whole thing in the pipeline before I go. I don't like not having a spare frame. I mean what would I do if for some unexplained reason my Mercian 2 was to spit the dummy early next year while I was planning my TransAm attempt ?

When I get back from Scandi it will be spring here and hopefully I will be concentrating on summer Audax and then training for the ride across the US. My repaired frame will turn up from the UK and all I'll have to worry about is how to pay for it. I'm hoping that I can send it to Mercian in the UK via normal parcel post. It will be no cheaper but it will be a lot less complex than using some freight forwarding company. As tempted as I am to have them repaint it in an exciting new colour,  I think I will replicate the pearl white of Mercian 2 but with different  coloured transfers. The reason being that all the parts will swap across without any nasty clashes and I also won't need to replace my cycling wardrobe either. It would be bad form to be wearing non matching kit.

Before the frame gets sent off I had the low rider lugs brazed onto the front forks by Andy my cycle engineer . (Every serious cyclist needs an Andy Engineer).  My current preferred option of light weight cycle touring, and the way I intend to do the TransAm will be using a pair of fork bags and a large saddle bag. In the next few weeks I will be testing whether I can get everything into this format as I pack for Finland.
It's only a few weeks until I catch the plane to Helsinki and the time will go quickly arranging last minute things around here , attending to jobs that Adi can't do around the house such as clearing gutters , sweeping the chimney and making kindling for the fire. It's time again to go into battle against motorists of another culture. I've annoyed the local car lovers enough around here lately. Just the other day I pulled up at the local supermarket bike racks to be confronted with the usual gaggle of market trolleys discarded by lazy motorists who couldn't face the effort involved in replacing them in the trolley bay.The cycle parking area being a more convenient place for them to dump them. Being a somewhat cycling activist and hater of lazy car drivers I took the opportunity to redistribute the shopping carts to empty car parks around and about the mall. Well ! The fury that this evoked in one fat family sitting in their car was beyond the pale! You would have thought that I had banned them from ever consuming another plate of greasy chips in their lives or made them go out and walk the dog each day. They were too lazy to get out of their car and confront me but the language ! It would have made a sensitive God fairing man blush. I just covered Adi's ears and smiled to myself. You are always sure to get a swift and over the top response in life if you challenge the status of the mighty automobile,  the right to reproduce ones -self multiple times, or apparently the connection between the overly inflated Auckland property market and the Chinese.

Talking of kids , and the need to make less of them. I was minding my own business while cycling along the cycle way between Richmond and Brightwater the other day and having successfully dodged numerous dogs , owners of dogs and toddlers I came up behind a 'Mother' ( careful, sacred) riding with her adolescent daughter who were both riding on the wrong side of the path. I tell a slight lie here. The Mother was cycling on the wrong side but the daughter behind was cycling in front of me on one side and then the other. Clearly confused as to which was preferable because her Mother had never taken the time to instruct her.
When the daughter seemed to have settled on her proffered side I started to overtake on the other from behind. Well, you guessed it . No sooner was I along side the said adolescent did she then choose to change sides again and ride into me. Luckily I was under power and she hit me in the rear part of my bike. By powering on I was confident that she would hit the deck and I would be spared.  My luck however ran out when upon crashing she threw her full not unsubstantial weight onto the rear of my bike. We both went hard left off the cycle way and down a bank towards the creek below. !!!!!!!
I could have been angry about all this if it wasn't for the fact that I only went part way down the bank and was comparatively unscathed. Whereas adolescent dragged her muddy body up from the creek bed and then had to reassemble her bike all the while looking pouty.
Riding away feeling happy that I had done my bit to help educate the young in cycle way etiquette I only had left to negotiate an apologetic Mother and then a minute or two later their wayward dog.

