Hawkes Bay NZ Water trail

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Making riding part of your life

Summer's over, so time to return to blogging.

Being laid up by my ankle break, I missed riding so much, I forced myself back on the bike in May. My ankle continues to hurt at times, but you get used to it and it does seem to hurt less and less. For the first months, I swapped out my cleated pedals for flat ones so I could ride in shoes, and I walk up a lot more hills pushing the bike than I used to.

Currently I'm participating in King County's InMotion program, which rewards local residents with prizes for driving less and doing more by bike, bus and walking.

Challenges like this are fun, and Seattle's 3-month run of unbroken sunshine makes it easy. Because it's not a stretch for me to do errands by bike, I'm deliberately planning complex rides across town. I did two great trips this week. Tuesday, I rode downtown, took the King County Water Taxi to Alki (bikes travel free), took the free shuttle to Alaska Junction in West Seattle, and rode to a cooking class at a natural foods store. The return trip, at 9:30pm, was too late for a return on the water taxi, so I used the new Metro Rapid Ride, "C" and "D" routes, and then rode the last mile home. Not too many drunks on the night bus, and it took about an hour.

Yesterday, I rode through the University district to Montlake station, hoisted the bike down the stairs, and rode Sound Transit across Lake Washington to Bellevue. The return was from Bellevue Transit Center to downtown, finished with a return home by bike.

On both days I used William the Conqueror, the baby bike that draws a lot of interest. Metro buses have bike racks, but they don't fit my bike with tiny wheels. And the folding bike is certainly a lot less hassle to wheel onto escalators and out of the bus tunnel. A Brompton is designed for this sort of travel.

Still, I continue to tour, and did manage one good one. In May I took William for a week long trip in Southern Utah. I flew SW Airlines, so there were no bag fees for the cardboard box I cut to size to transport the bike. With a rental car, I had a great time riding and car camping in Zion and Bryce National Parks. Certain parts of each park are closed to private cars, so cyclists can ride some of the best scenic routes out there. Everyone else is stuck in the mandatory park bus.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Inspired by Anne Mustoe

I recently finished reading Anne Mustoe’s Two Wheels in the Dust: From Kathmandu to Kandy (2001), a book about biking the route of the Ramayana’s major characters Rama, Sita and their divine assistant, Hanuman, the monkey king.

I’d hoped that this adventurous woman, who’d be in her 80s by now, was still going strong. Unfortunately, she died in Syria in 2009, on what turned out to be her last bike ride.

I have a copy of the Ramayana, but found it difficult to read. No superlative is ever too much where this epic is concerned, which makes for hard going. It must work better in song or theatrical form. Now that I’ve seen it through Anne’s eyes, I’ll try to read it again.

Last November, I spent a month in Nepal. While in Kathmandu, I glimpsed a beaten up long distance cyclist pushing his rig through the Thamel neighborhood. He was the dustiest person I’ve ever seen, and had his gear wrapped in torn black garbage bags. He disappeared before I catch up and chat. The fact that I wanted to “catch up” with someone who looked like a dangerous vagrant says a lot about how long distance cycling changes your outlook on life.

Where ever I travel these days, I check the terrain for cycling possibilities. That's what riding long distance in France, followed by long distance in the USA, and  in New Zealand does to you. For now, I won't be broaching the subject of riding from Nepal through India to Sri Lanka with non-riding friends, as they'd think I was crazy. With the right mindset, which solo female cycling in the subcontinent would demand in spades, I think it would be a grand trip.

Thank you Anne Mustoe, former headmistress, and late-to-riding pioneer, for lighting the path for the rest of us.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Saddle wisdom

It’s raining lightly today, and in the upper 50s outside. Just been enjoying a spring catalog from Terry Bicycles, full of fashionably wearable women’s bike clothing, accessories, and equipment.

Terry’s website has some interesting blog posts. Found Georgena Terry’s take on 650 vs. 700 cc wheels “The Wheel Debate Continues” very helpful.

As one of the 8.2 percent of Washington State residents currently looking for a job, I need to control discretionary spending, so being a bike fashionista is out. The hard plastic and Velcro boot I wear these days to protect my healing left ankle doesn’t really go with much, anyway. I’m not into the snowboarder/astronaut look.

