A LATTE SIPPING, PONSONBY DWELLER GOES ADVENTURING BY BICYCLE
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THE BIG PLAN
I made a solo cycle ride from one end of New Zealand to the other over the southern summer - 2009/10. I kept off the busy highways as much as possible, and even managed a few 4WD tracks in some of the more remote corners of the country. I finished on 9 April 2010 and returned home to Auckland by train from Christchurch (the train, though slow, is a convenient way of transporting a bike).
My efforts at fundraising for my favourite charity Oxfam were disappointing, but I am incredibly grateful to those who did donate - some with significant amounts of money. To those people, again a big thank you.
If you have just discovered my blog and enjoy reading it, there is still time to make a donation. I believe Oxfam does an outstanding job providing the essentials for people less fortunate than the rest of us - things like providing clean drinking water and sanitation and helping people to help themselves.
If you are prepared to help Oxfam in its work, copy and paste their address into your web browser and make a donation by credit card. Every dollar helps. Here's their address.
AND FINALLY ...
A few lines from a poem that sums up my attitude towards this journey:
Give to me the life I love,
Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
And the by-way nigh me.
Bed in the bush with stars to see -
Bread I dip in the river -
Theres the life for a man like me,
Theres the life forever.
R. L. Stevenson
April 27th 2010
"Behind us lay the whole of America and everything I had previously known about life... We had finally found a magic land at the end of the road and we never had dreamed the extent of the magic." Jack Kerouac - On the Road The Meaning of Life Jack may have found his “magic” in the 1950s classic On the Road, but I’m still searching for mine after 5,500k on The Beast of Burden. That’s not to say it’s been a fruitless journey, I’ve found out quite a bit about myself. It's All About Me For example, I’ve learnt that I can be quite chatty, and the natural reserve I have when meeting strangers is often replaced now by a more outgoing manner. I even initiate conversation. It may seem a strange thing to learn and ... read more
April 27th 2010
As I mentioned once before, the first question I get when I meet someone new is usually the one that goes, “what’s that box thing on the back of your bike?” At first I was quizzed so often about my plastic footstool it used to irritate me. Now, perhaps because I’m more relaxed after months on the road, I find the question more amusing than annoying. The pictures explain its uses - including its “secret” purpose, at last revealed! Touring Tips For Novices This blog is aimed at novice bike tourers. Those others with a few thousand kilometres behind them will have already worked out much of what follows. It’s All About The Bike The first, crucial decision to make is what kind of bike? The roads to all of New Zealand’s major visitor attractions are ... read more
April 13th 2010
Gentle Readers, This really is the last of the blogs, and it's not even being written by me. See below, it's self explanatory. To all of you, many thanks for your support, encouragment and kind words over the past few months. I have had a wonderful break, but now it's time to catch up with family and friends before returning to work. For the record, the Beast of Burden and I finished up covering 5,551 kilometres. The top speed of 68.4 kph achieved on the West Coast was never exceeded. The one and only puncture occurred in the central North Island. The bike has the same set of tyres we set out with. regards to you all, Feral Mike Hi, I'm Jack, Uncle Mike's half British half New Zealand nephew and I'm going to tell you ... read more
April 7th 2010
"For these were the men who led the way To the quiet valleys we know The hero band of this rugged land The diggers of long ago.” A roadside tribute to the gold diggers of the 1860s, many of whom found their way to the Otago goldfields via what is now known as The Old Dunstan Rd from Dunedin.The route is 170 kilometres long, some of it sealed, but the majority gravel or 4WD track. Tough as Old Boots Spare a moment for those miners. I did on a 300 metre climb not far from the Lammermoor Range and even closer to something called the Great Moss Swamp. I had the advantage of a modern 27 speed bike, clothing that could keep me warm even when it was wet, a feather down sleeping bag and ... read more
April 1st 2010