Vespa Chick is back now. But in case you were concerned that she may have got back early and caught me out before my last order could arrive, all's well , it bet her home.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Still Home Alone,

It's early winter now. The temperature has dropped and I'm on my own rattling around the house with a couple of attention seeking cats that require constant pats and pick ups. Thank you Adi for that. I have however managed to re educate them on what they like in the way of cat food from the supermarket.  They now know that they must like anything, as what comes home in the bike trailer is 14 cans of whatever my hand grabs first. They have also found themselves locked in once the clock strikes midnight. When I am in bed I have decided, I will not tolerate cats coming in with mice and or dirty feet, only to then jump up onto the duvet and then unload nature's bounty.

Adi has been riding 200 km days on the TransAm cycle race. That has been an awesome achievement day after day while carrying a load. But it hasn't been without a cost. She has been suffering saddle sores and other physical problems recently and yesterday decided that enough was enough and pulled out of the event. There were only two women game enough to compete this year and both pulled out on the same day. A real shame considering all the effort and expense involved in getting to the start line. I can't help but think that if they had ridden together from the start that they both would have lasted longer. But then I'm a real loner on the bike myself so don't know what makes me think that.
Adi's attempt has however galvanised my feelings on the TransAm.  Initially I wasn't interested in entering it because I'm not that competitively minded and also felt that I had seen enough of the US recently. But once she had left NZ  and was meeting and greeting the other contestants, I realised that I was quite envious of her ,and I also wondered how quickly I could travel across the continent.
So next year I have decided to enter myself. And unusually for me I want to see how quickly I can go.
This decision has also made the dilemma of my Scandinavian trip easier. I was wondering how I was going to get all my gear and bike to Helsinki without paying excess luggage chargers.? Well the answer to me is now clear. I will use my Scandi trip as early training for next year's TransAm and will go as lightly as possible.  I will use my horrible one man tent and leave behind the rear carrier and pannier bags. Everything will have to fit in two low rider bags on the front and a saddle bag behind. Gone is any idea of taking ski pants , balaclava etc.
I'm not totally stupid though. I know that northern Norway will be cold. So I will take thermal gear. But only light compact stuff. And i do want to take a cooker and mug to Scandi because I'll have plenty of time to faff around with it . Prices for everything are high in Norway too so I'll need to cook. I won't however take this stuff on the TransAm.
In a week or two I'll try to get everything in the three bags. I have made a start.

Adi will be back home in a week so I think I might have just enough time for a last on line order. I can't have goodies arriving once she gets back. In the next 4 days I will have to start to get the place ship shape again.  Bike stuff will have to be cleared off the dining room table. Discarded sweetie packets will need to be burnt, recycling will need to go out. My friends tell me a little disorder may be good so that she can say "I see you have had trouble coping without me".

Maybe If I Blow on it It Will Dry Quicker?

While Adi has been gone I have taken the opportunity to acclimatize myself for northern Europe.  Although it has been pretty cold outside in the evenings I haven't bothered lighting the wood burner.  Although a might nippy when I get up in the morning I have found that not only is this good for saving on firewood it has the added advantage of encouraging all the unwanted house insects out of hiding to be sucked up by the vacuum cleaner or to just make a break for the comparative warmth outside.
A cold house does create other problems though. The semi soft butter needs to be pre heated before you can spread it on your bread and I tend to stay longer under a hot shower. And when not in the shower I tend to spend more time outside working on the property , sitting on the deck, or out cycling.
These Things Are Sent to Test You.

While out on one of these so called warm up rides last week I discovered that I had broken my second left hand crank in less than six months. I felt this one coming so managed to sit back down on the saddle and negate any chance of my balls meeting the top tube at warp speed. And since I was only 15 to 20 kms from home I also managed to keep the bike in one piece until I got there by soft pedaling on the left hand side. So now I have no spare left hand campagnolo cranks left. This is an intolerable situation which cannot be left to endure for any great time. So I will have to scour the second hand sites for a spare crank or two,

Vespa Chick has got me a little gift from the US. I reckon it's something from the Adventure Cycling Headquarters in Missoula. ?

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Single Guy and his Bike.