I use Terry saddles. I wore the leather out on a “Liberator” many years ago, and my “Butterfly” is still going strong on my road bike.

Cutout saddles work. Also use chamois butter and teach yourself to hover above, as much as sit on, a saddle while riding. Bingo! That’s how to survive long distance riding.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

3rd annual APBP webinar on women and bicycling

I attended the 3rd annual Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, APBP webinar: Empowering Women to Bicycle for Transportation (and Fun) on March 28, 2012. Always an inspiring event.

The slide show is available here.

I was particularly inspired by Kim Cross, founder of Magic City Cycle Chix, a Birmingham, Alabama-based group that puts together women’s local mountain biking trips and group rides that are heavy on encouragement and light on competitiveness. I wished these gals were in my neighborhood.

Having recently “discovered” mountain biking via a few of New Zealand’s Nga Haerenga bike routes, I’m gonna look into what’s available specifically for women like me hereabouts. I know a number of mountain bikers, and 100-percent of them subscribe to the “if your head isn’t bleeding, and you haven’t got a tree branch wedged in your front wheel, well, you’re not trying hard enough” school of thought.

Most riding is out for me currently. Last week, I swapped my non-weight-bearing awkward cloth “boot” for a sturdier, weight-bearing, equally awkward Velcro-and-hard-plastic number that’s the next step (pun) in regaining my ability to flex my left ankle and walk without pain.

While I don’t think I’ll be practicing jumps off elevated wooden platforms anytime soon, my PT just told me I could set up a bike on an indoor trainer, and get back in the saddle.

It won’t be pretty, but it’s a start.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My favorite solo women bike travelers: Louise Sutherland

"In 1945, aged 19, Louise Sullivan pedalled off to discover New Zealand, then spun her way around the globe, winning hearts along the way."

While cooling my heels at the Auckland YHA last month, I read a short biography by Bronwen Wall, Louise Sullivan Spinning the Globe [Kennett Brothers : Wellington, New Zealand, 2010].

It's hard not to like this free-spirited woman. In 1978, Louise, now aged 52, wearing a knee length skirt, rode her Raleigh bicycle solo on the Trans-Amazonian highway across Brazil.

Louise carried a bottle of nail polish as a trip essential, and it's wonderful to see how often she used this item to befriend people, break down barriers, and get out of trouble.

This book is number 6 in a series called "New Zealand Cycling Legends" at Kennett Brothers

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Friendlier Bike Events for Women?

What can be done to make bicycle events friendlier to women? I just read this interesting qualitative study from two Australian academics at Griffith University, who studied female participants on the 2010 nine-day Bicycle Queensland supported ride. I’ve ridden several day and week-long events over the past 10 years, and I’m familiar with being an outlier: solo female rider, perfectly happy to ride at the back of the pack so I can enjoy the journey, not the destination, and not having many other women riders around.

Here’s an academic take on what that might mean.

Fullagar, Simone and Adele Pavlidis, “It’s all about the journey: women and cycling events,” International Journal of Event and Festival Management (2012), Vol. 3, Iss. 2
Abstract here:

To read the full article, email Professor Fullagar

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bike maintenance basics for women

I figured out how to get myself, my bike, and my gear back to Seattle. A lot of sitting around airports (Auckland to Sydney, Sydney to San Francisco, San Francisco to Seattle), and experienced first hand the ups and downs of negotiating airports in a wheelchair.

Since getting back on Feb 28, I've been busy with doctors and kneeling on a scooter to get around without crutches.

As riding is OUT for months until I can put weight back on my left foot once more, and learn to walk with pins in my ankles, I'm making the best of it.

Went to the local outdoors store, and attended a free Bike Basics for Women demostration. I know quite a bit about bike maintenance and basic repairs, but I sure don't know everything.

This was a nice time to spend the evening, learning about lubes and things I should be doing, but haven't.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sudden end to tramping on Cape Brett

Under the temporary cast I now have bolts and pins on the outer ankle and bolts and wire on the inner ankle. I hope to be discharged tomorrow, and find a way to bumble through a few days at the Auckland YHA, then assistance from shuttle drivers and airport staff.

