Was anyone else obsessed with the ‘choose your own adventure’ books back in the day? I loved them. What a brilliant concept! I’d re-read each one, choosing all the different options to see which gave the best ending. In real life, it can often be difficult to choose to do what you actually want to do, rather than doing what you think you should do. (Or maybe that’s just me – Ed certainly struggles far less with this predicament!)
This certainly applies to cycle touring. We’ve met many cyclists who were proud to tell us they’d ‘cycled all the way’ from X. But also, and arguably in greater numbers, those who were slightly embarrased about having ‘given in’ and hopped on the train / bus / plane / boat for whatever perfectly valid reason. We nipped this feeling in the bud on our UK pre-tour, when we took the train between Newport and Bristol because we were hungover after Doddski’s wedding, and simply couldn’t be bothered to cycle. This has made subsequent similar decisions far simpler! It’s not a competition, and we’ve actually quite enjoyed the variety that alternative modes of transport have provided.
However, when you’ve told everyone that you’re quitting your job and b*ggering off to ‘go cycle touring’ for a year or however long, it can be a little difficult to admit that, actually, you’d kind of had enough of riding your bike, and would quite like to do something else for a while. But this, folks, is where we are.
For me, it’s been coming on for a while. I’ve had the feeling of something not being ‘quite right’ for a few months, if I’m really honest. For Ed, there were flickers in Malaysia, as we were nearly run off the road on a couple of occasions by fast moving trucks. But it’s really solidified over the last few weeks here in New Zealand.
Beautiful as it may be, cycling here can be summed up in three words: hills, wind and trucks.
Hills we can deal with, and actually quite like (most of the time, gravel roads not included).
Headwinds make me grumpy, Ed remains stoic.
But, oh the trucks! When combined with hills, where the road gets squeezed and the shoulder disappears, and especially descending, when the trucks go so fast, there is absolutely no way they’re stopping. Or when combined with a gusty crosswind, blowing the cyclist into the main carriageway. Potentially lethal? Maybe….if you were very unlucky. Borderline terrifying? Absolutely.
We do think there is hope for cycle-touring around this fantastic country, but with a major caveat. You can’t (as we did) expect to decide where you want to go based on your choice of ‘sights’, and simply use your bike to take you there. You need to go where the cycling is good. I have to admit, I had read several accounts telling a similar tale before we arrived. But I had to experience it for myself to get through my thick skull.
In addition to all of the above, it turns out that New Zealand is actually quite BIG. We thought we were happy to compromise, and just to see the parts of the country that we had time to cycle to…..but when we were REALLY honest with ourselves, we realised that this was not the case.
So, I hear you cry, what IS the plan?? Well my dears, I hope you are sitting comfortably. Ex-work colleagues will be amused to hear that we practically had a brainstorming session to figure this out (and, alas, I was NOT in charge!)
We are currently in Wellington (the capital, don’t you know), having cycled most of the way from Auckland (yay us ;). On Monday, we will hop on the Bluebridge ferry and cross to Picton on the South Island. We will then cycle 18 whole kilometres to the small town of Tuamarina where we have secured not only a bed for the night, but storage for our trusty steeds AND a load of our junk for a ‘few’ weeks. Hooray for warmshowers!!
We will then identify as ‘backpackers‘ for the aforementioned few weeks, exploring the delights of Queenstown and Wanaka (for hiking and wine). We will travel by bus, stay in hostels / campsites, and continue living pretty frugally. We will breathe in mountain air and ogle at splendiferous views. I can’t flippin’ wait.
We are going to pick the bikes up again, and ride a little bit more, but it won’t be our focus. No, folks, the hiking shoes will be firmly ON.
It doesn’t end there either. We’ve made the big decision not to cycle-tour in Australia. Mostly because it’s massive, but also because we’ve heard similar reports about the road conditions We are hoping to buy a van 🙂 for a serious road trip. With a bike rack, obvs.
Because we do still love our bikes, honest. So much in fact, that we’ve changed our flights to fly back to Bologna, rather than Heathrow (rumour is the pizza’s better). The plan is to ride home from there….somehow!
Enough already. Here are a few pics from our ride between New Plymouth and Wellington, which is probably why you’re actually here. Apologies for all the rambling 🙂
And that’s it, you’re up to date! Now don’t fall off your chairs when I say this, but you can expect another blog VERY SOON. Before we leave Wellington, if all goes to plan. It will be quite a change from the usual programme, in that the main topic will be COOKING! On a camping stove. Get excited!
Flickr album coming soon…..flickr is not my friend today but fingers crossed it comes around ASAP!