Archive for October, 2009


Arriving into Nelson Video

Monday, October 26th, 2009

We have been away from the bikes for a week walking and kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park.  Stories from this adventure coming soon.

In the mean time…….

This is our first, of many hopefully, video.  Many Thanks to Andrew for making this for us.  Those of you on Facebook will have already seen this.  We now have a YouTube channel that you can join, in addition to our Facebook and Flickr pages. 

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Being 10 again

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

The day started off slowly, having not slept well and getting up late.  I felt bad for not having made the most of the day.  We eventually got our bags packed and headed into Nelson to do a few jobs and see some old friends.  Our original plan was to go to a Museum and then cycle along the beach before coming back to my friend Andrew’s house to do some chores, general bike and equipment maintenance, (not Andrew’s house work).  Having already decided the Museum was to expensive, and we had also planned to have a treat of lunch out, food won and we went straight to the beach from Nelson.  I could not remember the beach front in Nelson that well, it had been four years since I last saw it, but as I cycled towards the sea my memory slowly recalled what was there.  We had a lovely late lunch in a small restaurant overlooking the water, savouring our food and the stillness of the day.  After lunch we had planned to go back to Andrews to get on with our chores but we both decided that the beach looked far more appealing.

We started of by trying to cycle in the sand, good preperation for the desert I thought, only the sand was too soft.  I knew this of course but something inside me  made me try again just to make sure.  Even a change in cycling technique did not help and I still ended up with some comedy falls off the bike.  Amused at my own antics we pushed the bikes to the harder sand closer to the sea and cycled up the beach.  It was amazing, I have never cycled up a beach before and was revelling in the novelty of the expereince.   About half way down the beach we stopped and had a debate about weather to build a sand castle.  After some initial sketches in the sand we decided to build a sand bike.  I started of felling a little silly building a sand bike when I had a perfectly good bike just next to me.  However as the sand bike progressed and I became more emersed in what I was doing I did not think it was silly and did not even care that the spokes weren’t perfect.  It was fun and the bike was great nothing else mattered.

Having finished building we stopped to take some photos and chat to a few passing admirers of our creation.  I went for a swim in the sea,  and we left our sand bike to be erased by the incomming tide.   We cycled home feeling energised and care free.  As we approached the road that would take us to Andrews house I felt like I was 10 again, coming home for supper after a big adventre.  A strange but wonderful feeling that I hope I can experience again again not only on this trip but for the rest of my life.

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GUEST BLOG: by SARAH LEAKEY

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Sarah is Chris’s younger sister, living here in New Zealand, working as a teacher. Sarah is also a kick-boxing champion, has heaps of energy and is generally up for most outdoor challenges…

The Truth About Bikeabout…

You’ve seen their amazing pictures with stunning views of landscapes and you’ve read their blogs that mainly consist of what amazing places they are visiting and the wonderful people they are meeting but I am here to tell you the truth about the bikeabout experience.
 
Having recently moved out to New Zealand I had in mind to buy a second hand bike, just to commute to work on but instead got talked into buying a rather expensive road bike complete with clip pedals and all.  Having never ridden something like that it was fairly scary and learning to clip in and out of the pedals is like learning to ride a bike again.  The cycle ride from Palmy (where I live) and Wellington was to be the first time I had used my bike other than in the cul-de-sac outside my house.  Fingers crossed for a pleasant experience.
 
sarahThe going started pretty well, the road was pretty smooth, there was maybe one big hill (in my opinion) and I was coping with the clip in and out thing without falling off.  Then I got my first experience of a lorry, now when I say lorry you all probably think of a van of some sort – NZ lorries are enourmous and normally have two parts to them as well.  There are signs scattered around NZ saying ‘share the road’ with a picture of a cyclist and a car and an arrow between the two suggesting a 1.5m gap.  Lorry drivers clearly misread the signs or don’t think they apply to them because not only did this lorry come within about 1.5cm of me which was scary enough (I consider this my first near death experience) after it has gone it creates a load of wind that nearly blows you off your bike – so there I was clutching the handle bars with white knuckles wobbling about all over the place trying to steady the bike.  Poor Chris and Liz have to put up with that all the time.  My knuckles turned white several more times during the journey. 
 
As we arrived at camp (in the pouring rain) it was hard to find a spot that had not turned itself into a mini lake – but we succeeded – just! Liz and I got into dry clothes and admired the view from the inside of the tent while Chris busied himself making everything nice. I imagine their both going to have to go through some fairly horrendous weather conditions on this trip and this was pretty mild really so I don’t envy what they have to come. Anyway, we had an enjoyable evening – even though there was what appeared at night time to be a creepy group in a car (turned out to be a pleasant man on his own camping as well).

The following day the rain had subsided but the wind had picked up and the roads were rubbish (in comparison to the previous day). It was hard work cycling and my knee was ready to give in – I was at times just cycling with one leg which was possible thanks to the clippy pedals. I remember at one point going up a hill and pedalling like mad and then getting to the top thinking yay I can free wheel down the hill now but then having to pedal just as hard down it because of all the wind. There was also my second near death experience on the dual carriageway having missed the cryptic sign for the cycle path. It’s the first time I think I’ve ever seen Chris truly concerned for my safety – I thought he might have a heart attack or something. I am considering requesting the video footage from the CCTV camera that followed our every move as a momento of the hair raising occasion.

