Tuesday, 7 June 2011

On yer bike or why I went to New Zealand

16 March 2011
I have met a few Kiwi's on my travels and I've heard about New Zealand from Ross Hope - a fellow triathlete so before I left I had an idea that NZ is a lot like Scotland but also has volcanoes, geothermal mud, glaciers and big mountains thrown in.  I hadn't seriously thought of going there until a few things came together... all of them were good.
  • My baby Zoe who lives in Melbourne had her own baby boy Soli... another trip to Oz was immediatley on the cards.
  • I decided to take retirement and thereby set myself free from the world of drudgery
  • Zoe's sister, Sally offered to look after Harvey (my dog) for me while I was away.
  • I got a lodger who was happy to keep an eye on the house and feed the fish.
Given all that, there was nothing to stop me going away for an extended break. The idea of visiting NZ before going to  Melbourne stirred in me. I decided right away that I wanted to take my bike with me which isn't as tricky as it sounds. You can put your bike in a bike box (got from a local bike shop) suitably dismantled and as long as it is less than 23 kilos the nice people from  Qantas let you take it on as luggage. Only trouble was that my ex tribike that I use as a touring bike had proved to be too highly geared to go up the big hills with panniers on them. I got some new gears fitted and they worked like a dream. The week end before my flight I dismantled the bike and all was going well until I tried to take the handlebars off... they wouldn't budge. Even with the help of my DIY expert neighbour, Harry I couldn't get it off. The bike shop man broke his rubber hammer on them! It looked like I wouldn't be taking my touring bike with me. I had three days to think up an alternative. It so happens that I have another bike which I took to India for the LEPRA charity ride. Although it was rough and ready and not serviced (this came back to haunt me later) I decided to take it with me. It dismantled like a dream and I fitted my panniers into the box and carried my new all weather back pack as hand luggage. I kept the amount of stuff I took with me to a bear minimum to keep the weight down but I had my 'Cycling in New Zealand' book with me and my new pair of all purpose gortex running and biking shoes bought from Joe Forte Sports at the last minute. With some useful tips on where to go from Adam and Claire who had lived in NZ for two and a half years I was cruising.When Sandy Wallace came to pick me up for the airport, I had done nearly all the 19 last minute jobs on my list and I did the last one before boarding - organising a proxy vote for the elections on May 5th. Off I went to Auckland via Heathrow, Bangcock and Sydney. 

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