Not sure how I'll get my bike on the plane home, but fingers crossed.

It's one week exactly since I injured myself.

No riding or walking for at least 6 weeks.

Gosh, what a week it's been. My accident even got a mention in the local newspaper.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cape Brett Lighthouse

An early morning view of the lighthouse, take from the doorstep of the lighthouse keeper's cottage, now tramping hut.

I spent 2 days here, reading and looking at the ocean, a 23 bed hut to myself.

This will be the last post for a while, as I had an accident on the hike out. I am in Whangarei Hospital with a badly broken left ankle. I still can't quite believe today's events, which included a helicopter evacuation off the trail.

I won't be doing much riding for a while but I am safe and looking forward to having my ankle pinned tomorrow.

I am immensely grateful to my rescuers. New Zealand really is amazing.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Preparing for Departure from Auckland

Had a moment of panic this morning when I tried and failed to get the pedals off.my bike.

The storage room at Auckland International YHA is crammed full of bikes, such a change from when I was first here in early January, so it's a challenge to disassemble and box up anything in here, let alone deal with a mini crisis. Even my fellow cyclist buddy, Les, who happens to be staying here as well, after we rode off in opposite directions from National Park 2 weeks ago, couldn't loosen the devils.

Lucky for me that Mike at the Giant bike store here could torque them loose with his much better allen wrench.

Phew! Was having nightmares of not being able to box up. Guess the road is so rough it dried up all the grease I'd rubbed into the pedal sockets before installing the pedals themselves.

I thought I'd only finger tightened them. Hmm. Note to self: practice more.

Les is off to.catch a.plane home to Vancouver tomorrow.

He's already planning his next bike tour.

I know exactly why. Me too!

NZ has been an experience. But now time for somewhere else.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tanning without effort

The sun here is brutal, even on overcast days. Here's what my legs with a daily application of sunblock with 25 upf rating look like. My right hand has worn fingerless gloves for 6+ weeks,and the dark band on my wrist is where my uv blocking arm sleeves ride up over my watch, giving me up to 8hrs of burning sun each ride day.

Everyone comments on the sun's intensity.

If you ride in the southern hemisphere, take note.

Tetsu from Kyoto

Tetsu's been in NZ for 9 days, for a trip of 3 months.

Way to go!

One of the other travelling cyclist rigs seen

If you sit outside an I-site in a major tourist crossroads town, you get to meet the other cyclists out traveling.

A Japanese guy, notable

Typical scenery in "King Country"

It's not clear how the rural boundaries are arranged hereabouts, but it's been a beautiful rural ride for 2 days. Warm then hot weather, rolling pastureland, shearing sheds dotted here and there. It's so quiet you can hear the cows "comment" on the approach of the lone cyclist. Sometimes bellows, sometimes a gallop away from the fence, usually just the silent stares from a dozen or so animals.

The creeks are lined with treeferns and manuka, and here the trills and songs of the native birds are at their best.

Very pretty, lots of rollers, an occasional climb to walk up,then long thrilling (sometimes too thrilling) descents.

Really nice to have some summer weather again.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

3pm at Tokaanu Thermal Hot Pools

6km out from Turangi, I rewarded myself with 20 minutes in the private hot springs. It's s hot day, and I've just ridden a screaming descent on 41, rough rural grade surface, along the West side of Lake Taupo. Taumarunui is 60km back up a steep and winding highway ride. Views of Tongariro National Park were great, but I'm beat.

Hot springs were great. Now I have to ride the last 6km into Turangi, and find my backpacker, buy groceries, and finish my day. A lot to do.

Tomorrow my plan is Intercity to Rotorua via Taupo. No way in hell do.I feel like riding back 20km the way I just came, and riding along the lake back north. Don't feel up to all the hills and no facilities until about 90km in. There is very little this side of Taupo but farms and forest.

I've got plans to head to Bay of Islands to finish my visit with some tramping.

Monday, February 6, 2012

View from the terrace of my backpacker in National Park

When the mountains are out, it's hard to beat a view like this. Restaurant and self catering options here are limited and overpriced, especially for people getting around by bike. Not easy to just drive somewhere. It's a roundtrip of 20km to Chateau Tongariro from here, and uphill, as I've ridden it.