After lots more wind and a few horrible hills we finally reached Tawa and turned into the road we were staying on only to find it was a great big hill – I decided to be a baby and give up cycling up this hill a few metres from the top but alas my clip out power failed me and I could not get my feet out of the pedals, it was like a final protest really, then the realisation dawned on me that there was no escape and I just fell sideways (still attached to the bike) onto the road in what must have been quite a comical way (thanks very much to the person who slowed down in their car, impolitely stared at my misfortune, decided that I wasn’t dead so they didn’t need to bother to stop and promptly drove away).

Anyway… my point is, these two have got an enormous task on their hands and although they’re going to see some amazing things on the way and have a once in a life experience please think of the pain it involves. Can you honestly imagine yourself giving up everything you own so you are left with just what you can carry yourself (on a bike!) then dragging all this stuff halfway around the world through awful weather conditions, on horrendous roads, having to put up with inconsiderate, life threatening traffic and then at the end of the day climbing into a quite possibly wet tent which you will have lived in for what would seem like a lifetime. I think the majority of us would say no to that question – we like the idea – but in reality we wouldn’t do it ourselves. So, I want you to think about how much you would pay someone to not make you do that, then double it because I don’t think you’ve fully appreciated the aching muscles and dirt yet, and then that is what you should sponsor them so that they can help build a school for their chosen charity.

 

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Saddle sore

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

We knew that we had the Rai Saddle and the Whangamoa Saddle to go over today and were ready for them. The road up to the Rai valley is pretty flat and the run up is gentle. Then suddenly the road starts going up and you know that you have found the start of the hill. I stop take off a layer, have some water, catch my breath and then slip into the low gears to start climbing. Up and up till you can see all around and down into the forested hillsides. The Rai saddle wasn’t bad through, we both reached the top wondering what all the fuss was about really, we’ve been over much worse/harder/steeper/windier/longer (delete as appropriate) hills. But it was still good to get to the top and still have quite fresh legs.

We stopped for lunch and I heard all about the Peppercorn Beast ( a tale we shall share with you in a separate posting). Then on towards the next saddle, which was still some way away. The wind increased and made the cycling harder than it should have been. As i reached Whangamoa (Chris was some way ahead by then), the rain and wind combined forces. It was a steep start and as i tried to cycle the head wind decided that i wouldn”t be cycling. In the end i got off and pushed which with the weight is pretty much as hard as cycling. The rain got heavier and i pulled over to pull on my waterproofs as fast as i could. It was such hard work and my little legs were getting more and more tired. The rain eased off and the road continued to climb. It was slow going but i got there. Chris was waiting for me and we started the downhill together. After 30 secs we both stopped to put on more layers, gloves, and a buff over the mouth and nose, it was freezing speeding downhill!

We then had 7km of glorious downhill. I felt like we were cycling down a mountain. It was great but pretty cold and my hands were really cold despite 2 pairs of gloves! The view was stunning, i couldn”t belive how high we were and the road just kept on going. We travelled as far as Hira and came to a stop. Where to camp? It was really quite windy and cold. So we headed 8km off track towards Cable Bay, the coast.

At the campsite we upgraded to a cabin as it was really quite cold and blowing a gale by the sea.

Cable Bay
Cable Bay

We had a really good night at the campsite as we met two other travellers, Chris and Leyla, who were really good to talk to. We ate dinner together and shared a few beers.

In the morning before we left, the campsite owner came down in his truck especially to bring us some oranges and ask us about our trip, which was a nice surprise. We also got talking to the guy in the motorhome nearby, he was from England and invited to stay if we passed his place in Twizel.
We took some photos by the beach before setting off to meet Andrew at Hira. On our ride back to Hira, we both reflected on the fact that although we had gone 16km off track and paid to stay in a cabin, we had met 4 nice people and got a lot out of the time we spent in Cable Bay.

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Paradise Found

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

bikeabout-105The route out of Picton along the Queen Charlotte drive takes you up and over the bay, winding up the hill. You are instantly faced with beautiful views of the Queen Charlotte Sound, glistening blue water and tree covered island hills. It is so wonderful. I literally wanted to stop, write in my journal and photograph the entire route. It is a mini paradise.

Relatively quiet with few cars and hot sun overhead, it was perfect cycling. We climbed to the peak and then came whizzing down to Bay where we stopped for lunch. The bay looked like a scene out of Treasure Island and I half expected to see a pirate ship come sailing round the corner.  Although Jim Hawkins (in the book) seems to have little liking for Treasure Island, I was still enjoying the beauty of the bay.  By the time we reached Moepiri the rain came in and as we cycled down into Havelock it was pretty grey, rainy and windy. Initial thoughts were to stay in Havelock, but with YHA costing $60 for the night, we decided to head out of town and find a wild camp spot.

We cycled for a good few miles but couldn’t find a suitable spot. The light was going and it was still wet, so as we reached Canvastown we knew we needed to stop there. We reached the hotel and enquired about camping, luckily they said we could camp out the back for $5 hurrah! We cooked a good dinner  and then went for a drink in the bar, watched the boxing and slept well. In the morning the people from the motorhome parked up next to us were keen to meet us and chat, which was great. So hello Les is you’re reading!

 

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