Tomorrow evening I'll be living as a Bachelor. Today I am the critic as 'Vespa chick ' packs her bike into the bike box I got for her upcoming trip to Portland in the morning. After a bit of argy bargy about where to put the padding and how best to dismantle various bits, the bike is finally in the box and she just has to add her panniers before taping it closed. I have given her the assorted male lectures on how to reassemble it. The do's and don'ts of cycle assembly have been gone over too frequently but now I can sit back and say that it left here in perfect running order ,and with a full service, the rest is up to her. The whole package I have to admit is very light compared to the weight of our stuff when we cycle tour together.

And  I am envious of the minimal gear she is taking compared to what I will be packing for my trip to Scandinavia in 8 weeks. I really don't want to be overloaded as it's a right pain trying to deceive check in staff as they weigh the package ,and then be wearing as many of your clothes on the plane as possible. You struggle aboard with hand luggage also over the 7kg allowed and a man bag that you then argue is the equivalent of a woman's purse. Then there's the in flight reading material that you are also allowed as an extra, but isn't in flight reading material at all but all your trip type literature and electronic tablet. Just when you think you have made it ,you find that the pannier that you have stuffed as on -flight luggage won't go in the above seat locker due to the bike helmet and cycle shoes that you have tied to its exterior.  So while everyone cues up behind you you remove it all and stuff it in. Then you can't sit down because your legs won't bend as your wearing cycle tights , cycle shorts and a pair of casual trousers over it all. If you're really unlucky some fat person will be not only taking up his seat but half of yours and there will be family with babies within spitting distance.
I'd love to go light like 'Vespa Chick' but I just don't know how cold it will get in Northern Norway so will have to err on the side of caution and take really warm cycle clothing and heavier sleeping gear. In addition to the thermal gear ,because I know how to fully service my bike ,I like to take a full range of tools. I'm also going to take my beloved primus and cooking gear. It's expensive apparently in Scandinavia so I want to cook my own dinners and coffees etc. 'Vespa Chick ' although camping is not intending to cook anything.  Instead she will eat salads from supermarkets and junk food as she cycles across the US.
I just know that I'll be once again on the weight limit. Anyway I'll start getting my stuff together in a few weeks time.
The Mercian. Ready to take Adi's Place in the Lounge.

I Think I'll Do a Bit of this for the Next 6 weeks. 

For the next 6 to 8 weeks I'll enjoy my bachelor ness. Life won't be hugely different except for the meat and three vegy meals, my bicycle being permanently in the lounge, long  conversations on dating apps trying to convince girls that I really am single, and equally long periods sunning myself on the deck with nothing on my to -do list except the occasional 150km circuit ride. Both those last things will be weather dependant but I'm hoping that Nelson will turn on a mild winter as I'm not expecting a hot summer holiday in northern Europe.
O that's right , I also have to keep an eye on the TransAm site to make sure that 'Vespa Chick's 'marker regularly moves, although I'm not sure what I can do if it doesn't?

Hiding Behind a Pile of Palings

If I get bored while she's gone there's always home maintenance. The picket fence palings have been quietly rotting for the last 15 years. It's timely that the neighbour's have decided recently to throw away all there's. I asked if I could have a few and they dumped enough to fix my rotten ones and then about 70 more. There will be plenty to keep my fence repaired for the next 150yrs and possibly build another fence just for the sake of it.

It's been a week of receiving out our way. The nice City Council boys dropped off the new recycle bin as well. Now I have a purpose recycle area in the garden. A compost receptacle where the rodents live, a glass bucket for all my mayonnaise and Nutella bottles and the new everything else wheelie bin. Down the back of the garden I have the ultimate recycler, an incinerator that will burn almost anything and turn it into toxic fumes. I like the principle of the incinerator the best because it forces this generation to deal with this generations rubbish. No stockpiling it for future generations with this baby. Burning the rubbish until we can't breath any more is the idea. It's a self limiting solution.