But having a front row seat on 3 volcanoes must be worth something.

Smash Palace

Also known as the Horopito Vintage Vehicles and Museum, this car graveyard is full of cars  Model T on, so if you need a part for your restored vehicle, this is the wrecking yard for you.

Given a break in the weather, I've returned to National Park from Ohakune via Raetihi, which seems like a new ride, as this time the mountains are visible. I don't trust the weather hereabouts, and I suspect rain is coming back, so I'm turning North, riding back to Rotorua, via Taumarunui and perhaps Te Kuiti.

It doesn't help to be too rigid when bike adventuring, because you miss a lot that way. It's not about the destination, it's the journey that is key.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Ohakune Old Coach Road

Under the mud lie the setts (cobblestones) made of local volcanic rock and laid as a road in 1908.

This is another piece of the New Zealand Cycleways in the Ruhapehu region.

Somewhat easier than Bridge to Nowhere, but definitely not an "easy" trail.

Fun, though.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Here comes the Jet Boat

Quite the way to end a good day riding in the wilderness. You need to tramp to get scenery this good.

Not sure I'd want to canoe the Whanganui River, which, funnily enough, is a "Great Walk" in DOC terms. On the 30 min ride out, passed several canoe parties enjoying a green, cool, damp and muddy trip. These kiwi locals are a hardy lot.

Here comes the Jet Boat

Quite the way to end a good day riding in the wilderness. You need to tramp to get scenery this good.

Okahune Sleepy Sunday

The weather can't make its mind, neither can I.

Woke to another day of drizzle  5th day in a row. Lucky for me I'd planned only to do laundry (wash the papa aka mudstone splatters off my knee warmers, and buy groceries at the New World supermarket. Later, a cappuccino and chat with Jo, owner of the Station Cafe, at the Okahune railway station, where I watched the 2pm Tranz Scenic stop for a few Wellington bound passengers

Given the crappy weather I'm planning one more day,to ride the Old Coach Road on another rental, then back on the road. If weather cooperates, I'll head to Wanganui, then swing back north via New Plymouth. If not, I may go to W'ton, catch the InterIslander and ride top of South Island, which has been sunny.

I'm running out of reasons to tolerate soaked booties and a bike caked in loose wet tar and gravel.

It's been an exceptionally.wet summer in the North Island, according to the NZ newspapers.

Yes, I know.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Bridge to Nowhere

Built 1935, abandoned almost immediately because of the futility of homesteading in this remote place. I wonder what the returned soldiers from the "Great War" would make of a mountain bike pleasure route running through a place of bitter disappointment.

Bridge to Nowhere piece of the Ruapehu-Whanganui Trails Nga Ara Tuhono cycleway

35km of remote dirt road, from pastoral jeep.track to grassy single track, with clay cliffs for good measure. I am a novice mountain biker, and this track had me way outside my comfort zone.

But I made it, across swing tramper bridges, rutted track, drop offs into the Mangapurua Stream, way below, and lots of mud.

This trail is really something, and comes with a jetboat trip out

Sweet as, as  they say hereabouts.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sheep auction in Raetihi Saleyards

Today's forecasted "drizzle" was wrong, so I did a drenching 35km from National Park, sharing the road with a large number of double livestock trucks, packed standing room only with sheep.

When I pulled into this once major country town, with a main street lined with once grand early C20th buildings, I found the annual sheep auction in full swing. Pens filled with skittish woolies selling for $100 to $250 a head.

What a treat. I hope this bodes well for clearing weather and a chance to mountain bike ride to Bridge to Nowhere, on the Whanganui River this coming weekend.

Road-rage driver pleads guilty to punching cyclist

Today's New Zealand Herald includes a short APNZ report following up the assault on cyclists Russ Roca and Laura Crawford.

"Pene, representing himself, made menacing faces at a photographer, while the court was told of events of January 10."

Looking at the photo of Jamie Curtis Pene, you can just imagine what the Wellington District Court hearing was like yesterday.

Good to see he's been remanded. Let's hope he isn't back on the road anytime soon to beat up anymore touring cyclists. We have plenty of other NZ road hazards to avoid.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kiwi CAN fly!

