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.

Niel the Wheel's Early Cycling History

My first girlfriend Cathy was not into cycling. The relationship couldn't last.
Serious cycle touring started for me when I was twelve years old. Up until then I was content to go out with my mates down to the wharf for a bit of fishing or out on a days bike ride to the nearest exposed coast for a bit of fun.

I remember on one such day trying to wrestle an old tyre off what I thought was a sea driven log part buried on a windswept beach (my mates standing well back refusing to help me) only to discover when I stepped back that it was a long dead cow all dried up and crunchy!

I got a lot of mana on that day.

Our first tour was a few days away sleeping in barns and eating fish & chips. Boys being boys we failed to plan the more important parts of the trip and often went hungry. Arriving late one night at a small fishing village Colin went on a long search back for food and while he was away Brett and I promptly devoured the rest of the provisions.

Colin later came back empty handed after cycling 50kms. Poor Colin empty handed and empty tummied.

Tours got more ambitious By the age of thirteen we were on the road for up to two weeks cycling the lower half of the North Island of New Zealand. We were forbidden to go to the South Island as our parents insisted that we be within easy driving distance in case we needed rescuing. Being a group of three kids one of us was always on the out.On the first day I was ridiculed because my bike was blue and the others apparently had more desirable colours. Colin was the man on day two because not only could he ride a fully loaded touring bike no hands but got told off by a passing police car!

Camping required not only making the planned motor camp but also producing the letter from our parents instructing the camp owner that we were not running away from home but on a legitimate cycle tour.

Brett was always the strongest among us and being a tad selfish and thoughtless as most twelve going on thirteen yr olds are he often rode off ahead without regard for Colin and I. One wet day having had enough of this behaviour Colin and I on discussion decided to change the days route in Brett's absence
We cycled off to the revised Motor Camp and were happily booked in and preparing our dinner when we saw through the steamed up window of the camp kitchen Brett turn up in the back of a police car. In the cold rain they unloaded Brett's bike from out of the boot of the car and we were three again!

On these cycle tours we used equipment past down from our parents. My father told me that the best tent around was a canvas one that he new was in the back of the garage somewhere.On a wet night that tent would triple in weight! Arguments would ensue the next day as to who had to carry the tent. It would refuse to go into its carry bag and the unlucky sod who had to carry it would be left behind constantly during the day. (Those that fell behind would be left behind).

Brett had further reason to hate the tent one night when he ripped a corner putting it up and in punishment Colin and I made him sleep by the tear for the rest of the tour.

Thanks Dad. That tent hated us as much as we hated it. I recall on one particular tour we had a 1000m pass to go over on the final day and Brett advised the rest of the team that he was going to cycle it that evening and not wait til morning.Since the next day was Brett's day carrying the tent Colin and I made him take it over the pass with him that night.

Colin and I slept in the drizzle out in a field and the next day tackled the pass made even more difficult by the weight of our down sleeping bags that had absorbed a small lake full of water during the previous evening.

Brett wasn't always keen to join Colin and I on cycle tours but when the call came through that another mission was being planned he always put the better part of judgement aside and joined the expedition.The South Island was finally conquered and we felt that once we had crossed Cook Strait that we were in another country. We scaled the steepest passes in New Zealand, sat in a rural railway station for 12hours waiting for a train that just went straight by and managed to eat my older sister out of her weekly food allowance when we turned up at her flat unannounced.
Holdsworth and Campagnolo were pivotal in my early years.

Cycle touring took a back seat to cycle commuting when I was at University.