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, 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.