At least "Ski-wis" can. Taken during today's out and back ride to Whakapapa Ski Area on Mt Ruapehu.

Midday on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu

Ever wondered how.mountains make their own weather? Here's exhibit A, Mt Ngauruhoe (aka Mt Doom) in action.

A scenic ride from my backpackers in National Park, and I managed to stay upright on the bike the whole time, despite some tremendous wind gusts.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Trail to Taranaki Falls from Whakapaps Village

Tongariro National Park is serving up some "mountain" weather today.

Chose to skip the madness of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and had the trail to myself, once a handful of Northern Circuit trampers on their hike out came by.

Not cold, but misty, light rain on occasion and a stiff breeze for a bit.

Nice day to enjoy the alpine flowers and stark landscape.

Riding in National Park

Great riding, hot then chilly then hot mountain weather and some ominous looking volcanoes. Sweet.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hwy 1, Taupo to Turangi, about 8am

View of Mt Tauhara (1088m), one of the many volcanoes in this interesting part of the North Island.

While the sun did come out before noon, today's ride was massive sidewinds, headwinds 15km out of Turangi, and gale force gusts that knocked me off my bike as I was pulling into town.

Also, wonderful views of Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe in the national park.

People doing the Tongariro Crossing today would have "enjoyed" quite a gale up on top.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

8:45pm in Taupo, view to Mt Ruapehu after stormy day

Rode InterCity bus from Napier to Lake Taupo, avoiding a steep, remote, no shoulder 148km slogc with bad weather for extra "thrills."

Spent afternoon planning next ride segment, to Taurangi then National Park.

My goal is to explore some of the Nga Haerenga cycle trails in this relatively unvisited part of the central North Island.

Logistics are a puzzle.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hawke's Bay Trails a Great Ride on the New Zealand Cycle Trails

Here's what the local Nga Haerenga project, map courtesy of the Hawke's Bay i-Site looks like after 3 days of my "trail testing." Sections ringed in black marker are the bits the I-Site knows aren't open, as of Jan 26, 2012. I found several missing links  which made this exercise more of challenge than it might appear.

Overall issues: the Water Ride (orange) needs signposts and bike path stencils ASAP. It's way too easy right now to miss a turn, and end up on some.busy roundabout on Hwy 2. Section near Prebensen Rd in particular. Headwinds on Westshore very strong. After Taradale, sweet ride on the limestone/clay stopbank along Tutaekuri River. Fertilizer plant in Awatoto keeps it real.

Landscapes Ride (green) the best. Wetlands near Clive great, end point of Clifton Cafe great. I skipped the Tukituki River stopbank, instead riding Tukituki Road all the way. Great hills and rollouts, and few cars. After Red Bridge hit new gravel too deep to ride in. Waimarama Rd was terrible alternative, fast traffic, no shoulder. Yuck. Ride back on stop bank to Black Bridge fast. Some vandalism near BB and the footpath over a boneshaker. Scenery on Landscapes the best. Te Mata peak with paragliders. Best of all, the motion activated bicycle warning device on bridge across Horseshoe wetland. I vote that NZ Transport install these babies every road in the country.

Wineries ride (yellow) will be much more enjoyable once it's made offroad. Hwy 50 is not fun, with intermittent shoulders and trucks. Horticultural spraying isn't something I want to deal with often. Oak Avenue is lovely with an allee of oaks planted 1874. Hastings CBD is cyclists' nightmare: cars parked in the bike lane (dooring, anyone?) and the small green bike stencils in the roundabouts on Karamu St, what on earth are they communicating: hit a cyclist here?! More thought needed here if this is supposed to aid "share the road." You need to go go the CBD if you want food, otherwise, keep out of there. Don't like the aggressive behaviour when i try to ride through a roundabout as if I'm a vehicle (I am, but motorists don't altogether get this right now. I guess it will take time.

Wineries along the yellow (and orange and green) routes are a delight

My verdict? Once the kinks are ironed out, these trails rock. And I didn't need to swap bikes to do them.

Well done, Hawke's Bay.

The wine tasting is free, just having a d-i-y iced coffee

Of course there is tango music playing in the background, all the angelic children are dressed in pretty pastel outfits, and the wine glasses are clinked by well groomed people wearing panama hats.