Bluff is the bottom of the South Island, right? Well, actually no. Ask the locals and most of them will tell you that the true southernmost tip of the South Island is Slope Point, 70 kilometres east of Invercargill. How the signpost at Bluff came to be established as the southernmost point isn’t clear to me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that at Bluff there is a port and a township, both readily accessible by car. At Slope Point there is nothing other than some sheep grazing in the paddocks and a 20 minute walk through farmland to a sign pointing to the South Pole and the Equator. It Adds Up It didn’t take much arithmetic to work out that Slope Point is in fact, the most southerly point. Its latitude ... read more
March 25th 2010
Gentle Readers, At 11.51 am yesterday I reached Bluff. Whew! I shoved the Beast of Burden up a steep hill to a café overlooking that famous sign - the one with all the place names - and sat down to a meal of raw Bluff oysters and blue cod and chips and hot chocolate. Then I rode back the way I’d come to Invercargill, in cold rain and with a fierce westerly. The Vital Statistics Distance Travelled Auckland, Cape Reinga, Bluff: 4,889 kilometres Average Speed : About 18-19 kph. Average Speed in Past Few Days :19.6 kph. Max Speed : 68.4 kph near Tuatapere The Last Few Days From Manapouri (see last blog), I’ve travelled what’s called “The Southern Scenic Route” down through Tuatapere to Invercargill. They may call it “scenic”, but to be honest it’s ... read more
March 21st 2010
It had to be the best cup of tea ever. I was cold and wet, and the tea was hot and wet. What’s more it was made with real milk instead of the powdered stuff I carry with me, and l was drinking it in the warmth of a ship’s saloon. How I came to be aboard was thanks to the crew - in particular Carol, who’s the nature guide aboard the tourist vessel, “Fiordland Navigator” operated by Real Journeys. It was tied up at the wharf when I arrived at Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound. The crew were farewelling their overnight guests, and my timing couldn‘t have been better. As the bus pulled away, I swung in on the Beast of Burden and asked, “where‘s the coffee shop?” Cue Carol, who invited me aboard to have ... read more
March 18th 2010
Night Raider A mouse has been into my food during the night. I’m surprised, because I packed everything away carefully into a pannier on the bike which is inside the hut where I‘m staying. I pulled the drawstring tight on the pannier, and closed and clipped the flap securely. But still the mouse worked his (or her) way in. I’ve had to throw away half a bread roll, which had clearly been munched. Presumably the same mouse (unless there was a full-on raiding party) is responsible for gnawing through the plastic bag containing my porridge and leaving behind some mouse droppings. I’ve checked the rest of my food and my garlic is untouched, so are two bananas, the ginger nuts and teabags and several slices of luncheon sausage. I wasn’t sure about the 250 gram ... read more
March 18th 2010
First Marshall Your Humans … As I pushed the bike off the coal-fired steamer Earnslaw at Walter Peak Station, I heard a voice marshalling everyone except us cyclists. Like sheep, they moved in a great flock towards a paddock. The “voice” was a man wearing a leather hat with a curled brim and expensive looking clothing that would have been more in keeping in one of Queenstown’s fashionable stores. Soon the “voice” was marshalling sheep, demonstrating to his flock of humans how one man and a couple of dogs could exercise control. It was probably a good demonstration, and the tourists probably enjoyed it. A Truly Kiwi Environment But I was glad I’d gone to Wanaka’s A and P Show a couple of days beforehand. There I’d seen farmers and their dogs competing in a ... read more
March 13th 2010
A quick apology. I'm sorry, some subscribers may have received a second email re my blog about the kotuku, white herons, near Okarito. There was a little glitch in the system, and my efforts to correct it resulted in the second alert. Hopefully, it won't happen again. Now read on. People and Places We were a strange threesome to wash up at the same café table in Haast. There was Angela, the young American cycle tour guide who was on a day off. There was Alan, the not-so-young southern farmer who was taking part in the tractor charity ride to raise funds for children with cancer. And there was me, trying to drag myself away from the conversation and start my day’s riding. Alan was chatting about elderly tourists on the sightseeing coaches that do ... read more