Ahhh. The Hawke's Bay beloved by the tourist promo folks. Sometimes it does exist.

Te Awa Winery,Roy's Hill Rd, Hastings

2:30pm on the "Wineries" route. To get here it's a major highway, traffic, horticultural spraying, and hotter than heck. Will be a nicer ride in autumn, when they build the off road limestone bike path.

Had some ding dong in Hastings yell at me to get on the footpath, even though at that point I was in the bike lane on Omahu Rd. I guess he's not "sold" on the Hawke's Bay Trails project.

Tough cookies, mate.

Interesting warning to users of the Hawke's Bay Cycle Trails

Great "warning" from one farmer adjacent to the "landscapes ride" outside Clive.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

End of the East Cape Ride

Arrived in Gisborne about 1pm after a 7am start from Togala Bay. More walking up steep winding highway to leave the shore  then rolling through cattle and sheep stations. Clouded,high winds from the south, rain sprinkles

On the final coast run, two short climbs made impossible by headwinds, and a return to urban traffic. Passed 4 trailers loaded with logs, waiting for port to reopen for loading the orange freighter, to right of photo, in background.

I've booked a seat on tomorrow's 9am Intercity bus, as I'm skipping busy Hwy 2 from Gisborne to Napier. I plan to stay a few days looking at Art Deco.buildings,and riding to some Hawkes Bay wineries. 

After that, I'll continue looking for the least trafficked regions of the North Island.

So, is "East Cape" a top coastal cycling route?


Friday, January 20, 2012

View from deck of Te Puka Tavern in Tokomaru Bay

Took a while to get my bike out of the locked ballroom of the Te Puia Hot Springs Hotel, as the owner had a late night with the Fri nite local pub crowd. So, a great downhill run, a look around the ruins of Tokomaru's heyday as a major early 20th century livestock shipping port, in the days before roads.

And, a place that sells espresso!

Today's goal is Tolaga Bay, total of about 47km, as it's hot as heck and I started late. Then tomorrow, ride last 50km to Gisborne, and Hawkes Bay.

The private hot springs pool at Te Puia Hot Springs Hotel

Ahhhh, hot and makes you feel bouyant. Will sleep through the yelling and laughter in the bar below my room no problem. Maori people really know a good thing when they find it.

After 80+km on Hwy 35, what you want to see

"Only" 80km but today's ride from Hicks Bay included 3 hills, going from 0 (sea level) at Te Araroa, to 220m on the last stinker. I'm not good at stomping on the pedals on my heavily loaded bike, so i walked up sections of the climbs many times. The downhill rolls, are, however, exceptionally good fun. A hilly, rural ride through places that are little more than a point on the map. Cafes and shops are very sparse here in remotest East Cape, so logistics are a major issue. But tonight's accomodation has a rowdy pub and a private hot pool, tied into the sulphur springs deep under the ground of this reserve.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lake Rotoma, Sat waterskiing races

Enroute from Rotorua to Whakatane, stopped with the sightseers. Rotoma is one of 3 extinct volcanoes now lakes that you ride by on Hwy 34.

Blustery conditions, bright hot sun, blotted out by fast moving clouds that threaten rain.

After this lake, a short ascent followed by long down down down. Great 90kms to Bay of Plenty. Wish every route were like this one. Light traffic due to weekend and 7:15am start

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lake pools at Polynesian Spa in Rotorua

Unsettled weather including high winds means an extra day layover in Rotorua. For $43 I visited one of the better known hot springs resorts. Pleasant soak in 38 to 42 degree pools, sometimes with sun, sometimes rain. Tomorrow, back riding, early start, to Whakatane on the Bay of Plenty. Fingers crossed on the weather.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bicycle travelers attacked in road rage incident in Wellington

Today's New Zealand Herald reports an attack on two cyclists, Russ Roca and Laura Crawford two days' ago. www.nzherald.co.nz: "Shame and fears over driver's road rage attack on cyclists"

According to the article, there were several witnesses and they got the plate number of the assailant. Not exactly a good advertisement for enjoying New Zealand from s bike seat.

Well, there are over 4 million people in NZ, and of course there are deranged, angry individuals among them.

Bad things happen when you travel. I hope the arse involved in the attack is picked up promptly and prosecuted.


Redwoods in Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest

Some solid types check out my rig.

One week on the road: Auckland to Rotorua

It's 7am, sky is clearing after heavy downpour overnight in Rotorua. Since starting my trip, the weather has been challenging. Hot muggy days, followed by socked in weather, rain, heavy at times. Not the best for riding.

Took lots of time to figure a way out of Auckland. On the "Seabird Coast" lovely coastal riding, but no views of the Firth of Thames. Shared the road with a "Cannonball Run", a motor rally which meant I had fast cars, and people driving fast coming from behind all day. In rainy conditions, with a fully loaded bike, this is not much fun.

Headwinds near Miranda meant I stopped early at the only place I could find: Miranda Hot Springs Motor Camp. Nothing like staying at a hot springs resort in a downpour.

Riding to Thames was less than 30km, but the ride on a "now you see it, now you don't" shoulderless highway, along with rained out holiday makers heading back to Auckland, again, a real handle bar gripper.

Thames to Coromandel Town was simply superb. Rain cleared off, brilliant views. A couple of challenging hills followed by descents that were a bit scary.

A day in Coromandel, and a ride out to Colville. Gorgeous views, more beastly hills, and, rather than get back after dark, I hitch hiked, bike and all, with a friendly dairy farmer.

Given the difficult weather, the difficult terrain, the difficult traffic with too many "boy racers" taking blind corners with no room for error, I've chosen to adapt my trip. The Bay of Plenty, my original destination, is getting all the weather, and a local cyclist was killed on the highway this week, in what the newspaper report euphemisitically described as: "driver behavior and speed being investigated."

Tell me about it.

You can't change other people's behaviour, no matter how much you'd like to. Instead, all you can do is reduce your own risk factors, and ride smart. I bought a 15 hour bus pass on Intercity Coaches, and rode here. I plan to trim down my load, store gear at the YHA, then head back to Tauranga and East Cape. I've got too much gear for the riding, and it's beyond dangerous to be top heavy on these steep roads.

Not all bad, though. Met Michele, young Italian guy who's riding both islands. After "arrivaderci" in Thames, I met him downtown in Rotorua yesterday. Our conversations seem to center on hill experiences.

I made a tour of Rotorua's 8 bike stores (no kidding) finally finding a suitable handlebar mirror to use. Everyone here talks about mountain biking, mountain biking, mountain biking. They also tell me that cyclists get no respect on NZ roads, that's why everything's heading to the relative 'safety' of the single track.

Still, in addition to Michele, there are at least 3 other cycle travellers riding the same route I'm taking. Heading to Coromandel is the preferred route.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Leaving Auckland

View back to city. First plan to take train to outer suburbs scotched as line work, so riding instead.

Hydrangea farm outside Clevedon

Rainy Saturday, light traffic on the Clevedon - Kawakawa Rd

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Auckland to points south

I arrived in Auckland on New Year's Day. The city is very quiet, as Aucklanders take their extended Xmas holidays at this time. Most stores don't reopen until Jan 9.

No success in buying a handlebar mirror, as I guess all the local cyclists got one in their Xmas stockings. I'm also trying to find a DOC [Dept of Conservation] survival bag, a thick bright yellow plastic bag that I hope will serve me in case I need to do "desperation camping." I don't have a tent with me, and rain is forecast for the next couple of weeks.

I've done a shake out ride on Waiheke Island, about 35 mins by ferry from the CBD. It re-introduced me to the hills of NZ.

The YHA Auckland International has been home for a few days, and will hold my cardboard bike box until I show up again,in about 7 weeks. I've left the bike at Planet Bike on Dominion Road for a quick mechanic check. I've reassembled it, but I want someone experienced to double check, before I head out on a major tour.

I feel out of shape, and a bit anxious. Already had to deal with a carload of halfwits on Waiheke, who sprayed me with their softdrink as they drove past. It's a warning. Only takes the occasional fool like this to challenge my normally positive feelings about kiwis.

However, the anxiety is temporary. Nothing will prevent me from riding.